Learn, Practice, Play is Paul Davids beginner guitar course and I bought the course, played through it, talked to others who have taken the course, and along with my own opinion based on playing through other beginner guitar courses, wrote this review.
Below is a Table of Contents of what is provided within this article:
- Introduction to who Paul Davids is
- Who the course is suitable for
- How much it costs
- Course Structure Overview (with a brief review on each module),
- What I liked
- What I thought could be improved
- What others are saying
- Is Learn, Practice, Play worth it?
So if you are considering purchasing it or want to find out a little more from someone who has played through it then please read on and watch my videos to get an insight into what you learn.
Before we start, please note that this is an entirely independent review, it is my genuine opinion from playing through the course, and is in no way affiliated with Paul Davids.
Watch the video to see inside the course.
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Who is Paul Davids?
If you are unfamiliar with Paul Davids, he is a guitar player with over two decades of guitar playing, songwriting, and producing experience.
He has a music degree in guitar with a minor in teaching from the Rotterdam Conservatory and for 11 years taught hundreds of students at all different skill levels to play guitar.
What most people know him for though is his YouTube Channel and it is easy to see why once you watch a few of his videos.
Paul has an interesting and engaging way of delivering guitar-related content. He is no doubt a highly skilled guitar player but his production levels are also extremely high. His knowledge of music production clearly helps him here but his video shooting and editing skills are at the same level, which often isn’t the case with guitar teachers on YouTube.
The combination of this, plus his relaxed, casual yet knowledgeable style is a winning recipe that is clearly appreciated by many. At the time of writing this, he has close to 2 million subscribers.
He has put time and effort into YouTube and is a growing guitar success story and rightfully so.
However, he also has a beginner guitar course called Learn, Practice, Play (click here to go to the signup page, and learn more).
As a beginner guitar player myself and one who has completed Justin Guitar’s Beginner Course, I was interested to find out more, particularly when the cost of the course is much higher than those being offered by other guitar teachers on YouTube.
Before we discuss price lets first cover who this course is suitable for as I have received a number of questions from people wanting to know if it was for them.
Who Is Learn, Practice, Play Suitable For?
Learn, Practice, Play by Paul Davids is best suited for those who are learning on an acoustic guitar, have a little experience, and are keen to get some structure to their learning.
On the sales/landing page for the course, the students providing feedback all have some experience playing guitar before starting it. The way Paul talks about the course is that it is ideal for those who are ‘frustrated with their progress’ so immediately this suggests that it is aimed at those who already have a little experience and know some of the fundamentals.
If you are a complete beginner and feel uncomfortable with a guitar in your hand then I would say this course isn’t the best course for you. There just isn’t enough detail for you, but more on that later where I cover where I think the course could be improved.
From my experience, if you are a complete beginner then Justin Guitar’s Beginner course would be more suited. It covers the fundamentals in a much slower and more detailed approach and it is 100% free. Or alternatively, you could start with one of the other courses I talk about here Best Free Beginner Guitar Courses Online.
However, if you just have a little experience and know-how to hold a guitar and perhaps strum a few open chords and have tried a few simple solos or one string guitar songs then this course would be a great place to start.
The course is mainly geared towards those learning on Acoustic Guitar with modules focused on fingerpicking for example but there is no reason why you couldn’t use an electric guitar.
That being said, I played through the course on my electric guitar to start with but when I got to Module 4 I switched to my acoustic. I feel more comfortable fingerpicking on an acoustic and think it sounds better as do many others. So if you only have an electric or want to concentrate on just playing electric and feel this way then it might not be the course for you.
How Much Does Learn, Practice, Play Cost ?
The cost of this course is $199 USD for lifetime access at the time of writing this article with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find the course isn’t for you.
Compared to other beginner guitar courses available online, the cost is high, a premium compared to most.
Paul explains it this way;
If you wanted to learn everything inside Learn, Practice, Play as a private, 1-on-1 student, the price tag would easily surpass $1,000… And I’ve seen music school courses that charge $1,500 or more for online programs with similar material. But I want to make Learn, Practice, Play more affordable.learnpracticeplay.com
This is entirely true and I generally think online guitar lessons should cost more given the time, dedication, and learning of the instrument that many of the guitar teachers have dedicated their lives to.
However, if you are offering lessons online and are best known as a YouTuber then you are competing in that space not in the 1 to 1 tuition space or a music school space so this means you have to set yourself apart if you wish to charge a premium.
So is the course worth it?
The only way to find this out is to get into the trenches, look at the detail and see what you get.
Don’t want to look at the detail? Then skip to the end by clicking here where I wrap up my findings.
