| For guitarists interested in any form of contemporary
musicwhether it be r&b, funk, jazz, or popa knowledge of
the blues is essential. Blues is a highly expressive form of music, and
instructor Mike Williams, a longtime Berklee professor and active performing
musician, has created a way to teach it with personality and soul online.
The goal of the course is to get players functioning and playing over real blues, learning elements of rhythm guitar, about the music itself, and about soloing, said Williams. We also learn more detailed and subtle aspects of playing, such as how to put dynamic power and expression in the music. Through extensive listening examples from blues pioneers, to personalized feedback, Williams shows guitarists what to play on specific styles of musicand, just as important, what not to play. I emphasize how important it is to play what youre hearing and to play honestly. Over the years, Ive been fortunate to spend so much time learning about the blues, and in the course, I bring in musical examples that are the real blues. Williams stresses that students are hearing and learning music by the stylists who have defined blues guitar playing.
In his online course, Williams covers much of the history of electric
blues guitar, with music from masters like Robert Lockwood Jr., T-Bone
Walker, BB King, Freddy King, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Rogers, and Magic Sam,
along with contemporary players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his brother,
Jimmy Vaughan. Williams carefully arranges these examples to show how
blues styles have evolved. When you listen to classic stylists back
through time, you can hear Son Houses connection to Robert Johnson,
and Muddy Waters, who in turn, connected to modern-day players such as
Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, John Hammond, Keb Mo, and so many others
. . . you can hear the lineage from generation to generation.
The course covers both rhythm and soloing in a variety of styles, including blues shuffles, slow blues, straight-eighths groove, and even blues rockall in different tempos and grooves. Students learn the language of the greats so that they can incorporate elements into their own personal style.
Each lesson includes numerous audio and notation examples of original blues performances, which students can play along with and apply what theyve learned. For example, students will listen to BB Kings intro to Nightlife, a slow, eight-bar groove. With the intensity that comes across through his intro choruses . . . sometimes the music speaks louder than words. In that lesson, students look closely at the way BB King leaves silence between his phrases, and plays in a vocal-like manner. Blues is not just about how many notes you play, or how fast. Its about not wasting any words . . . its about playing the music honestly, with intensity and soul. In the online classroom, Ive referred to it is as using your chops for good, instead of evil.
Students learn how subtle changes in rhythmic feel and tempo can affect a groove such as a shuffle. Williams said, I show them how to play a march in the style of Jimmy Reed, which has a lazy triplet feel and really emphasizes the backbeat. Then, by changing the rhythmic emphasis and tempo, the rhythm part can morph all the way into a straight rock'n'roll feel of Chuck Berry, or Stevie Ray Vaughan, along with other stylistic variations in between. An added feature of the course is its numerous instructional video segments, in which Williams demonstrates the techniques and approaches he presents. Every week, students submit assignments, where they play along with a provided rhythm guitar track. They then submit an MP3 of their playing to the discussion board for feedback from Mike and fellow students.
By the end of the course, students will be able to play solos and rhythm guitar in several styles, keys, and at varying tempos and grooves. They will have learned pentatonic and blues scales, turnarounds, chords on various positions on the neck, and voicings that will make them more versatile guitarists in blues, rock, funk, or jazz styles. And, theyll better understand the blues lineage.
Williams has spent many years studying the playing of the greatest stylists
of the blues, and is enthusiastic about sharing it with his online students.
One of the most personally rewarding benefits from developing this
course has been introducing people to some of the most influential and
timeless blues players. Many students arent familiar with some of
the greatest players, so I feel very fortunate and honored to be able
to introduce them to these blues artists.
Ready to Enroll?
Online Summer Term Starts July 1st
|For-credit tuition: $1,200|
Non-credit tuition: $1,100
Add 6 CEUs: $25.00
|Duration: 12 weeks|
|Catalog #: BMP-122a|
|Michael Williams Member of Grammy winner James Cotton's blues band.|
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