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  1. #1

    Someone who has made it to the end of Leavitt's method?

    Hello, not sure if this is the right place for this or not.

    So yeah right now I'm slowly working my way through Leavitt's Modern Method with a teacher. Right now I'm about 60% through Vol. 1.

    We started off working through Mel Bay's Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, so I went into Leavitt's method with a decent note reading knowledge to begin with. We've also been supplementing weekly practice with assignments out of fake books, blues scales, less 'academic' stuff than is found in the Leavitt books. I've been taking lessons for about 10 months, and I'm happy with my progress thus far.

    Anyways I guess my question is for people who have actually worked their way through all three volumes of Leavitt. I don't want to look ahead too much, but I'm just wondering what I can expect my skill level to be if I finish these books? As in, where will I be as a player? I know I have a long way to go, I trust my teacher and I'm enjoying the journey but I'm just curious to hear from folks with personal experience.


  2. #2
    Soo does this mean no one has made it to the end?

  3. #3
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    I went to the end of book one only. Good for sight reading, scale forms, learning new chord fingerings, and especially good for picking technique (this book is intended for everything to be played with a pick). This book does not address improvisation. So, it's good for technique and reading which is important, but not for improvisation.

    There's a thread on this forum where other forum members and I recorded videos of every exercise in the book. I really recommend recording every exercise in the book and self-evaluate the recordings. That will really help accelerate the learning process.

    An example of my recordings of the exercises, chords for the first half, single notes for the second half... perhaps an intermediate level? Or, a beginner level? It's hard to say as there is no standardized scale.

    Last edited by fep; 08-03-2015 at 02:59 PM.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    I went to the end of book one only. Good for sight reading, scale forms, learning new chord fingerings, and especially good for picking technique (this book is intended for everything to be played with a pick). This book does not address improvisation. So, it's good for technique and reading which is important, but not for improvisation.

    There's a thread on this forum where other forum members and I recorded videos of every exercise in the book. I really recommend recording every exercise in the book and self-evaluate the recordings. That will really help accelerate the learning process.

    An example of my recordings of the exercises, chords for the first half, single notes for the second half... perhaps an intermediate level? Or, a beginner level? It's hard to say as there is no standardized scale.


    Thanks for the reply! I think I've come across a couple of your recordings on the Leavitt books from Youtube a few weeks ago. You play very well.

  5. #5
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    You will know major in twelve positions; jazz and harmonic minor in nine positions, and diminished scales in three plus fingerings. Multiple positions for arpeggios. You will know how to play harmonized scales. You'll be introduced to what is now called chord scale theory. There are some neat sophisticated chord progressions with inner moving voices. There are also many rhythm guitar patterns presented.

    In Volume 3, there are some really valuable pages about moving from one position to another.

    If you work your way through Volume 3 in conjunction with the other material being covered by your teacher, you will be playing at a very high level.

  6. #6
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    Leavitt's books are great. Use all of them!

    But - they were written in the 1960s. I would pay attention to Berklee's 8 levels if you can find them (1 for each semester). They teach similar material but in a slightly different sequence. You are wise to include tunes, improv, chord studies, etc.

    Berklee has other guitar books that cover other topics - they keep adding excellent books. Finally, look at their course line up at the web site. Check out the "lab" classes to see what they teach their students these days.

  7. #7
    It's cool that you're doing it with a teacher. Out of curiosity, has your teacher worked through all 3, and/or is he/she a Berklee grad and used it in school?

    Anyway, Book 2 is a bit of a departure from book 1 in it's methodology and seems to be a point at which those doing self-study through the books tend to get stuck or frustrated. I'd be interested in hearing someone's take who has experience with lessons in it or teaching through it.