Course Structure + What You Get
Learn, Practice, Play is split into 7 main modules with a total of 55 lessons.
When you first start you are only able to open and play Module 1. Every two weeks thereafter a new module opens so the aim is to complete the course in 14 weeks but If you want to jump ahead you can email the team and they will unlock further modules.
This helps you keep moving at a decent pace but also prevents you from getting bored or frustrated so that you can move on to something else. As Paul describes in his videos, you are paying for lifetime access, and the important thing when learning is to stay motivated so move on if you need to as you can always revisit a lesson.
Within each module you get the following:
- Video explanation and playthrough of the lesson
- Downloadable Module Workbook PDF’s with TAB
- Downloadable backing track
- Synthesized recordings that you can play along with and show in time notation and TAB.
- Advanced exercises (not in all lessons)
What you also get being on the course:
- Access to the Facebook group – other members share their experience and talk about Paul’s lessons. From my experience, this was a very supportive group and it was great to see people progress on the course.
- Automated emails from Paul during your learning to offer encouragement.
Getting Started Module
Paul’s introductory videos are succinct and cover some important areas that will help you get the most from the course as well as provide you with the tools to help understand the exercises that will be coming up in the modules ahead and get used to having a guitar in your hands.
For example, understanding how to read chord diagrams and reading tabs is fundamental for understanding and playing through the lesson exercises in each module. Also learning the correct posture and good hand position from the beginning are crucial to getting off on the right foot (or hand in this case!) so you don’t have to revisit bad habits later in your learning.
There is no ‘fluff’ in this module but I do feel it could be fleshed out a little more for the complete beginner who often just feels uncomfortable holding a guitar. Some of this is addressed at the end of Module 1 where Pauls answers common questions which is great but it might be better placed in this getting started module with a recap after module 1 to keep it fresh in people’s minds.
I say this as a beginner who has gone through the difficult early stages of learning guitar and having this is essential in my opinion. Revisiting topics you struggle with and constant reminders help you create and build upon good habits. Having a guitar teacher recognize this helps ‘hold the hand’ of those learning.
Below I give a brief overview of the modules and my experience of playing through them. I have also shared some of my playthroughs on these modules but if you would like to see the whole playlist then you can get access to that on my YouTube channel here.
- Lesson 1 – Melody: The Magical Four Notes
- Lesson 2 – Chords: Em and Asus2
- Lesson 3 – Scale: Em Pentatonic
- Lesson 4 – Theory: The Notes
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Am and C; and Em, C, G and D
Overall this was an excellent first module and introduced the format of how Paul teaches you to play guitar.
He certainly wastes no time in getting you playing which is exactly what I wanted when first learning.
You are provided with a mix of content that includes a melody with individual notes, some open chords, a pentatonic scale, and you get to play with a backing track.
It was refreshing to start playing a course like this where obvious attention has been paid to getting the right mix to keep the player interested whilst introducing topics that can really help develop your playing right from the get-go.
You don’t get this mix in the Justin Guitar Beginner course for example and it was so much fun to play with a backing track.
A very encouraging and fun first module.
- Lesson 1 – Scales: Major Scales
- Lesson 2 – Melody: Mediterranean I
- Lesson 3 – Chords: Am, G, F, E
- Lesson 4 – Scale: Am Pentatonic
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Twelve Bar Blues
- Lesson 6 – Solo: The Blues
In this module, you first learn the C Major scale, which is one that I never got to learn whilst on the Justin Guitar Beginner Course.
You are also introduced to the Mediterranean melody which is a common melody throughout some of the other modules also. In the later modules you get to develop it with new techniques so you see a natural evolving of you guitar ability.
This is not too dissimilar to what you would get if you started to learn a popular song that has been made easy by a guitar teacher on YouTube then as you increase in your ability you tackle the song in full.
While I like this natural evolving through learning and practice, the melody itself isn’t one that really captured my interest.
The Am pentatonic scale is a good first scale to learn as it is easyish on the fingers, still, a stretch when you start though, and the 12 Bar Blues was really fun along with the solo you get to do.
- Lesson 1 – Melody: Wondrous Open Strings
- Lesson 2 – Chords: Power Chords
- Lesson 3 – Scale: Blues Scale in E Minor
- Lesson 4 – Theory: Intervals
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Major Chord Progression
I really enjoyed this module and it included the introduction of a new melody which was fun to do.
Paul really mixes up the content and I like how he places emphasis on things that you learn as you go. For example, when learning the melody he stresses the importance of alternate picking. The reason why he doesn’t go in to, but you don’t need to know that at this stage.
