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Watch the The Method: Beat by Beat online guitar lesson by TrueFire from Play Acoustic Guitar 5: Fingerstyle Principles

The Method: Beat by Beat - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Tommy Emmanuel and is sourced from Fingerstyle Milestones.

I'd like to talk about learning songs now. With learning songs, the way I've always done it is very slowly. When you're learning a fingerstyle song, or playing a song in fingerstyle, you can't learn the two parts and put them together, it just doesn't work that way. What you have to do is learn the whole thing bit by bit, and go very slowly. Whether you read music or tablature and work it out through that, you still have to go slow. When you're working things out like I do, by ear, you just have to learn it bar by bar. And it's a good way to learn, because it's thorough, and it's meticulous, and if you go slowly then you'll be able to play it and know every part is right. I always learn songs slowly, and when I'm sure that I've got everything right, I switch mindsets and begin focusing on practicing all of the new skills. By the time I've practiced them enough, they turn to music, and that's what I live for, playing music! So, I just want to give you a little example, a song of mine called Luttrell from an album called Only a long while ago. The song was written as a dedication to Chet Atkins, because Luttrell is the town where he's from. I want to show you that to put this song together, I had to do it very slowly, because the main melody part had hammer-ons and pull-offs and things like that. At a normal tempo, the song goes like this. Now if I slowed that down, this is what I'm actually doing. So you see each bar that I'm playing, I'm going hammer-on with my fingers and then the thumb is doing the bass sound. So I would recommend if you were going to learn that song, then start out learning it at a much slower pace, and then you can hear everything you're doing and make sure the fingering is right, and then you practice until you can play it at full speed. When I'm playing it now, because I've practiced it and played it, I'm not thinking about the skill of playing the song, I'm actually thinking about the melody and how I want to make it feel.