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Don Ross began playing guitar virtually by accident.
There was always a lot of music around the house. Don’s dad is an operatically-trained singer. So, the Ross kids heard plenty of voice exercises around their Montreal home as well as classical music on the record player growing up (not to mention the occasional blast of the bagpipes when Don’s dad felt like waking up the neighbors with another musical skill he acquired growing up in Scotland!). Don was a very musical ... (more)
Don currently offers 71 guitar lessons at JamPlay, with 71 intermediate lessons.
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Don Ross, an award-winning, Billboard-topping fingerstyle artist, will teach you everything you need to know to get started in fingerstyle guitar.
New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should expect in this series.
Don Ross talks about the way he plays and how he got started in his particular style. He also brushes on right hand technique and thumb pick style.
Don Ross takes some time to talk about where he places each right hand finger while playing fingerstyle. This is a great lesson for those who wish to fix old habits, or are just starting out in this wonderful style.
Don Ross talks about fingerpicking patterns with a focus on Travis Picking. He explains the pattern thoroughly and at a step-by-step pace so that it can be picked up by fingerstyle players of any level.
Don Ross dives into Travis Picking once more. This time, he specifically focuses on patterns for chords that have a root note on the fifth string.
This time, Don Ross demonstrates Travis patterns with chords that have a root note on the fourth string.
Having thoroughly explored Travis picking, Don Ross now takes some time to talk about the "thumb and brush" technique.
Don Ross takes a couple lessons to talk about altered tunings and open tunings. In this lesson, he takes a closer look at altered tunings.
Don Ross now discusses open tunings. Open tunings get their name because the open strings are tuned to a specific chord.
Don Ross talks more about open G tuning and how to make it more applicable to your playing by applying the Travis pattern you have already learned.
Don Ross talks about open D tuning, how it's similar to open C tuning, and how you can incorporate it into your playing.
In this lesson, Don Ross explains open C tuning. As with the G and D tuning lessons, he explains how open C compares to other open tunings, how to tune, and what it can add to your playing.
Don Ross looks at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. He explores different ways to play, how to tune, and discusses why it has become so popular.
Don Ross takes another look at DADGAD and how you can play harmonically in this tuning.
Don Ross continues his discussion on DADGAD tuning and brings it all together with Travis picking.
Don Ross takes a final look at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. This time, he explores some great chord voicings that are sure to spice up your playing.
Don Ross takes a look at a unique and beautiful tuning, CDCGAD, or in Don's words, the "Fred" tuning, and explores what can be done with it.
Don Ross takes a look at the first part of his original song "Brooke's Waltz". This song is in the CGCGAD tuning you learned about in the previous lesson.
Don Ross moves on and covers the second portion of his original song "Brooke's Waltz".
Don Ross finishes up the trio of lesson on his song "Brooke's Waltz". This time around he talks about the song structure, as well as the funky behind-the-nut vibrato he ends the song with.
In this lesson, Don talks about how you can use simple music theory to add colorful extensions to your chords and also create new open tunings. This is a very useful lesson for all guitarists.
Don Ross delves into one of his sweeter melodies - "Upright & Locked Position". In this lesson, he offers a short review on the tuning he uses and teaches the first portion of the tune.
Don Ross teaches the B section of his song "Upright & Locked Position".
Don Ross returns to his song "Upright & Locked Position" and teaches the C part. He then talks about combining the three major sections of this song, as well as how to end it.
Harmonics sound awesome, and no player's arsenal is complete without this versatile technique. Don introduces harmonics and talks about playing both natural and artificial variations.
Don Ross talks about "slap" harmonics and "brush" harmonics and how they can be used.
Don Ross teaches a harmonic technique he calls the "ripple effect". This technique was originally made popular by guitar legend Lenny Breau.
Don Ross builds on lesson 28 by discussing more ways in which the "ripple effect" can be used.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Don Ross ups the complexity of the 3 against 2 polyrhythm he has been teaching. The fun is just starting!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don Ross teaches the first 8 bars of his original song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."
Don Ross teaches the second 8 bars of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."
Don Ross moves on and starts teaching the B section of his hit song, "Stop Driving, Start Playing."
Don Ross moves on and teaches the rest of the B section of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Before we can learn the song "Cup of Pop" we need to make sure we can play "The Ripple Effect" in this stunning tuning.
"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."
Don Ross takes the "Ripple and Tap" technique from the last lesson and demonstrates how it can be used in double-time.
Don Ross teaches the first section of his hit tune, "Cup of Pop." Limber up your hands, because this will be a challenge!
Don Ross launches into the B section of his illustrious and highly difficult song, "Cup of Pop."
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.
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.
It's time to return to the original tuning for the song. Don discusses the E section in which this phenomon occurs.
"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.
Your ears can be one of your most valuable assets as a musician. In this series, Don is going to show you how to translate what you hear into what you play. This series is designed to build your confidence and equip you with the valuable skill of playing music by ear.
Don gives an overview of what to expect from this series.
Utilizing the visual element of a piano keyboard, and your ears (of course), Don walks through the intervals of the Major Scale.
As we begin to look at intervals, we start with the smallest classified interval, as semitone, and will look at 2nd and 3rd intervals as well.
