I’ve sometimes been asked why I made videos. It’s a very interesting question and there are a few possible answers. So, here are, to me, the reasons and the few pedagogical advantages of this exercise.
If you are a guitar player, then you must know that guitar is an instrument which either attracts egocentric people or turns people into megalomaniacs! On the one hand, It’s a very common instrument and of course, it involves a lot of « competition ». On the other hand, it’s an instrument on which you can easily progress and quickly play a few songs. These two elements bring people to show what they can do.
There are different things to be proud of but the main one I would think about is the technical skill : I’m sure you’ve already found footages of people playing the flight of the bumblebee at an incredible speed or something else! I was interested in this kind of music as I learned guitar so I won’t call it crap or whatever. What I would say is that I consider it to be normal to try, to get interested by the extreme boundaries of what one can play on the guitar. I am definitely unable to play this way but I learned a lot when I tried to play (slow-motion) shred. Anyway, guitar players are often proud of the knowledge they have gathered on their instrument (you’re currently reading a blog-oriented guitar right?) and can give this feeling of megalomania.
2. Get a better ear
I always learn my covers by ear. Trying to make videos on a regular basis implies finding new songs to play again and again. Here is my process before covering a song :
- Listen to a loooot of songs of all kind. If I like a song, I try to see wether the guitar track is something I could play, or if I can do a personnal arrangement with it (as for my Radiohead or Beck cover).
- Listen to the songs I have selected and start finding the main riffs.
- Decoding and transcribing the hardest parts on a sheet of paper (writing helps a lot for memorisation)
- Playing over and over the hard parts
- Playing over and over the whole song to work on the articulations
This way of working is a good way to make your playing very varied because of all the different types of songs you’ll try to cover. Also, you won’t get bored if you’re planning several covers at the same time. If there is a difficulty during the process of covering (finding out how one part is played, technical unability that requires time and training for example), you can simply switch to another song and come back later. You’ll make progress thanks to your own tastes in music : if you listen to varied kinds of music then you’ll make your own playing more versatile.
3. Discover your faults
Here is the main advantage of video making and recording processes in general! Finding out what’s wrong in your playing!
When you are playing alone, or even with friends, you just have an overall impression of what you’re playing. Focusing on what you’re currently playing is a lot different than focusing on your fingers and the backing track. When you record yourself (audio or video) you can hear what people around hear without any distraction and here comes trouble…
You soon realise you are not as clean as you thought you were, some parts need a lot more work, you’re not following the beat properly… There are a lot of slight mistakes we all do when we play and, when you listen to it with full attention, you have to admit these mistakes have to disappear.
This process of analysing your playing can be veeeery disappointing. Anyway, let’s look at the bright side : it’s better to discover it yourself than thanks to someone else telling you play wrong! So let’s put the ego aside and consider what has to be corrected!
Why video and not just audio then? Well it’s pretty simple. Some faults can be corrected by changing your hand position, finding another fingering etc… These kinds of modifications are easier to find out when you have a global view of what you’re doing. Thanks to video recordings you can see for example you’re not playing a slide properly because you stop your motion too soon. You can also see you make bad sounds by having a bad left hand position muting some strings and so on. At the beginning it’s hard to accept but you’ll soon make progress because you’ll become far more demanding on your own playing.
As I said in first part, it’s always great to have feedback from the other users but be careful, youtube is a jungle! Once you decided to broadcast your covers, you also have to accept critics by other users. Sometimes they are constructive, sometimes they’re not! You can even be lucky and get insulted by « haters », so be prepared for it! It has already happened on my channel and will probably happen again!
Example of a nice comment…
Example of a far less nice comment…
But let’s be honest, if you do your job properly there will be no problem. I personnaly try to cover rare songs because, as a listener, I like to know how a song is played or composed. I’ve always enjoyed seeing people covering the songs I like with a close-up on the guitar and that’s why I started making videos.
The feedback is very important, people will help you to find the things you could change. They will also encourage and motivate you to do more and more.