Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TrueFire In The Jam: Robben Ford Sessions - An Amazing Experience

TrueFire works. They've been a leader in the online guitar lessons since 1991, and with over a million pupils and collaborations with over 600 instructors, they are the state of the art. Their course library contains over 25,000 interactive guitar lessons that cover just about anything a player could want.

In The Jam is just what it says - it is an unparalleled jamming/learning experience in the online arena. It's mind boggling to see what they have put together with this latest edition/addition. I've been spending some quality time with the Robbin Ford Sessions these past few weeks, and I am still just blown away at what is available here, and what has been accomplished by all involved.

Included in this massive, but ultra easy to navigate tutorial is eleven chapters. These chapters include a welcome and explanation/introduction by your host Robben Ford, and ten tracks from Robben's 2014 album, A Day In Nashville. The album covers a lot of ground from rock, jazz, blues, some country, as Robben says, "There's something for everybody." Indeed there is - each track contains audio and video tracks of everything Ford plays, including commentary that let's you know not just what and how he's playing what he's playing, but also why he's making the musical choices throughout. If that was all you got here, it would be a tremendous value, but we're only getting started.

Each track comes with a great three camera screen view that lets you see Robben's right hand, left hand, and full guitar/hands shots for both his lead and rhythm guitar parts, as well as an onboard mixer that lets you control the volume of the whole track (master), lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals, and bass, so you can emphasize or even mute any part or section of the track.

So, for instance, you can mute all the guitars and vocals to focus in and hear exactly how the rhythm section (bass and drums) are playing together to support the track, or you can mute the lead guitar, bass, and drums in order listen to just Ford's lead vocal and rhythm guitar track, and learn how he accompanies himself. Then you can bring up the lead and rhythm guitar parts to se just how this master has assembled his guitars for each track. The options are many, and you can not just learn technical and musical skills from the individual instruments, you can also gain tremendous insight into how tracks are put together, and the role of the arrangers and producers on tracks such as these. It's all quite remarkable in its depth and level of completeness.

Robben Ford is a very natural performer, and that skill translates straight over into his exceptionally easy to understand teaching style and commentaries. He almost makes being Robben Ford seem easy. He's that good.

This software is directed to the guitar community, but it would be of tremendous value to any musician at any level of skill and experience. Any serious student, or even just anyone with intermediate musical skills and is looking for a jam would do well to experience this program. I must add the requisite, "Where was this when I was a beginner," at this point. This won't make playing easier, and you'll certainly have to still put in your time learning your instrument and the associated skills, but this gives you so much wonderful information that it eliminates much of the mystery that once made learning much more difficult. These are great guitar lessons that you can repeat endlessly, fast forward or rewind at any point, and toggle between instruments, great commentary, and the again invaluable lessons of listening and watching the instruments and players working together. I'm hard pressed to think of any function of the recording process from a player's perspective that isn't covered here.

Each track also includes a session commentary that is essential watching and listening. You can glean a vast amount of knowledge from this alone. The visuals are superb, the sound amazing, and the content is unparalleled.

There is also tablature and notation for each track. Yes, the folks at TrueFire have thought of it all. In The Jam is a beautiful tool, perfect for learning, great fun for jamming along, and when you see and experience it, I promise you will be just as blown away as I have been.  

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