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Orville Johnson was born in 1953 in Edwardsville, Illinois and came up on the St. Louis, Missouri music scene, where he was exposed to and participated in a variety of blues, bluegrass and American roots music. He began singing in his Pentecostal church as a young boy, in rock bands in middle school, then took up the guitar at 17,with early influences from Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Chuck Berry. In the early 1970's, Orville spent several seasons p... (more)
Orville currently offers 127 guitar lessons at JamPlay, with 21 beginner lessons, 81 intermediate lessons, 10 song lessons and 15 entertainment videos.
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Discover the essentials with Orville Johnson by learning some of the most popular topics and techniques in beginner guitar.
Orville talks about some challenges you will likely face as a beginner and offers some advice that will help you overcome them.
Orville talks about flatpicks, how to hold them, and how to strum with them.
Orville Johnson introduces some basic fingerpicking patterns.
Orville Johnson explains why it is important to practice with a metronome. He also covers some practice strategies that will help minimize your frustration.
Orville dives into part 1 of his beginners' guide to practical theory. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of intervals.
Orville Johnson takes a look at scales in part 2 of his practical theory mini-series.
Orville Johnson jumps into part 3 of his practical theory mini-series. This lesson is about chords and their construction.
It's now time to tap back into the practical music theory portion of this series. Continuing on with part 4, Orville now discusses what modes are and how they are really just scales with Greek names.
Orville Johnson demonstrates a basic blues shuffle. This incredibly easy rhythm piece will have you sounding like a blues great in no time!
Orville Johnson demonstrates how simple chord progressions can be spruced up with bass runs. The classic song "Oh! Susanna" is used as an example.
Orville Johnson talks about the concept of voice leading. This concept will help you play chord progressions that flow better and sound more harmonious.
Orville Johnson teaches the basic major chords in this lesson. He also explains the best way to change from chord to chord, a challenge for many beginners.
Orville Johnson jumps into some light theory with a lesson on note values.
Orville Johnson takes a beginner's look at the CAGED system.
Orville Johnson introduces open D tuning and encourages exploration of its possibilities. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles.
This time, Orville Johnson introduces open G tuning. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles and sounds pretty without even fingering a chord.
This lesson is perfect for the beginner looking to develop dexterity and independence in the right hand fingers. Orville guides you step by step through basic rhythm concepts and fingerstyle exercises.
This lesson presents any beginner with the information needed to understand how a capo works. This tool enables you to change the key of a song without learning any new chord voicings.
Orville introduces basic techniques that can be used to play lead guitar. This lesson includes a primer on hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends and harmonics.
Orville dispenses a lifetime of accrued wisdom on the subject of practicing and learning. This lesson is only 16 minutes long, and it will not only change how you learn the guitar, but can also be applied to all facets of your life.
This lesson is all about creating different types of chords. This does steer the lesson towards music theory, but the information is invaluable and infinitely applicable.
The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.
In this lesson, Orville introduces one of the basic fingerstyle techniques - the alternating bass technique.
Orville Johnson teaches his interpretation of the piano-based song "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.
Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.
Orville Johnson teaches the fingerstyle blues song "Payday Blues."
Orville Johnson demonstrates how to play a walking bass line in conjunction with chordal accompaniment.
Orville Johnson teaches his take on a blues standard entitled "One Dime Blues."
Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel tune "I'll Fly Away" in the Piedmont style.
Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel song "Beulah Land."
Orville Johnson teaches "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" in the Piedmont style.
Orville teaches the a fingerstyle version of the classic blues number "How Long, How Long."
Orville Johnson teaches a common blues melody that has been used in several classic songs including "Louis Collins."
Orville Johnson reviews an original tune he calls "St. Johnny" in this lesson.
In this lesson, Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of Blind Blake with some fun tips and tricks.
In this Fingerstyle Blues lesson, Orville Johnson uses the 12 bar blues in C to talk about chord substitutions.
To demonstrate the relationship between gospel and blues, Orville Johnson teaches an arrangement of an old gospel tune called "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling".
Orville Johnson is back with another fantastic lesson on chord substitutions, this time in a minor key.
Orville Johnson demonstrates Mississippi John Hurt's style using an old spiritual song called "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder".
Orville Johnson explores the style of Skip James in open G tuning.
Orville Johnson takes another look at the style of Skip James, this time in cross-note (D Minor) tuning.
Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of blues artist Bo Carter in this lesson.
Orville Johnson walks through "Jelly Jelly," an original piano blues style song.
Welcome to part one of a two part lesson bundle where Orville breaks down Travis Picking, a fingerstyle pattern made famous by the great Merle Travis.
This is part two in Orville's Travis Picking demonstration. Orville now teaches how to increase speed with the picking hand. Then, he explains how to improve synchronization between the picking and fretting hands.
