(Photo right: CvH being stalked by DiJ regular Emmett Mahoney)

Answer: because there are so many ways to “follow” him—through the Rosenberg Academy, his own Hemert Academy, his youtube channel, his facebook page, etc—that doing so pretty much amounts to stalking.

And yes, you should, if you are interested in a drip feed of very practical—that is, practice-oriented—advice from him.

This will be Christiaan van Hemert’s first visit to Django in June, and one thing I very much appreciate about his approach is that he understands the difference between face-to-face versus media-mediated instruction. Sure, it’s great that we all have access to more and more instructional material through videos, DVD’s, streaming, CD’s…even this newfangled thing called a “book.” He’s very much in that business himself through the Rosenberg Academy, and in the text below he gives an appreciative nod to the similar work Denis Chang is doing through his DC Music School.

But none of that replaces face-to-face interaction. Christiaan and Denis do not have so much to offer because they’ve watched so many videos; it’s because they’ve gone way out of their way to work, play and develop personal relationships with true experts in this style, for years. (Oh…and they’ve practiced, a lot.)

I’m going to paste a link to, and the text from, a long facebook post of Christiaan’s below. But in case you don’t make it to the end here’s his concluding sentence, one I couldn’t have put much better myself:

In my experience it is very difficult to fully explain this thing over Skype (and I dislike doing it that way) so come to DIJ if you want to know all the details. Or if you see me at another festival, just ask me about it!

Yeah, like that.

Here’s a link to the actual facebook post, which includes video and a written transcription.

The remaining text is from Christiaan’s post, just to give you a taste of what he’s proposing to offer at DiJ this summer:

After the short video I posted last week with “the four dominant chord positions of the Dutch Style” I got a lot of questions, some mails and a bunch of requests for Skype lessons to explain it further. Eric Lecordieralso made and shared a transcription, thanks for that!

I’ve decided to make a follow up video (sort of) in which I show a similar system for 6/maj7 chords. I annotated the video to give you an idea of what’s happening and I also threw in the whole thing in half speed at the end.

Everyone that has ever had a lesson with me knows I love systematic approaches. I have an improv system for violin (which is nothing like the one for guitar) and I have a very specific one for (gypsy) jazz guitar which I’ve decided to call the “van Hemert system” from now on (is that catchy? smile emoticon ) It’s something I came up with myself and I’ve never really seen this exact thing anywhere else.

A full explanation of the system is actually quite long but it helped me to get to a professional level of lead guitar playing very fast (I started playing lead guitar in 2011). I think that for someone who already has a solid technique and doesn’t have to come up with the system while learning how to play guitar at the same time, it can be even faster. The nicest thing about the system is that it doesn’t push you towards a specific style. After getting down the basics you can go in any direction you want and get there fast.

You don’t need good ears for the system to work or a high level knowledge of music theory. You DO need to put in a lot of hours, develop a sound technique and have a good source of transcriptions (which is easy to come by nowadays with the Rosenberg Academy and the DC music school).

My plan is to spend a lot of time in DIJ on the specifics of this system. If you feel stuck or don’t know where to start this system could very well be the solution. It’s not vague or open to interpretation, it’s actually very precise and it is crystal clear in what you have to practice which is a real benefit because starting with improvisation can seem daunting and very frustrating.

Here’s an explanation of what happens in the video:

– In the video I refer to 4 positions by number but I actually remember the positions myself by notes on the high/low E-string. So in Bb the first position is with my first finger on the root (6th fret), position 2 is with my first finger on the third (D), position 3 first finger on fifth (F) and position 4 first finger on sixth (G)

– The positions are flexible and I can move my hand one or two frets down or up

– The basis of the system is a specific lick/phrase per position (which I don’t show in the video)

– In the video I play random licks that I categorized per position (so not the basis licks) to show you some of the possibilities. I also mention the players I probably got them from or inspired the specific phrase

– The original players might not use the same fingerings or positions, I translate all new licks to my system so that they have some connection to the basic lick for that position and thus fit seamlessly with all the other phrases that I’m already playing.

A little more about the system itself.

The system is organized in the following categories:

– static 6/maj7 chords
– static minor chords (both m7 and m6)
– static dominant chords
– II-V-I
– christophe changes

So, do I really use this system while playing? You bet ya, I’m using it all the time. I’m constantly aware from which position I’m playing during a solo and because I categorized everything per position it’s easy (almost automatic) to connect everything in a musical way.

In my experience it is very difficult to fully explain this thing over Skype (and I dislike doing it that way) so come to DIJ if you want to know all the details or if you see me at another festival, just ask me about it!

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