DVD Review: Adam Rafferty Teaches The Jackson Five

How To Play The Music of The Jackson Five is Adam Rafferty’s newest instructional DVD for fingerstyle players. Included are four of Adam’s signature arrangements: “I’ll Be There”, “I Want You Back”, “Never Can Say Goodbye”, and “ABC.” The DVD/booklet includes full standard notation and tablature and sells for $34.97 at www.adamrafferty.com. Running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes.

This release is a natural follow-up to Adam’s previous instructional DVD, How to Play the Music of Stevie Wonder [Review]. It follows virtually the same format and offers the same high quality playing and instruction. Adam begins the video by offering up some valuable strategies for how to go about tackling new and difficult pieces including: warming-up, playing slowly, focusing on one piece at a time and engaging in positive self talk while you practice. Adam points out that although immediate results are not usually apparent, after a good practice session your mind will continue to process the music while you are doing other activities. I’ve found this to be true in my own experience, but I’ve never heard anyone else express it before.

After the introduction, each song is shown as a complete performance followed by an instruction segment lasting about 25 minutes. You could basically consider the package as a series of four in-depth half-hour lessons that you can review at your leisure. Quite a value when you think of it that way! Here’s some of what I said about the Stevie Wonder video. All of it holds true for this video as well:

“Adam is comfortable in front of the camera and is obviously used to breaking down information into short, easily understood phrases. There is enough detail given to the specialized guitar techniques used that you can’t misinterpret how to recreate them. Once enough explanation has been given, short sections of the tune are demonstrated at a slow enough tempo that intermediate-level players should be able to start playing along with only a little practice. Adam ends most instructional segments with some performance notes and often points out places where he has slightly changed elements of the original songs in order to make them groove harder and sound more at home on the guitar. The booklet that accompanies the DVD contains very detailed scores in standard notation and tablature. Left-hand fingerings are included for every note and occasional right-hand fingerings are indicated as well.”

The attention to detail given to the right- and left-hand fingerings here is something rarely seen outside of classical circles. Adam takes his time explaining each arrangement and gives specific demonstrations that compliment the written music perfectly. He has clearly put a lot of time into not only the arrangements themselves, but the way in which he chooses to execute and teach them. It’s meticulous but never tedious. Adam’s skills as a performer and arranger have obviously developed since the last video too. The songs in the Jackson Five video are funkier and a bit more technically advanced than the Stevie Wonder portfolio and the collection seems to have a few common elements that are evident throughout. Luscious chords and deep grooves abound. Percussive slaps and funky muted lines are used liberally as well as cool percussion breakdown in “ABC” which will definitely turn some heads.

The only thing that I found a bit confusing at first was the way in which the songs that use a capo were notated in the tablature staff. Most publishers tend to notate the capo location as the nut and notate all other frets in relation to the capo. Instead, the tab here shows the actual fret number where the capo is positioned and indicates all of the fretted notes in their actual location as well. The choice to notate the songs this way actually makes a lot of sense – especially as you will be moving all around the neck – but it may throw some folks for a loop until they get used to reading the TAB in this format.

I absolutely loved watching and working with the Jackson Five DVD. Any fingerstyle guitarist willing to spend time practicing will surely be rewarded with some uplifting new repertoire and gain some new insights as well. I can’t wait to hear what Adam does next. Whatever it is, I hope that he will continue to share his knowledge and arrangements with like-minded guitarists.

Visit www.adamrafferty.com to find out more about Adam or check out his YouTube channel to enjoy more of his music.

If you’d like to hear all of the arrangements that are available on the new DVD follow this link: http://krunchd.com/raffertyj5tunes. You can scroll through the videos using the arrows in the upper right corner of the screen. Below is a short trailer for the DVD.

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