All I would say is that this will greatly help you in the future when you need to speed up learning a song or be more efficient in your playing so it is a great habit to get in to.
You get to learn power chords in this module and I have struggled with these before but I think that was mainly when I was playing on an acoustic as on an electric it seems a lot easier or more forgiving, either way, it was fun.
I ended up recording the power chords and then playing the melody over the top. This is not something that Paul said to do I just thought it would be fun and it turned out to be great. It would have been great if Paul had suggested doing this if you had the gear.
The encouragement to record yourself and giving you exercises to do built into the course would be something I would be really keen to see in a guitar course online.
Many of us learning online are ‘bedroom guitar players’ and we don’t ever move beyond or intend to which is fine. So it would be nice to see the encouragement of beginners to record themselves with backing tracks made by themselves. Effectively creating layers as you go and finally creating cool music to be proud of and share if you want to.
If Paul ever reads this, then please include this in future incarnations of the course! it would be a game-changer in my opinion.
- Lesson 1 – Melody: Andantino
- Lesson 2 – Melody: To the Country
- Lesson 3 – Theory: Chords
- Lesson 4 – Chords: Sus2, Sus4
- Lesson 5 – Scale: C Major Scale (No Open Strings)
- Lesson 6 – Chords: D, Cadd9, G
No course can be for everyone and I am not a fan of country music but even I enjoyed the country licks that you get to learn in this module.
The melody you get to learn sounds nice and while not really my cup of tea when it comes to guitar music was interesting for a while. I started to find the melodies you learn on this a little tedious at this stage and was craving some music that I know and love so probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind to push on through and learn module 4.
If you read the comments below from others then I wasn’t unusual in feeling this way either and I think it is definitely where the course could be improved in the future. I get that it is hard to satisfy everyone’s interest but I just feel the melodies arent as engaging as learning a popular song.
That said the mix of the module meant you weren’t on it for long and go to move on to some new open chords and some cool chord progressions. Overall the module was ok but didn’t light my fire as much as the first three.
- Lesson 1 – Melody: Mediterranean II
- Lesson 2 – Chords: Am7, Fadd9 and C; and Em7, G and Dsus4
- Lesson 3 – Strumming: Ghost Strum
- Lesson 4 – Scale: A Minor
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Blues in E
- Lesson 6 – Solo: Blues Improvisation
So I haven’t recorded any more of my modules on YouTube out of respect for Paul and his course. I don’t want to give everything away but by now having recorded the first four modules you will have got to see a really good insight into what the course is like.
Module 5 is a continuation of this and now you start to develop the melody that you learned back in Module 2. This time you get to work on a fingerpicking arrangement which provides depth and helps it sound like more than one guitar player is playing.
There are some cool chord alternatives you get to learn which can help ‘spice’ up the basic open chords that you have already learned and there is the ‘Ghost Strum’ which is basically where you keep you strumming up moving up or down but you don’t hit the strings.
You finish the module with some blues and I always appreciate this even if my blues shuffle leaves something to be desired. It has improved slowly though and the last lesson of the module encourages you to use the Em pentatonic scale that you learned back in Module 1 to start improvising over a backing track that Paul has provided.
He gives you a few phrases to get you started which I enjoyed playing and then following that I looked up some Em pentatonic licks on YouTube and stole a few to get playing with whilst trying to mix in my own. It was a lot fun, not all that successful but fun nonetheless. I also felt Paul could have given us a few more examples/phrases we could have used here and then we could mix them up and form our own.
- Lesson 1 – Chords: Slash Chords and Walking Bass
- Lesson 2 – Strumming: Palm Muting II
- Lesson 3 – Theory: The Chords in a Key
- Lesson 4 – Melody and Chords: Mediterranean III
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Advanced Fingerpicking Patterns
- Lesson 6 – Riffs: Levels I and II
Module 6 starts off with slash chords where you are modifying major chords and it creates some interesting sounding chords. Along with this you learn a walking bass line from C to G. You cant fingerpick this or flat pick, I chose to flat pick and try and improve my alternate picking as I like to do that wherever I can.
Then you get into some barre chords mixed with Palm Muting. I have always found palm muting difficult and even less consistent for me than barre chords but that aside it was quite a good exercise to get practicing again and will help you develop.
A bit of theory is then mixed in where you learn the chords in the G Major scale and can start to appreciate how all the chords in the key sound really good together.
You then play the Mediterranean melody again but this time you are building in chords to fill out the sound. The is the evolving that I talked about earlier and whilst it is good to build upon what you know I just felt that I started to loose interest when covering what felt like old ground.
