What happened to the Guitar Conspiracy and all other eBooks?
Back in 2007, when Spytunes first launched, I sold an eBook that explained the chords, chord progressions, arpeggios, pentatonic and modal concepts of Spy Tunes. It was called the Guitar Conspiracy.
Along with the book came DIY TAB‘s. These were structured, but empty TAB sheets for the student to fill in, for each song. Only the roman numerals were displayed and the idea was for the student to learn to transcribe, using the video lessons and the roman numerals as the guide.
With hindsight, I’ve realized this was much too complicated and as a result, the majority would give up on transcribing after a song or two. Instead, they would roughly learn the song using the video and simply translate the roman numerals into chord names.
However, they didn’t do what was most important – to transcribe, because I had set the bar too high.
The Work Book, Acoustic Finger Style Guitar, Rhythm Guitar and Music Theory
Along with the Guitar Conspiracy, came the Work Book which included the TAB’s for all of the chord progressions, arpeggios and modal exercises. The first few hundred copies were printed and sold out immediately. Some people just wanted the PDF so I offered that as well, at a lower cost.
It quickly became apparent that once printed, I had limited myself. I couldn’t add any new songs or exercises. Since the whole concept of teaching guitar online was to remove excuses such as time, location and seamless updates, it made sense to stop the hard copy version and go completely digital.
This led me to produce a number of eBooks over the next five years. I included free updates as I developed them. At the time, it made sense to pursue this and I enjoyed the challenge.
One of these eBooks, Acoustic Finger Style Guitar, had finger style exercises and a practice version of each song.
Another eBook, Rhythm Guitar, had two different concepts. The first concept was to say rhythms using syllables, then play them. The second concept was a practice version of each song, a simplified loop if you like.
I also wrote a book called Music Theory which taught you how to read and write music on the stave.
Backing tracks and improvisation
To help you learn how to improvise, I offered two eBooks with hundreds of backing tracks.
The first was called Blues Jam Tracks and it contained two hundred backing tracks. There were also videos moving licks from one shape to another and lots of ideas to help you get going. These used the concept of new chord = new scale.
The second eBook, 2 Chord Loops, used a similar concept to the Blues Jam Tracks but with different chords and a focus on more modal scales.
By now, I had written so many eBooks I decided to package them into a bunch of offers. The most popular offer was The Spy Tunes Method which was – yes you guessed it – all eBooks!
As a result of all of this work, I had a few ecstatic students. I mean, all eBooks for $79 is a pretty good deal! All the answers were there but it was starting to become a case of “Good luck, now you’re on your own!”. Those students who were not ecstatic were becoming frustrated as although they now had a lot of eBooks, they were unsure where to actually start.
The writing and packaging of all these eBooks had given me the same issue as the DIY TAB’s. I had set the bar too high again and although some people loved it, for most it was overwhelming. This was not at all what I had intended and I needed to find a better solution.
The answer came from one of my students who suggested that I change my eBook approach into simple step by step instructions so that he didn’t have to plan his learning for himself.
With my previous experience of writing step by step instructions (for guitar magazines, music colleges and, more recently, an online college in America) I realized that he was right. The simple step by step idea was definitely the way forward!
Step by step guitar courses
The beginner guitar course was created from the beginner elements of the eBooks, along with all of the exercises and acoustic songs. It was launched in 2012 and took me six months to write. This course was immediately successful and made me realize that the eBooks would soon be obsolete.
I started to wonder how long the entire advanced course might take, bearing in mind there would be so many more songs and exercises involved. However, I put this to the back of my mind and set about writing the intermediate guitar course. It took me an entire year to write and was launched the following year. The response was equally as good for this course.
In February 2014, I started working on the advanced guitar course. I spent over two years planning and writing this course.
All of the original information in the Guitar Conspiracy, all the other eBooks, and how I could improve on that material, was all considered and tweaked based on feedback from my test group. As a result, my original eBooks really were becoming a thing of the past.
I definitely didn’t miss the practice songs. Instead, the actual TAB for each song was now in the courses, note for note.
I also didn’t miss the concepts that the Blues Jam Tracks and 2 Chord Loops offered. Instead of moving licks around the fret board to backing tracks, in the step by step courses, I take a vocal melody or a second guitar part and move these around the neck.
This worked much better. It was clearly easier, more fun and made more sense. What had happened was that all these theories now had context in the form of an actual song.
Having context, having a song when you practice is the key to being musical. If you practice scales or music theory in isolation you will end up playing music theory, not music. This has been my biggest discovery as I’ve studied my students progress since 2007.
Simply put, you should not practice how to play over a II – V – I in general. You should practice playing a song that has a II – V – I. Develop that songs melody, change the key, dig deeper. Then find another song with the same progression, look at how this songs melody work, develop it.
This idea of context is vital in order to become a musical guitar player.
The step by step method had won me and my students over completely, so much so that in 2015 I pulled the plug on all eBooks. Instead, now I offered step by step courses only.
Since 2015, these courses have been tweaked, I’ve recorded the songs again, now featuring 2nd guitar parts so we can play them together and you can learn how to design a guitar part.
There is now also an intermediate electric course available where you can play with an actual band. This is a Motown/Soul course which will help you design rhythm guitar parts, licks and solos mainly using pentatonic scales.
Having now spent fifteen years developing the concept of spytunes online guitar lessons, it is now easier than ever for you to learn how to play the guitar.
Check out all the step by step guitar courses and start your journey today.