A while back, I took a look at online lessons for fingerstyle guitar. As modern acoustic fingerstyle playing has grown in popularity, so have the options for lessons. There’s video courses (like JamPlay), tab sites (like gtdb.org), Skype lessons (like Callum Graham), etc.
One of the sites I looked at was the StudyWithAdam.com site. Run by Adam Rafferty, StudyWithAdam.com is a membership site that runs the middle ground between a straight up video course and a personal interactive lesson. “Guitar coaching” is the phrase that comes to mind.
Several of my readers recently checked out the service, signed up, and liked it. So I thought it would be worth taking a deeper dive for myself. I contacted Adam Rafferty, signed up as a normal user, and got to experience his community first hand. Here’s what I found.
- Registration. When you sign up, you immediately get a very personal welcome. Welcome videos from Adam describing how to use his site, free eBooks, intro lessons, and explanation of how his emails will work. Very clear, very warm. Made me feel at home.
- Watch and Play Videos. These are the core of StudyWithAdam.com. First you watch a live performance of the piece. Then a long (often over an hour) video walks you through learning the song phrase by phrase. Adam’s an excellent teacher, and the videos move at a good speed.
- Varied Levels. Videos are marked for Easy / Intermediate / Advanced. There’s good stuff to jump in with at any level.
- Friday Goal emails. Every Friday, you’ll get an email asking for your weekly guitar goals. I personally like this because I believe goal-setting is the best way to achieve results (in any area of life).
- The Community. Students are encouraged to post videos of themselves as they learn new songs. The comments are encouraging. The performances are sometimes of work in progress, which lowers the intimidation factor for beginners.
- Style. Adam Rafferty bills himself as a “funky fingerstyle” guitarist. If you’re in to the percussive technique of Thomas Leeb, or two-handed harmonic tapping craziness of Andy McKee, this may not be the best fit for you. If you’re into solid, grooving fingerstyle arrangements of melodic, popular songs, you’re in the right place.
- It’ll push you. This is not for mildly interested. Rafferty uses email, a Facebook forum, and frequent updates to keep engagement high. If you’re ready to get to work, you’ll love it. If you’re not, it might get annoying.
- Assumed Knowledge. There are some materials available for the complete beginner. But the Watch and Play videos assume that students are past the beginner level of guitar playing. Even a Watch and Play video marked “Easy” will require decent technique and familiarity with the fretboard. So if you’re a total newbie, you’ll likely find yourself straining to keep up.
- Limited Songs. Rafferty is adding songs regularly but, as of yet, the catalogue is limited.
StudyWithAdam.com is a really positive experience. Rafferty’s personal style is very warm and welcoming. The site is well-organized. The goal-setting mindset makes improvement attainable. The songs are great and the lessons teach at a great pace.
My only personal hopes are that a) we may see some more percussive/harmonic fingerstyle techniques included, and b) that Rafferty can keep up the output (he has a busy performance schedule in addition to the site).
If you want to sign up, there are 3-month ($99.97), 6-month ($179.97), and 12-month ($199.97) subscriptions available. If you want to test it out like I did, the free 14-day trial is the way to go.
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