Following this, you learn some additional fingerpicking patterns and finally some riffs which for me were interesting and were starting to get into the type of music I was keen to be playing.
- Lesson 1 – Solos: Advanced Licks
- Lesson 2 – Strumming: Dynamic Strumming
- Lesson 3 – Chords: Power Chords II
- Lesson 4 – Theory: How to Play Along With a Song
- Lesson 5 – Chords: Barre Chords, Levels I, II and III
- Bonus Lesson – Our Last Melody
- What Next?
We now enter the final module of the course and the licks start to step up a little and include sliding, pull-offs, and hammer-ons along with double stops, bends, and triplets.]
You start to look at dynamics in your strumming to so you can start to make everything sound a little more interesting. One of which sounds very much like Green Day’s Time of Your Life.
Then we move into Power Chords again with a riff that Paul has put together along with a backing track he has produced which you can play along with. Playing with backing tracks is one of my favorite things about this course and this lesson is no different.
Paul then provides advice on how to play along with most songs if you can work out the first or last of the chord of a song. Once you know that you can work out the scale and use chords within that scale to play along. A good theory lesson to get you thinking.
Now he hits us with barre chords which I think is a good idea to have in the last module as so often barre chords are a stumbling block and this wouldn’t have been enjoyable if they were in the first half of the course.
The final ‘Bonus Lesson’ is making the first-ever melody you learn in Module 1 into something special by using the melody, bass notes, and chords that you have learned over the course.
The final video talks about what to do next and the natural progression if you believe you are ready is to move to Paul’s intermediate course Next Level Playing.
What I haven’t mentioned in any of the modules above is that many of them contain an additional ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ segment to each lesson which helps you develop your learning further.
So if you are enjoying a lesson and find that you want to improve upon what you have already learned then these are excellent for you.
The additional resources you get with the course are:
- Practice Tracker (PDF Print Out)
- Glossary of Guitar Terms
- Chord Chart
- Video on how to care for your guitar
What I Enjoyed About The Course
I really enjoyed the variety of lessons included in each module and whilst the course is short compared to others it is extremely well-paced.
In one module you can learn some open chords, a scale, some theory, and some solo work. This type of mix happens from day one so you don’t have to wait till you played hundreds of hours before you can start trying to solo. Which makes learning really interesting as you are not stuck learning one thing.
The lessons are split into small bitesize chunks and run at a good pace whilst not being dense with the information that why provide. They feel like a challenge but not one that is unreachable as after a few attempts you can start to see some progress.
This process of challenge in reward is a difficult one to get right as if you make it too challenging it can put people off. If you make it too easy it can feel like a waste of money. So I feel that Paul really understands this and it likely comes from his many years of teaching people in person.
Throughout the course you learn theory alongside playing and the theory is lightly sprinkled throughout so it isn’t too heavy and you don’t feel like you are getting bogged down in a theory course. As a complete beginner you might not even realize that you are learning theory which is excellent at this stage.
The focus is on getting you playing from day one while lightly introducing theory concepts that will help you develop your playing.
Paul has automated emails that are sent to you as new modules open up, not only is this a good reminder but they are also very encouraging and add a personal touch which is very cool.
Along the way, Paul provides backing tracks in each module that are in the same key of the material you are learning. You then get to play along and feel like you are making music. Not only is this fun but it also feels like you are making music which is exactly what beginners need.
This method of learning is confidence-building and I really enjoyed the fact that this is introduced from Module 1 and is featured in every module thereafter.
What I Didn’t Like About The Course / Could Be Improved
In my opinion, there isn’t enough detail for a complete beginner. The ‘Getting Started’ module covers the basics but doesn’t go into a level of detail that I would expect to see if he was catering for those entirely new to the guitar.
As his sales page indicates, his main focus is on those who have started to learn guitar but have become frustrated with their lack of progress. So this would suggest he is catering for those who have played a little but I feel for the money you pay that the course needs to be more encompassing or the price should be dropped
Whilst the course has a good mix in each module it does begin to get a little tedious as time goes on. For example, you get to learn some melodies and build upon and develop them over a few modules as you get to learn more techniques. Whilst this is worthwhile it does feel a little dull when you have to keep revisiting a melody rather than push on to something new.
There are also no popular song tutorials in the course at all so you will have to supplement your learning by getting teaching for these elsewhere.
This is something really missing as Paul is extremely skilled and has showcased some excellent popular songs on his YouTube channel. It would be nice to see some similar but exclusive content that breaks down some iconic songs for those that sign up for the course.