    To your original question: more than "What will I be able to play?", I think it'd be more about what you'll know... about the fretboard, chord voicings, systematic fingering issues and chord-scale theory. I've worked through about 2.5. Always get distracted by other endeavors or tunes. I've always been really curious about the chord-melody scale studies over different chord types found in book 3. Someday, I guess.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
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    I studied with Bill Leavitt as he was finishing the 2nd and 3rd volumes, and some of my "homework" included taking the manuscripts and proofreading them, as well as discussing the fingering choices and philosophy behind the organization of the Method. Leavitt was not a jazz guitarist, he was a plectrum master, a great reader and arranger on the guitar, and a master theoretician. His favorites were Johnny Smith and George van Eps, along with the old-school chord maestros like Eddie Lang and Dick McDonough. What the method will give you is unfortunately not that much in demand any more: an ability to accompany in many styles, play in pit orchestras, arrange solo pieces quickly, improvise knowledgeably, have a clean and forceful technique with excellent coordination between the hands, and to treat the guitar as a small orchestra, much like a classical player. If mastery of the archtop plectrum guitar is your goal, Leavitt is the guide. If post-bop electric jazz guitar is your aim, Leavitt will get you very close in terms of technique, but more input will be needed for advanced harmonic concepts. In fact, Mick Goodrick, certainly one of the most harmonically advanced jazzers, really respected and loved Leavitt, and is of the opinion that the Method is a supreme foundational work.

  9. #9
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    I'd suggest picking up the Mickey Baker books as a "practical" method to accompany Leavitt now that you have a solid foundation.

  10. #10
    Major scale in twelve positions- interesting, only seven notes in major scale.....

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    I studied with Bill Leavitt as he was finishing the 2nd and 3rd volumes, and some of my "homework" included taking the manuscripts and proofreading them, as well as discussing the fingering choices and philosophy behind the organization of the Method. Leavitt was not a jazz guitarist, he was a plectrum master, a great reader and arranger on the guitar, and a master theoretician. His favorites were Johnny Smith and George van Eps, along with the old-school chord maestros like Eddie Lang and Dick McDonough. What the method will give you is unfortunately not that much in demand any more: an ability to accompany in many styles, play in pit orchestras, arrange solo pieces quickly, improvise knowledgeably, have a clean and forceful technique with excellent coordination between the hands, and to treat the guitar as a small orchestra, much like a classical player. If mastery of the archtop plectrum guitar is your goal, Leavitt is the guide. If post-bop electric jazz guitar is your aim, Leavitt will get you very close in terms of technique, but more input will be needed for advanced harmonic concepts. In fact, Mick Goodrick, certainly one of the most harmonically advanced jazzers, really respected and loved Leavitt, and is of the opinion that the Method is a supreme foundational work.
    Wow. That's cool, Ron. Sounds like you probably already had things mostly together with your playing/reading when you started proofreading. I was wondering if you could give some insight into the way book 2 (and 3) were used at Berklee for students who were just learning or "finishing out" the fretboard/reading etc. Honestly, I'd love to hear any additional anecdotes you can think of, and are willing to share, related to Leavitt and the time when he was writing these books.

    ...whiny post from 2010 below... :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    I've been looking at another sight reading thread, and I always think about Leavitt's Reading Studies books. I got book 1 several years before I ever purchased his Modern Method for Guitar. I found the Reading Studies to be really helpful when I used them.

    A few years later, after hearing about how great they were for sight reading, I got the Modern Method books. I worked about halfway through book 2 where I got really frustrated. After very gradually working through studies in positions 1-4 in book 1, book 2 goes straight into multiple position studies covering 12 frets. The focus shifted from multiple key centers in one position to multiple positions in one key center at a time (about 5 positions per key-center). For me this made it really hard to focus on learning the actual note names in each position.

    A big problem was trying to figure out what the purpose of these sections was. Am I supposed to be thinking letter names and trying to memorize them as I play them? I found that because I was already familiar with the scales, my fingers/ears just kind of took over, and it was difficult to think about really "locking in" note names in position, especially with the eighth note runs which are so prevalent in these exercises.

    I never found this to be a problem in the Reading Studies books because they're geared toward avoiding patterns. There seemed to be a real kinesthetic connection to where "Bb" is in a given position because you work through that position in all 12 keys before moving to another.

    At some point I thought that the exercises were just notated scale patterns to learn, but the other reading material such as chord etudes changed as well with the assumption that you could now read these higher positions. I always get the feeling that maybe I should just finish out the Reading Studies books before even messing with this stuff.

    At Berklee, are the Reading Studies books an integral part of working through the Modern Method books? If not, how do you learn to really read from them, when they are so pattern based, if your ears/fingers already know the patterns? For you guys who came through Berklee, how did you use this book in classes?

  12. #12
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    I worked through all three volumes with a teacher back in the 80's. I agree with most of what has been already said above. The books are a great resource for building technique and are extremely thorough but they don't address soloing concepts very deeply. That is not a slight against the books, it's just not what they were designed for.

