Learning a musical instrument is an amazing way to build a new skill, and develop a new appreciation for all kinds of music. Mastering your music, talent can be tricky, however, especially the first time you try.
The guitar is a super popular option when it comes to learning a new instrument, and often ties with the piano as being the first instrument that aspiring new musicians flock to, largely due to the wide range of popular songs that can be learned.
When it comes to perfecting your craft, there are a range of options, including private lessons, YouTube tutorials, and the self-taught path for the brave few.
In some cases, however, a specialist course can combine all of these methods, offering the benefits of all in one easy, convenient package.
Learn, Practice Play is one such example, and here, we will take a closer look at what this is, how it works, and whether it could be a good option for you.
What Is Learn, Practice, Play?
In the simplest terms, Learn, Practice, Play is a four-step plan which takes you from novice guitar player to being able to create some decent songs with confidence.
The course is the brainchild of Paul Davids, an experienced guitar player with over twenty years of experience in the industry, who also boasts a music degree, specializing in guitar techniques, in addition to a minor in teaching, achieved from the Rotterdam Conservatory.
Davids spent 11 years teaching guitar to students and now runs a successful YouTube channel to help the next generation of aspiring musicians.
He has a strong dedicated following, and this comes as no surprise given his great teaching technique, a wealth of experience, and calm, productive approach.
Perhaps most importantly, it is clear that he has a real passion for the guitar, and this is inspiring and exciting for his students.
In addition to a strong working knowledge of playing the guitar, Paul also possesses a natural skill and affinity for teaching – his videos are engaging and interesting, and manage to hit that tricky balance of appealing to players of almost all abilities.
He is also a rare breed amongst many online and YouTune teachers – his videos are clear, sharp, and relevant, with extremely high production levels which makes them easy to follow.
All of these factors combine to present a man who is skilled and talented at playing the guitar, passionate about inspiring others, and more than extremely competent when it comes to sharing his knowledge.
All of this is relevant when we are taking a closer look at the Learn, Practice, Play course – the man behind the magic already has a strong reputation within the field, helping to offer his students more confidence in their purchase.
It also makes it easier to justify the price tag for the course, which is a little higher than some of the other options on the market. When we consider the extensive experience of the creator, however, this seems a reasonable price tag.
One of the trickiest elements of purchasing a course online, especially for something like a musical instrument, is to try and establish the intended target audience.
The last thing that you want is to purchase a course that is too easy or too advanced, particularly when you are parting with larger sums of money.
From our experience, it appears that Learn, Practice, Play is primarily intended for those who are learning to play the acoustic guitar and are looking for a smooth, structured plan to follow in order to help them improve their skills and see steady progress over time.
It is likely to be a good idea to have a little experience before you purchase the course – this is not the best option if you have picked up a guitar for the very first time, and are looking for something for total beginners.
You can, however, purchase the course with the expectation that you will have to put a little work in before you are ready to start the first module, and this can make it a great motivational tool.
As a rule, the course seems to be targeted to those who already have a basic level of experience, but are struggling to get out of the beginner’s stage and make progress.
The creator, Paul, describes the program as being an ideal fit for players who are “frustrated with their progress”, and so it would appear that having a good foundation, and knowledge of some of the basics of guitar playing, is likely to be helpful, and allow you to get the most from the course.
This does not mean that you need to be able to play a song necessarily, but knowing how to strum a couple of cords, hold the guitar, and distinguish between notes will give you a real head start.
As we mentioned, the nature of the course seems to be targeted towards acoustic players and includes sections on fingerpicking and other acoustic skills.
While you are likely to see some benefits with an electric guitar, we would recommend starting with an acoustic – this will allow you to keep the same instrument as the course develops and moves to more complex skills.
Perhaps the most important question that you will have will be revolving around cost. Learn, Practice Play does come in at a slightly higher price tag than some other options and will set you back $199.
While this may initially seem high, it is worth noting that this amount does grant you lifetime access to the course, meaning that you can revisit lessons and modules, or even work through the entire thing again at a later date.
This is a real benefit, and instantly offers an amazing value for money that is not necessarily seen by cheaper courses, which often have a limit or restriction on how long students can access the material.
It is also worth noting that while the initial cost may seem high, this is a single, one-off payment, rather than being charged weekly or monthly, as is the case with some other music or tuition courses.