What Others Are Saying
During my time learning with Learn, Practice, Play, I asked others who were part of the Facebook group that you get access to what they felt about the course. I won’t name names as they are part of the private group but just pass on the comments that I received.
On whether members felt the course provided all they needed to learn or if they supplemented their learning:
I also use JustinGuitar. Sometimes I need it because it goes more in detail. Additionally, I learn songs from various lesson sources on Youtube (Playing songs is a little bit more fun )
many members supplemented their learning it seemed;
I supplement with JustinGuitar as well as Tony Polecastro. And sometimes I just work on random songs like Slow Cheetah.
I use Paul’s course as a supplement to Justinguitar. Both have great content but different styles. Sometimes Paul is better, sometimes Justin for a particular topic.
In addition, I asked what members like and dislike about the course:
It can feel a little repetitive and get a bit boring. The good side is that it has you learning all the fundamentals of playing while not just being mundane drills.
Another agreed with this;
I agree. It feels a bit tedious at times and gets a bit old. But you do get some good fundamentals. You will notice that while learning songs or try other lessons. You get a few of those oh yeah moments.
So, overall I like it. But some of the things he teaches are hard for me to achieve in a short time frame. I think I’ll keep coming back to review some of the lessons every so often I also supplement with other songs etc to keep my interest up
On the course structure and the amount of content:
I was hoping it was more comprehensive. At the end of the day, it’s not many “hours” of actual lessons. The quality though is good I think.
Liked and enjoyed it. Could have found most of the info for free but I like Paul’s teaching style and “road map” most of it was easy but useful to me and filled in some big gaps in my playing.I’ve moved onto Paul’s other course which I absolutely love.
Others weren’t keen on the way the content is locked and opened up every two weeks (although if you email you can get it unlocked);
I’m a beginner/ intermediate player and have just finished. Overall I found it very useful and enjoyable. Agree that it is annoying you don’t get all of it together (that could be a counter-balance to the 30-day money-back guarantee?) and it is very expensive. On saying that I think I’ll go through it again quickly and then probably buy the next one!
So there is some general consensus of opinion here and a good indication of where the course could be improved but is the course worth it?
Is Learn, Practice, Play Worth It?
Paul to me is the ‘thinking man’s guitar teacher’ and where Learn, Practice, Play excels is in Paul’s ability to subtly plants seeds of theory in your head as you learn. Paul is laying out a ‘roadmap’ as he calls it as you move along through his course and it is a journey that is comfortable and well-paced.
It never feels like a ‘classroom’ but instead is a quick friendly explanation with a focus on getting playing straight away.
This is something that so many guitar players who want to be teachers get wrong when they try to teach on YouTube. It clearly is something Paul has learned and developed through teaching in-person and this in my mind makes him an excellent guitar teacher.
Paul’s interweaving of theory and playing is absolutely essential in progressing your guitar playing beyond beginner level and is where the course excels beyond any other beginner guitar course that I have played to date.
However, this being said, Learn, Practice, Play feels a little light in content for the money you pay, which is backed up by people supplementing their learning with other online material. This isn’t unusual but when they are supplementing out the bulk of their learning then this means there is something lacking and there isn’t quite enough content in the course.
Learn, Practice, Play is also not suited for an absolute beginner as a standalone, in my opinion. Whilst it covers some of the detail required for a newbie, it doesn’t have quite enough depth and ‘hand-holding’ in this area, compared to other beginner guitar courses.
One thing that surprised me, and I am a fan of Paul’s, is that the course can become a little tedious and dare I say it, boring.
The course started off really interesting and refreshing versus what I had been previously been learning but as you work through the modules, you start to revisit areas like a melody that increases in technical difficulty and this is where it can drag a bit.
Whilst these types of techniques are necessary for improvement it would have been nice if there was more content and new melodies or songs to learn.
This is the other point I need to make, it would be nice to have some popular songs mixed into the course. I like Paul’s teaching style, so getting a full breakdown of some popular songs or even recommendations to develop a technique or skill he is teaching would really help develop this course.
So overall Learn, Practice, Play is well structured but a little thin on content which makes the price tag feel high in comparison to what you get elsewhere online. For fans of Paul though who are at an ‘intermediate beginner stage’, if such a thing exists, then this course will be ideal for you. It will set you up for his intermediate course Next Level Playing and from what I have heard, that course is excellent and better than Learn, Practice, Play.
Interested in seeing how Paul’s Beginner Course stacks up against Justin Guitar’s Beginner Course which is entirely free? Then read my article and watch my video breakdown here Learn, Practice, Play Vs Justin Guitar.