Welcome to part one of a two part mini series on the great guitarist known as Scrapper Blackwell! Orville tackles the unique techniques Scrapper utilized.
Now that Orville has introduced Scrapper's style, he covers some more difficult techniques that he used.
Orville Johnson delves into the style of Mississippi once more. This time around he takes a look at a song that is inspired by "Frankie and Albert".
Orville talks all about the style of Elizabeth Cotten, an acoustic fingerpicking legend. He uses a song called "I'm Going Downtown" to showcase her way of playing.
Orville dives back into the world of Elizabeth Cotten. This time around he teaches a newsong called "Sugar" and introduces other common musical themes she was known for.
Orville Johnson likes to use a technique called "Heavy-time bass" when playing the bass notes on his guitar. In this lesson he teaches you how adding this trick to your arsenal can make you a more versatile player.
Bottleneck slide guitar is a method of playing the guitar using a slide to mimic the sound of the human voice. The term slide is describes the sliding motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides, which were originally chopped off necks of glass bottles. Using a slide can expand the aural diversity of the guitar and give another avenue for expressiveness.
Orville Johnson covers the basics of the bottleneck slide. He talks about the history of slide guitar, choosing a slide, and proper technique.
Orville Johnson uses his version of the traditional blues song, "You've Got to Move," to demonstrate proper slide guitar technique.
Orville Johnson teaches the classic blues song "Trouble In Mind" using a slide.
Orville teaches a beautiful slide guitar arrangement of "Soul of a Man."
Orville Johnson teaches the catchy tune "Country Blues" in a slide guitar style.
Orville teaches the song "John Henry" using a slide.
Orville Johnson teaches a slide guitar version of the classic blues tune "Sitting on Top of the World."
"Guitar Rag" was one of the first blues songs ever recorded. Orville Johnson teaches a slide guitar version of this masterpiece.
Orville Johnson explores the slide guitar style of Tampa Red.
Orville Johnson takes a look at Mississippi Hill Country style in open G tuning.
Orville Johnson takes another look at Mississippi Hill Country style, this time in open F tuning.
Orville breaks down some of the more advanced bottleneck slide techniques such as string dampening and playing fretted notes behind the slide.
A sub-genre of country music which blends improvising with folk-like melodies. Pioneered by Bill Monroe in the 1930s in the "bluegrass" state. Learning to flatpick properly is absolutely crucial to the Bluegrass style.
Orville Johnson starts out his Bluegrass Flatpicking Series with a lesson on alternate picking, a technique that is absolutely essential to almost all guitar styles.
Orville teaches a classic song called "John Hardy" in the style of Mother Maybelle Carter.
Orville teaches the classic song "Bill Cheatum" in the bluegrass flatpicking style.
Orville Johnson explains how to play the classic song "Blackberry Blossom" in the bluegrass flatpicking style.
Orville Johnson shows how the classic bluegrass fiddle tune "Whiskey Before Breakfast" can be adapted to the guitar.
Orville Johnson teaches how "Billy in the Lowground," a classic fiddle tune, can be adapted to bluegrass style guitar.
Orville Johnson teaches the classic bluegrass song "Salt Creek."
Orville Johnson teaches the classic buegrass song "Midnight on the Water."
Orville Johnson teaches a solo guitar version of the classic song "The Wayfaring Stranger."
Orville Johnson demonstrates the classic bluegrass song "The Eighth of January."
Orville Johnson teaches "Over the Waterfall."
Orville Johnson demonstrates one of the most widely used bluegrass licks. This lick is named after "Lester Flatt" and simply called the "Lester Flatt G Lick."
Orville Johnson explains how to play the classic song "June Apple."
Orville Johnson teaches a bluegrass guitar version of the classic song "Soldier's Joy."
Orville Johnson teaches the "The Arkansas Traveler" in the key of D.
Orville Johnson teaches his version of "I Don't Love Nobody."
Orville Johnson covers the classic tune "Old Joe Clark."
Orville Johnson continues building your bluegrass fiddle tune repertoire with another great song called "The Red-Haired Boy."
Orville Johnson teaches "Black Mountain Rag" in the key of E.
In continuation of his previous lesson, Orville Johnson teaches "Black Mountain Rag" in the key of A.
Orville Johnson takes a look at the bluegrass standard "St. Anne's Reel".
In this lesson, Orville Johnson teaches a fantastic new tune called "Glory in the Meeting House".
In his latest Flatpicking Bluegrass lesson, Orville Johnson teaches a tune called "Under the Double Eagle".
Orville Johnson continues building your bluegrass flatpicking repertoire with another great tune called "Crossing The Big Sandy River".
