I often get asked “What's The Best Way To Study The Paul Franklin Method?”. Here’s what I think works best:
FOCUS ON TECHNIQUES
Focus on learning the techniques needed for everything you decide to study today, whether you learn something new, or take an introspective look at polishing an old gem.
It’s extremely important that we keep perfecting both ourselves and how we play. Our musical personality is defined by our blocking and dynamics. Refining those techniques (among others) guarantees expressive musicianship. Remember this: we don't speak in monotones, instead we are taught early on the importance of punctuation, spoken inflections, volume emphasis, etc. Those subtleties add to the expression and detail.
Actor Christopher Walken reportedly asks for his movie scripts to be delivered with NO punctuation. He reserves the creative control to determine the right inflections based on his portrayal of what the character would say and do in any given scene.
We can better express our thoughts once we understand and develop these tools. Should we play music in a monotone? I eliminated the mindset of there being "Only One Way" to solve any singular issue or arrive at any particular destination. I explore my personal possibilities through constantly varying my approach.
Never overlook the techniques of bar control (exact bar movements for intonation & vibrato for emotion), pick attack, volume pedal usage, pedal squeezes etc. All of this is to be studied to find a “better me”.
DON"T SETTLE FOR GOOD ENOUGH
Admittedly, this process sounds like a lot to take on at first. It’s human nature to accept "close enough" as the benchmark, but as musicians we are rewarded (and advance) when we can play beyond that "close enough" mark of excellence.
The recordings of John Hughey's playing on "Look At Us," Pete Drake's intro on "My Sweet Lord," and Buddy Emmons’ "Danny Boy" are the results of introspective practice. I urge everyone to start following the same path.
NO DISTRACTIONS When memorizing new material, practice painfully slowly using the metronome (NOT rhythm tracks!). Rhythm tracks are fine once you have mastered the material to perfection by slowly increasing your metronome, treat them as your reward for focused, patient practice. Rhythm tracks used at the initial stage of learning a part will cover up the details that you should be working on: dynamics, tuning, expression. Slow metronome tempos allows the mind to memorize all the technical issues perfectly, without rushing to meet the tempo of the rhythm track.
If you practice at a tempo at which you can play it perfectly, your mind will have no memory of ever playing it incorrectly. You will only have ever played it perfectly, and your muscle memory will no no other way to do it than how you practiced it..
GET IN SYNCH Always strive to synchronize your skills as you learn to play. Play not just the notes, but the be conscious of the attack of each note, the vibrato (or not), the volume pedal moves, the intonation.
At first it seems like a lot, but the point is to start yourself into this mindset of learning deeply. Over time this gets much easier. Since the days of the great classical masters, this mindset has proven to be the shortest path to mastering an instrument and acquiring great musicianship.
MOVING AHEAD What should I learn next? This library of lessons found in The Paul Franklin Method are all of the topics (lessons) I continue practicing to this very day. The core material in the PFM can not be totally mastered and if anyone can, I will give you my guitar!
These lessons are meant for studying over and over again. As we gain more knowledge and understanding down the road, what we once thought we understood will actually be revealed as a surface understanding and will in time come clearer....and grow as deep as Music itself.
Learning to become great musicians requires much more than just being able to copy solos and arrangements. Musicianship is developed through the study of great musical literature. We live in a world where we have access to so much ear candy - our ears have so many unwrapped packages.
CHORD TO CHORD
Music, when stripped to its essence, goes from one chord to the next, that's it. Finding endless creative and expressive ways to do that is the goal.
Listen to as many varied musicians on all instruments in your spare time as you can, then continue on "memorizing" how many ways you can play through each two-chord movement. "More is more". Do this and you will become a more skilled musician. Take at least another day on each lesson.
Start "Digging Deeper".