Valdi T.
Reykjavik, ICELAND

"I purchased Richie Zellon’s Bebop Guitar Improv Series (BGIS) course Vol. 1 last year and have been working with him through private Skype lessons for over a year now.  As a result, I feel qualified to share my observations and experience with the product and lessons.

This will get a little lengthy, so for those inclined not to read a whole lot the bottom line is this:

I am very happy with the course, it is thoughtfully laid out, course materials are of the highest quality compared to other courses I’ve tried and purchased, the instructor has decades of experience performing and teaching, is highly knowledgeable and is a great communicator to boot – he is certainly dedicated to helping his students master the material and I can’t recommend the course highly enough as I’ve found it extremely beneficial and more than worth the money.

Now, for those prepared to invest more time in reading about my experience with the course a little background and info on me is in order.  When I found the BGIS course it had only been 5 years since I picked up a guitar for the first time.  During that time, I had been to several teachers, bought several courses and acquired all kinds of learning materials.  I still have plenty to learn about all things guitar, but the thing that I lacked the most and eluded me to that point was figuring out how to improvise and make it sound like real jazz lines and not just a boring regurgitated scale or arpeggio – how to make it sound melodic and “jazzy”.  Anything I did always sounded like scales and lacked fluency and a nice rhythm to it.

I had been searching all over the ‘net for something to help me gain understanding of improvisation and to help me advance in that department.  There seemed to be so much conflicting advice out there and no clear roadmap to follow.  What struck me about Richie’s approach when I first came across it was how logical it is.  I had always imagined improvisation to be a highly creative, artistic, strictly right-brain oriented activity if you will.  Richie breaks it down and shows how proper solos are constructed.  He explains the core elements and building blocks and then provides you with a series of exercises and etudes which gradually help you build the competence required in baby steps – providing plenty of encouragement along the way.  His program provides what I would consider a left-brain approach to a right-brain problem quite suitable for an analytical person like me who isn’t particularly well in touch with their artistic side (assuming they even have one to begin with!).

Starting with something familiar and basic like a regular 12-bar I-IV-V blues progression, learning how to recognize the chord changes and playing over them with a single scale in three different fingerings (one for each chord) gives you plenty to work with initially – building on that by adding rhythms, arpeggios, voice leading with guide tones and practicing those through the etudes and Bebop Calisthenics has improved my playing dramatically this past year.

I’ve still got my work cut out for me, plenty of material to cover and a long way to go, but with Richie’s instruction and well planned roadmap I’m confident that a diligent effort in working the etudes and exercises will pay off and get me where I want to go with my jazz improvisation in the years to come."