Orville Johnson teaches another great bluegrass flatpicking tune called "When He Calls Me".
Orville Johnson teaches "Ragtime Annie," another bluegrass tune to add to your repertoire.
Orville Johnson continues to build your bluegrass fiddle tune repertoire with a fun tune called "Bonaparte's Retreat".
Orville Johnson takes a look at another fiddle tune called "Reuben's Train" in this lesson.
Orville Johnson takes a look at a fun song called "Turkey in the Straw" in this lesson.
In this lesson, Orville introduces an exercise called "The Mirror Technique." This is a technique that will improve the communication between your picking hand and fretting hand.
Welcome to yet another lesson on picking exercises! Orville demonstrates how to achieve double picking and triplet picking techniques that are common in all musical styles.
This traditional song offers the standard A and B parts and is another essential song to add to your repertoire of tunes that can be played with friends.
Orville teaches a blues melody in G major and also explains how to "comp" or accompany/compliment the melody with the Freddie Green rhythm.
Orville reopens the subject of lead techniques. He presents ideas on how to successfully build a solo and understand how to leave space to be most effective when playing with others.
Time to design a solo! Orville breaks down the techniques needed to build a successful solo while both explaining space and scale theory.
This lesson is all about harmonic structure. Orville uses the theory taught in the previous lesson to help you choose the correct notes when building a solo.
How about another classic bluegrass tune? "Bully of the Town" offers up a chance to use a capo and apply key change techniques.
Orville Johnson is back to his bluegrass flatpicking series. In this lesson, he discusses and teaches "The Beaumont Rag". This tune serves as a great picking exercise and is also a ton of fun to play!
Orville Johnson shows how to play a classic Bluegrass tune entitled "Cherokee Shuffle." It's fun, slightly challenging and sounds great.
Orville Johnson travels back in time to teach a classic song called "Banks of the Ohio." Though this tune features a rather sordid narrative lyrically, the music is still quick, upbeat and fun to play.
Orville Johnson teaches a select group of his favorite songs, including a few originals.
Orville Johnson teaches his version of the classic blues song "Come Back Baby."
Orville Johnson teaches a classic blues song entitled "Depot Blues." This lesson was inspired by the blues great Son House.
Orville Johnson teaches the traditional blues song "Railroad Bill."
Orville teaches the classic blues song "Bye Bye Baby Blues" by Little Hat Jones.
Orville Johnson teaches the classic "Spanish Fandango."
Orville Johnson teaches a classic song entitled "A Bicycle Built for Two." This song is also known as "Daisy Bell."
This fantastic tune entitled "Weave and Way" is a great song for beginners that want to take things to the next level. Alongside the simple chord progression, Orville also demonstrates 3-4 very different lead embellishment options that can be added on top to create a full flatpicking piece. This one is perfect to work on with a friend.
Orville presents this fiddle tune entitled "Texas Gales." This song lesson offers an opportunity to work on right and left hand synchronization as well as flatpicked melody lines.
Orville presents a great fiddle tune titled "Gold Rush." This is yet another great beginner song that offers a secondary lead option that, by the end, will leave you with a complete tune perfect for jamming with your buddies. Oh, and there is also a great explanation on how the term "Potatoes" fits right into the Bluegrass music community!
Orville will teach this classic tune titled "The Sailor's Hornpipe." This up beat song imitates the life of a sailor and the duties aboard the ship. This lesson provides the perfect opportunity for a beginner player to add a solid song to their repertoire.
Random licks and riffs contributed by the JamPlay instructors.
Orville performs the classic blues song "Come Back Baby" using a slide.
Orville Johnson performs the amazing blues song "Trouble In Mind" using a slide.
Orville Johnson performs his beautiful original tune, "Blueprint for the Blues."
Orville Johnson performs his catchy original song, "Rainy City Blues."
Orville performs the song "Spanish Fandango." Find the song lesson for this under "Phase 3."
Orville Johnson performs the classic blues tune, "Last Time Blues."
Orville Johnson performs the catchy blues tune, "Payday Blues." Learn this song in Phase 2 Fingerstyle Blues with Orville Johnson.
Orville Johnson demonstrates his version of the classic song "John Hardy."
Orville Jonson demonstrates his version of the perennial classic, "The Wayfaring Stranger."
Orville Johnson demonstrates his version of the classic Blues number "How Long Blues."
Orville Johnson plays his rendition of the classic gospel tune known as "I'll Fly Away."
Orville Johnson demonstrates an acoustic version of the classic tune "Midnight on the Water." This is absolutely beautiful!
Orville Johnson plays his rendition of the classic number "Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad."
Orville Johnson performs the classic tune "Guitar Rag."
Orville Johnson performs his version of the classic Blues tune "Sittin' On Top of the World."
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