  13. #13
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    Well, again, the idea behind the books was to master the plectrum guitar as used at that time (60s-70s). Learning the names of the notes in high positions merely takes slowing down, which is always a good idea anyway. Practicing mistakes or practicing without mindfulness is not only a waste of time, but will prevent you from getting your technique to the level it can reach. At the time of Bill's writing these books (which would have been in the late 50s to early 60s, as he was stationed on the Arctic Circle in a radar shack with little to do but practice and write), the pro guitarist was busy doing studio work, pit work with either Broadway-style shows or backing big-name singers, or playing in lounges doing swing-style dance music or light jazz, along with big band gigs. The Method addresses all of the requirements for this kind of work, which is now mostly gone.

    As far as learning notes above the staff and above the 5th fret, Bill thought that learning where all the As were, then all the Bs, etc., was as good a method as any, and could be done, literally, in one week.

    Addressing the patterns question, the Reading Studies books actually utilize the patterns you would have found in many of the charts you'd see on the bandstand or in the studio. For jazz, the Bugs Bower Rhythmic studies were recommended, for syncopation, etc. Reading music, like reading words, is pattern recognition, after all.

    If it is important for you to be able to read and perform more random or aleatory music, perhaps Metheny's or Lage's studies would be more useful. All of the classical studies for violin, clarinet, etc., are useful, but pattern-oriented as well.

  14. #14
    Thanks, Ron.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    It's cool that you're doing it with a teacher. Out of curiosity, has your teacher worked through all 3, and/or is he/she a Berklee grad and used it in school?

    Anyway, Book 2 is a bit of a departure from book 1 in it's methodology and seems to be a point at which those doing self-study through the books tend to get stuck or frustrated. I'd be interested in hearing someone's take who has experience with lessons in it or teaching through it.

    To your original question: more than "What will I be able to play?", I think it'd be more about what you'll know... about the fretboard, chord voicings, systematic fingering issues and chord-scale theory. I've worked through about 2.5. Always get distracted by other endeavors or tunes. I've always been really curious about the chord-melody scale studies over different chord types found in book 3. Someday, I guess.

    Good luck!
    Sorry, it's been a few days since I checked this thread.

    Thanks for your reply. My teacher attended Berklee back in the 60's actually, and studied with Bill Leavitt when he taught there. We don't progress in a completely linear fashion - one week I might just be assigned to work on the chord forms, another week might include more scale work, string skipping etudes, etc. But overall I am progressing through it slowly but surely. And like I said, some weeks I work on something completely different to keep things fresh.

    I'm definitely enjoying it so far and I can't wait to continue. I really feel like I'm learning the fretboard little by little.
    Last edited by ajbusa; 08-10-2015 at 09:28 AM.

  16. #16
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    Yes, there is no good reason to progress in a linear fashion after Book 1, since most of us tend to enjoy particular approaches. And, as Leavitt told me more than once, practicing is accumulative: if you practice scales, your arpeggios will also improve, etc.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    Yes, there is no good reason to progress in a linear fashion after Book 1, since most of us tend to enjoy particular approaches. And, as Leavitt told me more than once, practicing is accumulative: if you practice scales, your arpeggios will also improve, etc.

    Yeah that definitely makes sense. Thanks for your advice. Are there any other method books you'd recommend checking out?

  18. #18
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    I don't have many recommendations, really, it depends on what style you're looking to develop. I can recommend anything by Goodrick for advancing your harmonic knowledge and courage., and the older Berklee publications from Leavitt's tenure, such as Classical studies for Plectrum Guitar, the Sight-reading volumes, etc. Basically, if you are looking to play jazz in the horn style, then horn books will give you great material; clarinet studies, transcriptions by Brecker, etc. If you are looking to go in the direction of harmonic, chordal playing, then the era you like is an important consideration. For swing style, can't beat Van Eps; for more modern chordal style, Ted Greene and Goodrick.

    For pure chops, the old Kreutzer Etudes arranged by Reuss are really good.

  19. #19
    i've been through all 3 books. Not sure there was anything quantifiable that I learned from them taken in isolation. I think any music book is like that. You cannot take it literally . You have to assume the student is doing their own work and transcribing, jamming, learning tunes, pushing themselves harmonically with theory, etc.

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