Jake Willson: Practice Toolkit Q&A
Here at JTC we have a lot of amazing content and behind all that comes a lot of time and hard work. It can be easy to forget that your go-to Masterclass, 20 Licks pack or Jamtrack, is in fact a committed effort by a talented artist who wants to share their skills and knowledge. So it’s time to shed some more light on what goes on.
With our recent Practice Toolkit Masterclass, perhaps our biggest JTC pack yet, we thought we’d go behind the scenes and chat to its creator, Jake Willson.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?
It’s something I’m really interested in and passionate about (I actually really enjoy the quasi-meditative feeling that I get from a disciplined and structured practice session). People have always asked me about ‘how to set up a practice schedule?’ or ‘how should I work on my x, y and z?’ etc. As I started thinking about doing it, I really dug deep about why some people seem to be able to find the energy to practice and others don’t; I’ve been reading a lot lately about the way our decision making is affected and what motivates us to action, and I felt that a lot of that stuff really resonated with the challenges we face as practicing musicians.
For example, it can be so hard to just sit down with your guitar some days: why? Don’t we all love playing guitar? My feeling is that we need more of a ‘plan’ about what that time is about, and the incorporation of that plan into our daily lives may have other further ramifications to how we approach life and productivity in general.
It’s powerful stuff, I think.
Beyond that, my dream was to have a ‘one stop shop’ for (almost) everything a lead guitarist would want to use for practice, and by having that resource available it would cut down on some of the time spent wasted thinking about ‘what should I practice?’
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player. it’s all there and ready to go. Honestly, I’ll be using this all the time!
Q: It’s a big one…so how long did it take?
Absolutely ages. ‘201' is a big number! It’s the biggest one of these I’ve ever done and it was quite a strain on my computer (time to upgrade, I think)!! Coming up with the first few exercises was relatively straightforward (I didn’t want people to spend too much time learning thenew material, so they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to get to grips with) but after a while I needed to find ways to increase variety and make sure there was something for all levels in there. I started working on it when I got back from NAMM (early February, 2019) and then continued to work on filming each exercise over the next two months (it was annoying because my camera was ‘in place’ so I couldn’t use it for other things!). I could have done it quicker, but I was doing what I could between shows and other commitments etc.
Q: What’s your favourite part of it?
I have a bit of a soft spot for the booklet. I enjoy writing and I think that there’s some stuff in there that some people might really need to read. It’s a fairly bold piece of writing because it’s about what I think rather than it being a generic textbook for everyone, and that was quite freeing. I think a certain something (a ‘directness’, perhaps?) is lost when people attempt to write ‘definitively’ about subjects, and I’d prefer to be able to collate the experiences of others (almost as though I were reading the various parts of a giant conversation).
Q: What’s the main thing you want people to take away from it?
That structure is important, and that you can still be creative in your practice sessions. I also think just having the exercises in TAB form, on the page is valuable resource. Just open at any page if you don’t know what you should be doing on any given practice session (and that’s the next 20 minutes taken care of)!
Q: Any plans for a future JTC release?
Well, I think this is my [counts on fingers] 14th product with JTC Guitar! And the last two have been enormous (they’re such huge subjects and I’d been putting them off!). At the moment, I’m thinking of doing something based on harmonic devices, or maybe something about ‘outside’ playing, but I’ll happily listen to what the community is up for!