Don continues to explore the concept of intervals, now looking at the 4th and 5th scale degrees.
In this lesson, we're going to look at the last two intervals in a Major Scale, the 6th and 7th.
In this lesson, Don teaches some helpful tools for memorizing the sound of the intervals.
Join Don as he breaks down the intervals that go into making a major or minor triad.
In this lesson, Don works on the skill of hearing the difference between a Major and Minor chord.
In this lesson, Don examines three chords that are perhaps the most ubiquitous chords you'll find throughout mainstream music. Learn to recognize these chord intervals by ear.
Continue strengthening your ear with Don with some listening exercises based around the I, IV and V chords in C Major.
Building off of what we've learned about the major chords in C Major, Don walks through all the diatonic chords and lays the groundwork for building progressions.
Using our chord knowledge, we will start working on recognizing chord changes by ear through a number of listening exercises.
Transposition, is a vital skill for any versatile musician. In this lesson, Don introduces the basics and demonstrates how it's done.
Don Ross began playing guitar virtually by accident.
There was always a lot of music around the house. Don’s dad is an operatically-trained singer. So, the Ross kids heard plenty of voice exercises around their Montreal home as well as classical music on the record player growing up (not to mention the occasional blast of the bagpipes when Don’s dad felt like waking up the neighbors with another musical skill he acquired growing up in Scotland!). Don was a very musical child, teaching himself some basic piano skills in his early years. But at the age of eight, when Don’s sister came home from boarding school with an old Stella acoustic guitar, he knew he had met his new best friend. Immediately recognizing the portability and “cool factor” of the guitar, Don and his older brother began teaching themselves tunes by the Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
By the age of ten, Don was playing less with a pick and more with his fingers. He was fascinated by the possibility of playing several lines at once: melody, middle voices, bass line. To achieve some of the musical ideas he had in mind, he started retuning the guitar to suit them, inventing new tunings that made things easier at first. But he also realized that he could expand the range of the instrument to make the low strings lower and the high strings higher. The possibilities seemed almost endless.
He began playing publicly (and for money) in his hometown of Montreal at the age of 15. Fortunately he looked old enough to drink by then and even played occasionally at some of the downtown pubs that featured live acoustic music! Around the same time he discovered the music of legendary Canadian singer/guitarist Bruce Cockburn. Don was amazed that such an insightful lyricist could also be a tremendous guitarist. The musical future seemed very bright indeed. He was inspired to write his first strong instrumental tunes for solo guitar around this time.
Don eventually studied Music at Toronto’s York University. Strangely enough, he didn’t focus on guitar but rather on composition, electronic music, and sound recording. Upon graduating, he had visions of being a composer of orchestral and electronic music or film scores..certainly not any delusions of playing solo guitar for a living. What changed his mind was seeing the success of musicians like Michael Hedges, Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett, player/composers who followed their musical intuitions wherever they led and who fell more into the category of “artist” rather than “guitarist” or “pianist.”
After graduation, Don decided that the best forum for what he did as a composer would be to perform his guitar music himself. In 1988, he won the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Competition. This earned him a fair amount of media attention back home in Canada, and within days he was scouted to record for Toronto-based independent record label Duke Street Records. He recorded his debut for the label, Bearing Straight, which was released in 1989. Two more recordings for the label followed, 1990’s Don Ross and 1993’s Three Hands. Don then signed with Columbia/Sony and recorded three more CDs for that label: This Dragon Won’t Sleep in 1995, Wintertide in 1996 and Loaded. Leather. Moonroof. in 1997. In the meantime, Don won the Fingerstyle competition in the USA for a second time in 1996. To this day, he is still the only player to have won the competition twice!
Signing with Narada Records in 1999, Don released his first completely solo-guitar CD, Passion Session. Recorded in a series of overnight sessions in Berlin’s Passionskirche (The Church of the Passion), the CD has gone on to top many of the “all time best acoustic guitar recordings” lists in publications like Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Some of the compositions on Passion Session, such as “Michael, Michael, Michael,” “Klimbim,” and “Tight Trite Night” have become standards in world guitar repertoire. Huron Street (2001) and Robot Monster (2003) followed, showcasing the depth of Don’s compositional history as well as his ongoing interest in electronic music, through collaborations with Berlin composer Christoph Bendel.
With the collapse of the conventional recording industry in the early 21st century, Don entered into a new venture with Milwaukee-based CandyRat Records and its founder, Rob Poland. The move to a completely internet-based model of releasing recordings resulted in the first ever CandyRat CD, 2005’s Music for Vacuuming. CandyRat has gone on to release recordings by dozens of international artists, primarily guitarists and songwriters. YouTube exposure has helped all of the CandyRat artists, and made an international star of Don’s good friend Andy McKee. Other recent projects Don has released in collaboration with CandyRat are Live in Your Head (2006), the thing that came from somewhere (2008, with Andy McKee), his all-vocal CD Any Colour (2009), the solo guitar albums Breakfast for Dogs! (2010) and Upright and Locked Position, as well as two performance DVDs: Don Ross Live and Live in Toronto (with Michael Manring and Andy McKee).
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.
Don grew up in Montreal, has lived at various times in Ontario, Nova Scotia, the USA and Quebec, and now resides in Toronto.
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