She Shreds x Pickup Music Presents: A R&B Master Class with Melanie Faye
Nashville guitarist Melanie Faye pairs up with She Shreds x Pickup Music for a lesson on R&B guitar techniques.
When we last spoke with Melanie Faye in 2018, she had no recorded releases nor touring experience—just a viral Instagram page that sent the then-20-year-old guitarist soaring into our consciousness with her iconic and soulful playing.
In her She Shreds Magazine Issue 14 cover interview, Faye shared the main tools that were pivotal in developing her guitar playing: “Being patient and having the drive and determination to learn something else. It’s easy to learn something and then just plateau and not really push yourself to get better, to just play the same thing over and over again for the next few months. But you just have to push past that wall. You have to be determined to move into the next obstacle.”
Since then, the Nashville-born guitarist has performed and toured with acclaimed artists such as Willow, Noname, Hayley Williams, Mac DeMarco, and Bibi McGill—in fact, in 2018, when we asked who she would like to play with in the future, Faye mentioned McGill, and we absolutely loved to see this dream achieved. She’s also been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, invited by Fender to demo their Player Series, was a featured artist at NAMM 2020, and released her masterful debut self-titled EP featuring six R&B compositions of expressive and lush guitar work in conversation with her silky vocals.
With touring on hold due to the pandemic Faye has shifted to education, spreading her passion and love for guitar by offering musical instruction to aspiring guitar and bass players. And now, she has paired up with Pickup Music to teach a seven-day R&B techniques master class.
Watch the She Shreds x Pickup Music video lesson for a sneak peak into what you can expect from the full Pickup Music master class, where she walks you through the chords of an R&B progression, including different variations as well as tips for picking techniques such as hammer ons, slides, and thumb slaps, as well as an assignment to create a similar chord progression in a completely different key.
Read on for a short interview with Melanie Faye, watch the She Shreds x Pickup Music lesson, check out her Pickup Music master class, and play along with the tabs below!
A lot has changed in your world since you last spoke to us in 2018: you’ve collaborated and toured with a formidable roster of musicians, and in 2020 you released your debut self-titled EP. How do you feel your guitar playing has evolved? What lessons have you learned along the way, guitar-related and/or in general? And where do you see yourself in three years from now?
My guitar playing has evolved in the most simple, yet profound ways. I discovered the true meaning of “less is more.” I discovered layers. I discovered that I don’t have to play chords and notes that are diatonic to the key. I discovered that the Western system of music theory is not the only system. In general, music theory is not an objective science, but rather ideas/concepts that can help you understand certain styles of music.
In regards to my personal and professional life, I learned to be less trusting and more discerning. I have a vision for where I’ll be three years from now, but it’s a secret! Everyone else will find out when they find out.
Since the onset of the pandemic you’ve started giving virtual guitar lessons. What is your approach to teaching the guitar? And how has teaching informed your own playing?
I try to build upon the student’s current level. I help them take baby steps out of their box by relating new material to things they already know. Teaching has helped me fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
Is there any specific gear or technique that has been particularly inspiring to your playing lately?
I’ve been studying Giant Steps by John Coltrane in an effort to understand how to use the circle of fifths in my own songwriting.