When considering the cost, we must also look at the skills, expertise, and background of the provider – and as we have mentioned, Paul Davids is not only an experienced music teacher but a highly skilled and qualified guitar player in his own right.
This offers a real legitimacy to the course, as well as helping to explain the slightly higher price tag.
There is also an argument that this one-off purchase is lower than the cost of ongoing private lessons or tuition, and this is also a factor to consider – as any music fan will be aware, lessons are far from cheap.
What Is Included?
Now that we have taken a look at the name behind the course, and analyzed a breakdown of the cost, it is time to take a closer look at just what is involved, and what you will be receiving for that $199 investment.
The Learn, Practice, Play course contains 55 lessons in total, and these are split across 7 larger modules. The program moves systematically – in the beginning, you will only be able to access Module 1, and this will be the case for the first two weeks after purchase.
Following this two-week period, the next module will open up, and this continues every two weeks thereafter until all 7 modules are available – and once they are unlocked, they remain unlocked and accessible for life.
The original aim is to complete the course in 14 weeks, encouraging students to work logically through each stage in order to secure a strong foundation and understanding of each module before moving on to the next one.
This also helps to prevent students from becoming overwhelmed if they open a later module and find that it seems far too difficult – for some, this can be a motivation to quit while they are ahead.
By unlocking each module systematically, Paula Davids is ensuring steady, calm progression, each stage of which is built on the lessons and foundations of the one before, and this allows students to make steady but noticeable progress.
As an added bonus, you will be able to return to old modules once you have completed them or repeat them straight away if you want more practice, thanks to the lifetime access.
While the course is designed to be chronological, there is a bonus here that helps this program stand out from its competitors.
In the event that you find you are progressing more quickly than anticipated, there is no need to worry about getting bored or losing motivation, as you can email the team at Learn, Practice, Play, and they will unlock any further modules at your request.
This is important: while you are encouraged to move forwards at a decent, but steady pace, you can also increase the challenge if you find yourself becoming bored, or discover that the early stages are too easy for you.
This is crucial for maintaining motivation and guarantees that you get your money’s worth.
Each module follows a similar format, with a few elements included in each:
- A video explanation and playthrough of the lessons included
- A downloadable module workbook in PDF form, with TAB
- A downloadable backing track
- Synthesized recordings, which can be played along with. These show both in-time notation and TAB.
- In some lessons, advanced exercises are also included – these tend to be as you move further through the modules.
- Emails from Paul Davids, offering encouragement during your learning
- Access to the Facebook group to connect with other members and discuss the lessons. This is great for both support and motivation and can be useful if you are struggling with a particular aspect of the module or course. It is also great to connect with like-minded music fans!
Overall, this is a very comprehensive package, and does feel like great value for money – you are fully supported at every stage, and the tools that you need to learn and progress have already included saving you the time and effort of having to go elsewhere and hunt down the materials that you need.
In terms of quality and convenience, the elements included are top-notch. In addition to the elements we have already mentioned, there are a few additional resources available with the course to help boost the value, and these include:
- A PDF print out Practice Tracker, to allow you to track and monitor your progress – this can be very motivational
- A glossary of key guitar terms to allow you to hit the ground running
- A chord chart for fast, easy reference
- A video on how to care for your guitar, helping you to protect your investment – this can also help you to “bond” with your guitar, offering a deeper connection that can really help your progress and learning.
As an added bonus, each module in the course comes with a series of Advanced Lessons – as the name suggests, these are intermediate or advanced segments, which offer the chance to take the lesson you have learned, and take things one step further – this is ideal for taking your lesson to the next level, and to really take a deep dive look at the things that you have learned and enjoyed in each lesson and module.
As we mentioned, there are a total of seven modules, and this is in addition to an introductory “Getting Started” module which offers a lot of very useful information and assistance.
Getting Started Module
It can be tempting to skip the introductory modules of any course, but we would recommend giving this one your time – this is a great overview of the entire program, and clearly sets out everything you can expect to cover and enjoy from the course.
The videos are clear, succinct and to the point, and always have the same end goal: to get you started with actually practicing and playing as quickly as possible.
