Building Finger Independence

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Don Ross

This series is all about fostering the ability for your fingers to play independent of each other. Mastering this skill will give your playing a living, organic feel and open up previously unimaginable doors.

30 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

Join Don as he gives you very specific exercises designed to challenge and train your fingers and brain to do very different things at the same time. He brings these exercises together in very fun and useful songs!


Introduction to the Series

Don Ross introduces the series, and talks about exactly what you will learn. He also demonstrates two songs that will be taught in this series, so it's informative and inspirational.

6:25 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Breaking out of Typical Rhythm Patterns

In this lesson Don Ross introduces the concept of polyrhythms, or playing two different rhythms at once. This technique can add depth and flexibility to your playing, but be warned, it is challenging!

7:07 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Polyrhythmic Picking Patterns: 3 Against 2

Don Ross introduces a 3 against 2 polyrhythm. He starts off by demonstrating how to get the rhythm "in your bones" by tapping it out with your hands, and then goes on to demonstrate how it can be applied to the guitar.

14:40 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Playing 3 Against 2 Part 2

It's time to take the 3 against 2 polyrhtyhm one step further. In the previous lesson Don showed how this could be applied on two strings; this time around he breaks that barrier.

8:34 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Playing 3 Against 2 Part 3

Don Ross ups the complexity of the 3 against 2 polyrhythm he has been teaching. The fun is just starting!

6:11 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Playing 3 Against 2 Part 4

These polyrhythm exercises are really starting to get interesting. Don complicates the bass line further in this lesson, giving us an alluring mix of a 3 against 2 polyrhythm, arpeggiated chords and a moving bass line.

11:31 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Polyrhythmic Picking Pattern #2: 4 Against 3

It's time to graduate to a new polyrythmic pattern: 4 against 3. Think of this as 3 against 2's big brother; it's more complex, it's a little harder, but it also packs a bigger musical punch.

18:21 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


4 Against 3 Part 2

It's practice time! Get your guitar out and follow along to learn how to apply the 4 against 3 polyrhythm with a more complex pattern. This will astound and impress your friends.

5:08 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


4 Against 3 Part 3

Don once again returns to the mesmerizing world of 4 against 3 polyrhythms. This time he teaches a more complex variation with an alternating bassline. These exercises may seem challenging, but remember: they will enable you to play complex songs later in this series.

7:18 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


4 Against 3 Part 4

Head up! We are almost there! This is the last exercise in the 4 against 3 polyrhythm section. This time Don makes the bassline more difficult. Remember, once you have these techniques down, you will unlock a world of musical possibilities.

14:25 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Using Polyrhythms in Compositions

In this quick yet powerful lesson, Don demonstrates how polyrhythm can be used in musical compositions. Apply these tips to your own playing and watch as your friends and family gasp in awe.

13:29 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Stop Driving, Start Playing Introduction

Now that you have a basic understanding of polyrhythm, it's time to move on to a song. In this lesson Don demonstrates his song "Stop Driving ,Start Playing," and talks about it's history and gets you up to speed on the tuning.

18:27 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Stop Driving, Start Playing: The First 8 Bars

Don Ross teaches the first 8 bars of his original song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

22:35 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Stop Driving, Start Playing: The Second 8 Bars

Don Ross teaches the second 8 bars of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

32:18 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Stop Driving, Start Playing: The B Section

Don Ross moves on and starts teaching the B section of his hit song, "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

14:18 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Stop Driving, Start Playing: The B Section Part 2

Don Ross moves on and teaches the rest of the B section of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

22:10 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Understanding the Relative Minor

In this lesson Don Ross talks about the concept of relative major and relative minor. This gives you an easy way to transition between two related keys and expand your musical prowess to previously unimaginable levels!

14:21 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Using the Relative Keys in Standard Tuning

In this lesson Don Ross takes the concept of the relative minor and major keys and demonstrates how it can be utilized in standard tuning.

11:29 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Relative Minor and Major Keys in Alternate Tunings

Don will discuss how the relative minor and major keys can be used with alternate tunings. In specific, he will look at the Open F, or FACFCF tuning.

