Gray Ladies, Cheese Weasels and The Horizontal 3-Step

Sep 25, 2019
About four years ago, there was a story in the New York Times Magazine about "the new digital creatives." The gist was that despite the erosion of intellectual property values wrought by digital distribution of creative work, various and assorted musicians, writers and visual artists were somehow thriving in this hostile climate. Among other things, the story profiled a saxophonist giving online lessons to support his habit of touring with John Mayer. I did the math in my head and decided that unless touring rates had gone up a whole lot since the last time I did it, teaching someone to run mixolydian arpeggios and Coltrane licks via Skype was probably paying for a lot more saxophone reeds and boutique mouthpieces than actually going out and playing them in public. Around the same time, someone gave me a book on making online courses. Since I love learning things out of books, I though, "Yeah, how hard could it be?" and started designing and shooting my first online class.

I don't think the material in Online Dave 1.0 was all that shabby, but the marketing side was definitely several steps in the wrong direction. When the first email about the course went out, I heard right away from one of my oldest college friends, who was sure I'd been hacked. "I got this email," he wrote "but it sounded nothing like you." Ouch. Turns out making a sincere effort to provide something useful without sounding like an absolute cheese weasel takes just as much – or possibly more – practice than using diminished voicings correctly on a Fats Waller tune, sobering news indeed. I can honestly say I've spent the past four years trying to live that moment down. In every Youtube video and each weekly Letter I strive to be as straightforward and jive-free as my inherent insouciance and verbal joie de vivre will allow. (I can't do anything about my pretentious vocabulary, unfortunately. They think it may be genetic.)

All of which is to say, I've been working all summer on a new project, and have even mentioned it from time to time under various working titles. After many drafts, several permutations and more than a few long whiskey-fueled conversations with various musician amigos, I'm pleased to say The Fingerstyle Five, my membership site for people who want to play better fingerstyle blues guitar, will officially unveil next week. But here's the thing.

I recently debuted another new project, my live-online Blues Chord Substitutions workshop. I kept it small, and everyone who signed up seems to be digging it. But what I'm learning, now that we're halfway through the course, is that my understanding of what people really want to know is only coming together now that the class has gotten rolling. Yes, I showed up with a curriculum, material to present, and an order in which to do so. But actually teaching, and interacting with everyone, immediately gave me a much better idea of what to teach and how to teach it.

So I've spent a lot of time designing this membership, but I know I won't fully understand what it needs to be until I'm actually running it. Which is why, to begin, I'm just opening it to you – subscribers to this Letter – rather than the world at large. Like the Workshop, I have a curriculum and material, but I'm hoping to really involve everyone who participates in the development and direction of this project. And because it's necessarily a work in progress, it will be priced to encourage as many current newsletter subscribers as possible to take part in getting it off the ground.

I'll be explaining more about the membership this week and teaching some of the ideas it's based on, starting with the video at this link:

Right Hand Coordination: The Horizontal 3-Step

On Friday, I'll present more material and answer questions during a live Zoom session. If you can't attend, I'll be posting a replay as soon afterwards as possible. If you want to be there live, pencil me in for 3pm CST on Friday the 27th, and look for a link in your inbox between now and then to register for the session.

More soon,


P.S. Yes, there is tab for this lesson, too! Just scroll down once you land on the video page and click the green button.