The intro is a brief outline, and also tells you how you can get the most from each of the modules, and the course in general, as well as covering some basic housekeeping, such as getting used to the feel and weight of your guitar and assuming the correct posture and hand position – by focusing on these essentials from the very beginning, the course does a great job of setting you up for success, reducing the risk of falling into bad habits, and ensuring that you do not have to waste time later on going back and unlearning things.
This introduction also helps you with locating the tools and exercises you will be using throughout the module and making sure that you understand everything so that you can leap into the tuition with total confidence.
The information is clear, concise, and free from fluff, keeping you focused on the end goal.
As we have mentioned, the course as a whole is more focused on those who have already mastered the basics of actually holding a guitar – this section is more about refining those skills and developing comfort and confidence; revising the skill rather than teaching it from scratch.
As a result, those who are fairly new to the guitar may feel a little overwhelmed, and will need to spend plenty of time perfecting their finger positions, posture and just generally feeling ok with holding the instrument.
It is important not to rush or skip this, as a solid foundation will form the basis of everything that is to come.
As we have mentioned, Module 1 is the first module to be unlocked and, unless you specifically contact the team, will be the only module available to you for the first two weeks after your purchase. This is a solid first step, and covers five lessons in total:
- Lesson 1: Melody: The Magical Four Notes
- Lesson 2: Chords: Em and Asus2
- Lesson 3: Scale: Em Pentatonic
- Lesson 4: Theory: The Notes
- Lesson 5: Chords: Am and C, and Em, C, G and D
As you can see, there is a good range of content to cover in the first module, and this should be more than enough to keep you busy for the first two weeks – at least.
The program focuses on getting you playing the guitar as soon as possible, allowing you to put your learning, theory, and skills into practice, and this is one of the best ways to learn and progress.
The inclusion of the backing track allows you to feel as though you are really making progress and building to play a melody, while a combination of topics offers a broad, but firm foundation – all of these will be very important as you move through the modules.
There is a great blend of keeping students engaged while delivering what can be fry topics such as Theory, and you will work to create a melody composed of the individual notes you learn, open chords, and a pentatonic scale, all set to a cool backing track.
Perhaps the most important element of this module is the clear path to progression – you feel as though you have really learned and achieved something, and that more exciting things are to come – this is crucial to help you remain engaged and motivated.
The second module kicks things up slightly, introducing more new terms, concepts, and notes, and building on the information students learned in Module 1. This time, there are six lessons to work through:
- Lesson 1: Scales: Major Scales
- Lesson 2: Melody: Mediterranean I
- Lesson 3: Chords: Am, G, F, E
- Lesson 4: Scale: Am Pentatonic
- Lesson 5: Chords: Twelve Bar Blues
- Lesson 6: Solo: The Blues
One of the most impressive aspects of Module 2 is the speed at which you will progress – here, students will be introduced to the C Major scale; a scale that is crucial to a number of popular guitar pieces, but which is not usually introduced to newbies at this stage.
This is a major benefit; mastering the C Major scale helps you to feel as though you are really learning to play songs and tunes, rather than simply repeating scales, and it is a lot of fun to start trying to pick out the scale in your favorite songs. Module 2 also features your first introduction to the “Mediterranean melody”, which will prove to be an important part of the course moving forward.
This is featured in other modules as you progress, and forms a great baseline piece, as you can really see how your skills evolve and develop as you continue to practice. In addition, the Am pentatonic scale is introduced – this is fairly easy on the fingers, making it great for newbies; though you should still expect a few blisters!
Overall, students will leave the second module feeling confident that they are making tangible progress, and should already be able to hear a significant difference in their playing and performance ability.
As we move to Module 3, you will start to learn new skills such as alternate picking, and this is where your style and performance will really start to come to life.
A new melody offers a new challenge, and this module offers the chance to try power chords – a must in any guitar player’s repertoire! There are five lessons here:
- Lesson 1: Melody: Wondrous Open Strings
- Lesson 2: Chords: Power Chords
- Lesson 3: Scale: Blues Scale in E Minor
- Lesson 4: Theory: Intervals
- Lesson 5: Chords: Major Chord Progression
Once again, Module 3 focuses primarily on “doing” rather than just seeing, and this offers the chance to really learn as you go along.
Alternate picking is introduced, and the importance of this is emphasized but, crucially, the program does not run the risk of confusing students by introducing too much, too soon.
While we are told that this is going to be an important skill, and the basics of actually performing the technique, the technical why and know-how is kept for another week.