10:01 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Reviewing the Ripple Effect

Don Ross reviews the ultra-cool technique commonly known as "The Ripple Effect." This will impress your friends and family without a doubt, and will be necessary for upcoming lessons in this series.

8:47 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Cup of Pop Tunings: Eb Major 9th Tuning

It's time to start learning the song "Cup of Pop," as it is an excellent way to reinforce all of the skills taught in this series, and sounds amazing to boot. In this first lesson we will look at the tuning this song is in, and explore all of its delicate sensibilities. He also shows the relative minor of the scale, because this song features a live re-tuning of your guitar!

10:12 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Ripple Effect in Eb Major 9th Tuning

Before we can learn the song "Cup of Pop" we need to make sure we can play "The Ripple Effect" in this stunning tuning.

3:05 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Ripple and Tap Technique

"The Ripple Effect" is insanely cool on it's own, but insanely cool isn't good enough for Don Ross. In this lesson we learn his modification of the technique which he calls "The Ripple and Tap." It's even cooler, as if that were ever in doubt. This technique is necessary for learning "Cup of Pop."

8:14 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Ripple and Tap in Double-time

Don Ross takes the "Ripple and Tap" technique from the last lesson and demonstrates how it can be used in double-time.

4:31 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Cup of Pop A Section

Don Ross teaches the first section of his hit tune, "Cup of Pop." Limber up your hands, because this will be a challenge!

44:03 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Cup of Pop B Section

Don Ross launches into the B section of his illustrious and highly difficult song, "Cup of Pop."

18:58 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Cup of Pop C Section : First Re-tuning

In this lesson Don Ross takes a look at one of the signature moments from "Cup of Pop," an on-the-fly re-tuning of the guitar.

9:07 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty


Cup of Pop D Section

Don Ross returns to the song "Cup of Pop" to teach the venerated D section. This comes after the re-tuning, and acts as a bridge in the relative minor key.

7:31 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Cup of Pop E Section : Second Re-tuning

It's time to return to the original tuning for the song. Don discusses the E section in which this phenomon occurs.

5:57 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty


Cup of Pop Ending

"All good things must end" may sound rather cliche, yet at the end of this fabulous song the words ring true. Join Don as he wraps the song up.

10:52 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty

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Don Ross

  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Playing since 1968
  • 73 lessons at JamPlay

Don has toured regularly since 1989, across Canada, the USA, a dozen European countries, Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia, Russia and India. He has played with symphony orchestras in Canada and Germany, and collaborated live and on recording with Andy McKee, Canadian singer/guitarist Brooke Miller, & Toronto bassist Jordan O’Connor. He also composes scores for television, radio and film, and does production and recording engineering for a variety of other musicians. In addition to acoustic guitar, Don also plays electric guitar, slide dobro and lapsteel guitar, voice, piano, keyboards, bass guitar and drums.
Reviews & Feedback 81/100 with 237 ratings

Clear instructions and good explanations


excellent instructions with guitar display angles for learning


Don explains things really clearly and makes the math (which I never liked) easier to understand. Starts of complicated sounding, but by the end of the lesson it's clear as a bell. : )


I am a teacher and love how Don Ross builds on each concept! Wonderful!


Fantastic, challenging and just what I've been looking for to move forward with my fingerpicking skills!


Good job explaining and good pacing. I really want to cut those damn string ends off though :)


Great guitar player!


Great teacher. Inspiring


This step by step series really helps me out. I'm a bit of a slow learner, so this really makes it more understandable for me. It's like bite sized lessons, rather then "Here ya go, learn away" the lessons build on the previous one in a nice a


Has a no nonsense approach.


He does a great job breaking down the concepts. Makes them understandable and easy to apply.


I his style


I like this teacher


I would absolutely love to play anywhere close to Don. Looking forward to the challenge.


Just great!


Progress bar stopped at 2% Supplement, comment etc all not working. No go without supplement at least.