Author: Andy McKee
Style: Fingerstyle | Acoustic
Level: Late Intermediate / Advanced
Features: Tabs (.pdf) & GP5 files
Lessons: 38 Videos (incl. introduction & conclusion) | 188 Minutes
Today’s review is going to be about Andy McKee’s first course for Truefire.com called “Musicarium Songbook”. In this review I am going to give you a brief introduction to Mr. McKee, highlighting some milestones in his career as well as my own opinion on him, having followed him for quite some time on YouTube. After the introduction, I will move on and discuss some of the songs and techniques within the course as well as give you a conclusion of what to expect from Mr. McKee’s first course on Truefire.com.
As I mentioned above, I have been following Andy McKee for quite a while now, growing a steady interest in fingerstyle playing! If you haven’t yet heard of him or seen him playing, go and check out his YouTube channel! One particularly good performance that I enjoyed was him playing Toto’s Africa together with the amazing and well-known Tommy Emmannuel, who happens to release a new course for Truefire almost simultaneously!
My own impression of Mr. McKee is that of a very versatile technical player with a clear joy for the instrument. By incorporating various techniques, ranging from harmonics over to percussive slaps and body percussion techniques he manages to merge sounds that form this very style, typical for modern fingerstyle guitarists!
What to do if you want to follow an idol and want to get – at least – as good as your favourite guitar player? Well, you are most likely going to study his songs… This is exactly what you are able to do with this course. You will be introduced to a total of five songs, each being an essential core of Andy McKee’s repertoire, highly instructive in terms of technical demand as well as a joy to listen to.
From an instructor who shows his own songs I would expect the following: an introduction in which the artist explains his thought process or the motivation behind the song, a clear and high quality performance of it, so you get a perfect example of “how-it-should-sound” as well as a detailed breakdown into the different parts of the song so we can slowly but surely work on the tune, working our way up until we can play the complete tune!
Let me show you if Mr. McKee managed to fulfil my expectations by having a look at his first song of the course called Drifting. The piece is broken down into six parts, starting out with an overview, a performance and a breakdown (consisting of four videos) of the piece.
The introduction teaches us what inspired Andy McKee to write the tune when he was about 18 years old. Preston Reed was the driving force behind the tune, having shown young Andy McKee that an acoustic can easily hold its ground to an electric guitar. Furthermore, you are given an overview of the different techniques that you will need to know to play the tune.
The introduction is followed by a full performance of Drifting. Here you are going to see first-hand if this tune is something you want to learn or not. It becomes evident from the get-go that this tune is a highly technical piece that requires good command of the instrument. However, for those who decide to stick with the tune and learn it, you are getting a very good recording of the tune in multiple angles to focus on the difficulties that may come up when studying the piece.
Once you have listened to the recording you are heading right into the breakdown of the tune. I cannot go too much into details here as I don’t want to spoil anything. However, I can tell you what the breakdown section is compiled of and what you can expect to learn here. First of all, the tune is divided into four sections: the intro, the verse, the chorus and the bridge.
Throughout the breakdown videos for Drifting, about 30 minutes in total, you are getting introduced to the chords and the chord progressions in this tune. The piece is written in the DADGAD tuning, which really helps out incorporating the various over-the-neck-techniques that you use to play the chords while switching back and forth between them and the bass parts, consisting of body percussion all around the guitar body. Below you are going to find the performance of this tune to see exactly what makes this piece a demanding one!
Andy McKee’s explanations are always on-point! He understands well to break down the individual problem areas of the piece bit by bit, giving it enough time to really sink in. He is known as a very technical player and you need to know that before you attempt to follow in his footsteps. However, I cannot stress enough of how impressive his playing is and once you enter that path you are going to draw a lot out of this course!
Beware that the course will take some time as there are no simple pieces or tricks to make you play the pieces magically. However, the high quality recordings and cutting that is a trademark for videos and courses by Truefire.com are a real aid in learning this tune!
The course material is accompanied by tabs and notation in .pdf or .gp5 format.
For advanced fingerstyle players, those, who search for a course that serves as an artist study, “Musicarium” is the right choice! Here you are going to be challenged as the techniques used in the songs are by no means easy. Once you put the time and effort into it you will definitely benefit from the clear instructions and the amazing pieces that were chosen for this course.
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This course was provided by Truefire.com