This could be frustrating for students who are keen to know everything at once, but it is actually beneficial; you are not overloaded with information that could very easily get complicated and confusing.
By the time you understand the technical nuances, alternate picking will already be a standard, established part of your skillset, and this automation will free up a part of your brain to go into it in more detail, allowing you to fully appreciate the “science” behind it.
This is a smart way of teaching and avoids the risk of students becoming disheartened or overwhelmed – both of which can be key aspects in quitting or giving up.
In Module 3, there is also a focus on power chords, and once again these are presented in an easy-to-follow, engaging way, being used as part of the overall song to provide plenty of context to the lesson – not only do you understand what you need to do, but you also come to appreciate why it is done, and the effect that it has in a final song.
All of these aspects come together to create a holistic learning experience and, once again, students can really hear themselves improving which is hugely motivational.
Module 4 of the course dives into one of the styles of music most associated with acoustic guitars: welcome to country music!
While this may not be to everyone’s personal taste, it is an excellent way to highlight and showcase the skills which form the lessons in the module and gives you a chance to really hear the theory in action, as well as try it for yourself.
There are six lessons to work your way through in Module 4:
- Lesson 1: Melody: Andantino
- Lesson 2: Melody: To The Country
- Lesson 3: Theory: Chords
- Lesson 4: Chords: Sus2, Sus4
- Lesson 5: Scale: C Major Scale (No Open Strings)
- Lesson 6: Chords: D, Cadd9, G
Module 4 focuses predominantly on open chords and some very impressive chord progressions, and country music is a great platform to showcase these.
Module 5 is something of a recap, offering the chance to return to that melody you were mastering in Module 2, and seeing how far your progress has come – you are likely to be very impressed with yourself! There are another six lessons to work through here:
- Lesson 1: Melody: Mediterranean II
- Lesson 2: Chords: Am7, Fadd9 and C; and Em7, G and Dsus4
- Lesson 3: Strumming: Ghost Strum
- Lesson 4: Scale: A Minor
- Lesson 5: Chords: Blues in E
- Lesson 6: Solo: Blues Improvisation
Module 5 will see you working on a fingerpicking arrangement, and this offers real depth and richness to your playing – this is where you learn that great, multi-tonal sound that imitates multiple guitars.
Chords are another major element of this module, adding “spice” to the basic chords you have perfected so far – this is where you will really see how the foundations you built earlier are starting to benefit you.
The module ends with the Blues – an essential element of any guitar player’s arsenal – and once again, you will return to Module 1, and to the Em pentatonic scale, you mastered there.
Now, you get to take what you learned there and practice improvisation over a backing track – which is included in the course and provided for you.
You will have a few pieces and phrases for initial inspiration, and these are great for getting started.
Once you start to grow in confidence and ability, you will be able to widen your repertoire, picking up new ideas and inspirations to mix together and create something new.
As we head towards the end of the course, you will start to really bring your skills to life, and start to notice an amazing shift in your ability.
This is also where you will start to build and develop your own playing style, and grab another set of skills in your toolkit. The six lessons in this module are:
- Lesson 1: Chords: Slash Chords and Walking Bass
- Lesson 2: Strumming: Palm Muting II
- Lesson 3: Theory: The Chords in a Key
- Lesson 4: Melody and Chords: Mediterranean III
- Lesson 5: Chords: Advanced Fingerpicking Patterns
- Lesson 6: Riffs: Levels I and II
You will kick off your studies of Module 6 with an exciting range of slash chords – this involves the modification of major chords, and, when combined with the walking bass line taking you from C to G, the end result will offer you the chance to enjoy some quality sounds.
This module offers you a chance to experiment a little more, and you should notice a massive increase in your confidence. Barre chords and palm muting also feature – this can be tricky, but it is well worth putting the hours in, as this is a great skill to master.
Be prepared to put in plenty of practice, and you will soon see results.
One of the most exciting elements of this module is the return to the past – you will hear the familiar tunes of the Mediterranean melody, but it is now grown and built upon using a series of chords, including the G Major scale, before blending these to create new sounds and opportunities for creation.
It is an amazing feeling to realize how far you have come, the progress you have made, and the potential you still have. As an added bonus, this is the module that you get to riff – a major goal of every serious guitar fan!
