Riffs with Mark

Live Guitar Course: Learn Riffs from Scales

Are you looking to add some cool, signature riffs to your playing? Do you have a few under your fingers that you like, but don't know when or how to use? Look no further than Riffs with Mark. Each week in this eight week workshop, Mark will teach a scale and a riff derived from it. He'll then dissect how to use that riff in the broader context of music. The second phase of the course will focus on riffs over specific chords and chord progressions. There will be an emphasis of note choice rather than relying solely on a single scale to improvise over the entire song or phrase. This is a course geared toward electric guitar, but most riffs can also be played acoustically.

Riffs with Mark

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Riffs with Mark Guitar Course

About our Live Courses

We have upgraded, revamped, and organized in-studio, live weekly workshops broadcasted in 1080p. These focused, task-based workshops include full tablature, interactivity with the instruction, and even homework each week.

Guided Practice

Download guided practice videos to accompany your practice routine. Keep them for life regardless of your membership status. Just a simple, effective and purpose-driven way to learn the material.

Filmed in 4k

In 2016 and 2017, we completely re-engineered our recording studio with top of the line gear, including a full suite of 4k cameras complimented by a new audio outfit. The result is beautiful live streams!

Tabs & Tracks

Each live course is equipped with full tablature and even backing tracks. Our live lessons are focused, planned, and even provide homework on how to improve and look forward to the next week.

Interact Live

Our staff fields questions from the audience throughout each section, and opens for questions throughout each course. You also have the ability to call in live with your own video stream!

Our live platform has been a major focus over the past 18 months, and we are very excited to fully unleash it's capability! Attend any of these courses with a full JamPlay subscription and get the benefit of full interaction with our instructors in a focused, planned course. We even have the ability to field your questions with live video call in!

Full Course Schedule

And of course, we keep everything, so if you miss a week you can always watch our archive of live courses. Tabs, backing tracks, and a full course PDF are provided for students, along with homework for each week! Interact with other students along with the teacher and get the instruction you need to advance your playing.

Date Topic

Week 1

05/29/2020 at 3pm

Major Pentatonic

Mark will start with a brief introduction to the course, addressing topics like -what are riffs? -what is improvisation? Mark will then get into an overview of the major pentatonic and blues scales and dive into some riffs, different places they are found on the fingerboard and how they can be applied in your solos.

Week 2

06/05/2020 at 3pm

Minor Pentatonic / Blues Scale

Mark will briefly go over the theory behind the minor Pentatonic and blues scales and then teach riffs to use in your improvisation.

Week 3

06/12/2020 at 3pm

Riff Transposition and Finding the Key

This lesson will cover how to find the key of a song by using your ear and how to transpose your riffs and scale shapes so that you can improvise over it.

Week 4

06/19/2020 at 3pm

Borrowing From the Mixolydian Mode

Don't get scared off by the name! The Mixolydian is just like the Major scale but with a flat 7. In practice, we will still base our improvisation off of the Major Pentatonic scale but add in a flat 7 to our riffs.

Week 5

06/26/2020 at 3pm

Borrowing From the Dorian Mode

The Dorian Mode can be thought of as a simple alteration to the natural minor scale; it has a raised 6th. In our riffs, we will be adding a raised 6th to the minor pentatonic scale.

Week 6

07/10/2020 at 3pm

Dominant 7 Arpeggios

This week we shift to exploring riffs based around arpeggios instead of scales. An arpeggio is a broken chord; each of the notes played separately. Mark will cover the concept of "targeting" chord tones, particularly over dominant 7th chords (i.e. G7, D7, etc.). The riffs for this lesson will likely apply best to the jazz or country idioms.

Week 7

07/17/2020 at 3pm

Soloing Over the 12 Bar Blues

The 12 bar blues functions as a great vehicle for diving deeper into improvisation. Mark will discuss the best scales, arpeggios and target tones over different sections of the 12 bar form. This lesson may provide a couple of riffs but will be more conceptual than the others.

Week 8

07/24/2020 at 3pm

Just Riffs

Join Mark in learning riffs that explore a variety of the concepts covered in the previous lessons, where they lie in the scale and how to use them in your improvisation!

Week 9

07/31/2020 at 3pm

Note Choice and Voice Leading

Mark will go over a brief introduction to the concept of 'note choice' and voice leading. Then we will look at riffs over the chords I, IV and V of a Major Key (i.e. G, C and D).

Week 10

08/07/2020 at 3pm

Adding More Chords

Let’s bring in a couple more chords! This week, Mark will explore riffs over the vi and ii chords of a Major key. In the key of G Major this would be Em and Am respectively.

Week 11

08/14/2020 at 3pm

All Chords in a Major Key

Get ready to think on your feet! This week, Mark will use the (slightly altered) chord progression of Johann Pachellbel’s Canon in D to teach soloing over each chord in a Major key.

Week 12

08/21/2020 at 3pm

bVII in a Major Key

Sweet Home Alabama and Back in Black both implement the very interesting bVII chord in a Major key. Let’s take a look!

Week 13

08/28/2020 at 3pm

Adding Extensions

We’ve talked a little bit about adding 7ths to your chords...what about 9ths!? Let’s put this into practice! This lesson will dive pretty deep into stacking triads and different ways of looking at chord structure

Week 14

09/04/2020 at 4pm

Note Choice in a Minor Key

Alright, enough of those happy-sounding chord progressions! What chords often appear from the natural minor scale?

Week 15

09/11/2020 at 3pm

IV in a Minor Key

The major IV chord is a common alteration to see in a minor key. Let’s look at borrowing a note from the Dorian Mode to solo over it

Week 16

09/18/2020 at 3pm


Sometimes dubbed the “Jimi Hendrix” or “Purple Haze” Chord Progression. We’ll examine some interesting ways to approach this strange but relatively common sequence.

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