As you move to the seventh and final stage of the course, you get the chance to put everything you have learned so far into action, and you get the chance to see it all come together.
This is where all of your hard work will finally pay off, and you can see the results. There are six final lessons to enjoy, and these are:
- Lesson 1: Solos: Advanced Licks
- Lesson 2: Strumming: Dynamic Strumming
- Lesson 3: Chords: Power Chords II
- Lesson 4: Theory: How to Play Along With A Song
- Lesson 5: Chords: Barre Chords, Levels I, II, and III
- Bonus Lesson: Our Last Melody
- What Happens Next?
As we enter the final stages, students get a chance to put their own spin on everything that they have learned so far.
Things step up, and lessons include essentials such as pull-offs, hammer-ons, and sliding, as well as bends and triplets. If these all looked like a foreign language when you started the course, then there is no need to fear – everything will fall into place and start to make perfect sense.
Power chords and riffs make another appearance, and the course includes another backing track to play along with to really bring your music to life.
This is also a chance to revisit barre chords – these can be a real challenge, and so it makes sense to leave them to the last module when you have a chance to really appreciate and enjoy them without being overwhelmed.
By now, you will be more confident and capable, and less likely to be intimidated by trickier concepts.
Module 7 also sees you start to look at the ways in which you can bring your music to life, and put your own spin on your guitar playing.
This includes taking a closer look at the dynamics in your strumming – this is essential for helping you to take your sound from merely following the music to making your own music, and helps everything to sound a little more interesting.
You will also cover some of the best tips in the business – including how to play along with the majority of songs once you can figure out two very important factors: the first and last chord.
These vital pieces of information give you an insight into the scale, and allow you to play along with pretty much any song, whether you know it or not – this proves to be a pretty cool party trick!
As a little extra, Module 7 ends with a bonus lesson – and this takes you right back to your first day, and that very first melody that you ever learned on the course.
Now that you have completed all seven modules, you will be in a prime position to transform this melody into something really special, bringing together the bass notes, chords, and melodies that you have perfected over the last seven modules to add your own spin on it – this is when you will truly appreciate just how far you have come.
Once you have completed the entire course, you will then enjoy a final video, which describes the option that you have for moving forward, and the next natural step in your career.
You will also receive information about the next course in Paul Davids series – Next Level Playing. If you have enjoyed Learn, Practice, Play, then this is a great, logical next step.
Learn, Practice, Play: The Good Points
Now that we have had a chance to take a closer look at the overview and details of the course, it is time to come to a decision: is Learn, Practice, Play worth the investment, and will it help to transform you from total novice to wild rockstar?
Well, for starters, this is not the best course for total novices – you should have some idea of how to hold a guitar before you kick things off. Once you are in, however, the course offers a rich variety of lessons and covers everything you need to know to play a variety of quality songs.
The course is well-paced, keeping you engaged and motivated, and the ability to return to any module at any point is a major advantage. The lifetime access is a major selling point of the course and means that the slightly higher initial investment is well worth it.
The course is relatively short – especially compared to some of the other courses on the market – but this lifetime access makes up for this.
Another major advantage of the course is the mix of material, and this blends well with the pacing. In a single module, you may learn about music theory, how to perform solo work, open chords, and a couple of scales, giving you a great combination of skills to help you progress quickly.
This blend occurs from the very first module of the course, and this means that you can start seeing results right from the start – a welcome relief to the range of other courses where you have to play for twenty hours before you can play a single note confidently.
The blend of material is also perfect for keeping you engaged and motivated – you will be constantly moving from topic to topic, skill to skill, and covering a variety of bases within the space of a single module – if not a single lesson.
Rather than being forced to repeat one thing time and again until you master it, you have the chance to cover a range of skills, and your proficiency and strength will grow the more you repeat the lesson over the course of several modules.
The lessons themselves are small and easy to manage, divided into convenient, bite-size chunks and are timed to offer a perfect balance of plenty of information, without being overwhelming.
It is possible to enjoy a satisfying level of challenge, without feeling intimidated or frustrated by having too much information thrown at you at once.
Here again, the option to repeat a lesson is extremely useful, and the length of the lesson means that they are manageable enough to repeat without it being a major issue, allowing you to really perfect a topic before you move on.
The level of difficulty is also well balanced – there is a challenge to get your teeth into, and no lesson is so easy that you feel you will have wasted your hard-earned cash.
One of the major plus points of the course is the combination of theory and practicality, which is rarely seen in many online music tuition courses.
Theory and playing go hand-in-hand and are taught alongside each other, allowing you to progress more quickly. The theory is also taught in a light, easy manner, rather than being dry and hard to wade through.
This is ideal for beginners, who can often be overwhelmed by the theory that comes with successful musician tuition.
The inclusion of a backing track with each module is a nice touch, and means that you can play and progress easily – you are not only following a course and learning how to play guitar, but you are actually making music.
Motivation and encouragement is ongoing throughout the course, with a series of automated emails sent with the opening of each new module, and this offers a real personal touch that can gently push you towards the next stage. Paul’s teaching experience is obvious in every single lesson, and this friendly, motivational approach is perfect for building your confidence, as well as your ability.
Areas To Be Wary Of
While on the whole, Learn, Practice, Play ticks pretty much every box, there are a few areas to be aware of.
The biggest issue is the level of ability that the course is aimed at – this is not detailed enough for a total beginner to start playing, and this feels like something of a missed opportunity.
While there is an introductory “Getting Started” module, designed to cover the basics, this is unlikely to offer the same level of detail as would be required for a total novice.
One of the only other main criticisms of the course is the lack of popular, well-known songs available to play, but this is a minor criticism when you consider the fact that the course equips you with the skills and abilities to turn your talents to pretty much any song.
While it can be a little frustrating to go through the course with little-known tunes, it is important to remember that this is a course designed to turn you into an independent guitar player – and part of this involves sourcing your own songs, and experimenting with new pieces and options to create your own sound.
The lack of popular song options can be frustrating, however, especially when this feature is included in other, cheaper courses, or even for free via YouTube.
The fact that the creator, Paul, also features a number of popular songs on his own YouTube channel also makes the lack of options in the course a little frustrating.
Final Verdict: Is Learn, Practice, Play Worth It?
So, with all things considered, is Learn, Practice, Play worth the initial investment? Ultimately, we would argue that it is. There is no denying that the course has a few issues, and these are teething problems.
Some users have reported that they feel the program is a little light in content, especially given the higher price tag, and that they can supplement or find alternative information for free online.
While it is true that you may be able to find all of the information contained in the course for a lower price, or even for free in some cases, the Learn, Practice, Play program puts all of these skills, lessons, and tips into one simple, easy-to-follow roadmap.
Rather than having to put all of the pieces together yourself, and try to figure out the best way to proceed through the mass of information available on the internet, the program provides you with a clear, easy-to-follow structure, allowing you to focus on playing, not building a curriculum.
There have also been some issues with the course not being suitable for total novices, and it is true that there are a few details and “hand-holding” opportunities omitted from the early stages, even when taking the introductory video into account.
Despite this, it can still be argued that there is a place for the course in a beginner’s repertoire – you can move straight onto the first module as soon as you know the basics.
Criticisms have also been made about the repetitive nature of some of the exercises and lessons, including the option to revisit old melodies and techniques.
In truth, however, this offers a great opportunity to really appreciate how far you have come – it is only by making a direct comparison to where you started that you can truly appreciate your progress, and arguably, a wide variety of different songs, without the option to revisit your first attempt, would not be accurate in conveying that progress as clearly.
In addition, the repetition of the first melody is always accompanied by the inclusion of a new skill or feature, and this is important in learning how songs are crafted and constructed – something you will need to get to grips with when you start sourcing your own songs to play, and especially when you start creating your own music.
One of the top benefits of the course is the method of teaching – you are never made to feel as though you are in a classroom setting. Instead, the focus is on playing, and there is an excellent blend of theory and practicality to allow you to boost your knowledge and your skill side-by-side.
Rather than being distracted by endless theory lectures, the course is designed so that a large portion of the time, you are learning – without realizing that you are actually learning.
Overall, this is a strong, solid course, which can take you from the initial stages of your guitar-playing journey – albeit, a few steps ahead of the start line – to performing your own pieces, and being able to choose a range of songs of your own taste and preferences to experiment with and adapt.
Learn, Practice, Play is the brainchild of an experienced teacher, and a passionate guitar player – and this quality is evident at every stage of the course. If you are serious about honing your skills, this is the way to go.