Volume Two Reviews



Andrew Nafziger, Guitar Teacher:

This book nicely lays out the fundamental theoretical concepts that I am consistently trying to impart to my students. It has ample exercises that are practical, and is written in such a way that I can use it to compliment my own teaching style. A great find that will streamline the process of teaching my students beginning and advanced music theory.


Paul Chasman, Guitar Teacher:

In “The Guitar Lesson Companion, Vol. 2,” Susan Palmer has written a comprehensive, systematic method book which will undoubtedly provide a valuable resource to many students and teachers. Susan takes an organized, step-by-step approach as she walks the user through the building blocks of harmony, triads, scales, and their applications. The manual invites participation with fill-in-the-blanks exercises for every concept in every key, and later provides a CD with rhythm tracks to practice improvising with. “The Companion” is an excellent supplement to private guitar instruction.


Matt Hitchman, Guitar Student:

Ever since working my way through Susan Palmer’s first book, The Guitar Lesson Companion Volume I, I’ve been awaiting Volume II. With it’s release I became an eager and impressed recipient of Volume II. The Guitar Lesson Companion Volume II offers comprehensive, in depth theory and inspiring lessons with jam tracks. Playing along to the jam tracks has become an integral part of my practice schedule and I was amazed at my rate of improvement. Volume II offers a clarity and completeness I have been unable to find in other guitar books (even general music theory books are wanting!). I am still in the midst of working through Volume II and am working through it voraciously. It is a must have for all guitarists wanting to take their playing to that next, magical level.


Jon Bloomer, of GuitarNoize.com:

Back in May 2008 I reviewed a book called ‘The Guitar Lesson Companion’ by Susan Palmer, since then Susan’s books have been used worldwide by guitar teachers and students so Susan set about creating a second volume as a continuation of the first book divided up into three parts: Part One: Music Theory, Part Two: Improvisation and Part Three: Chords, stylistic studies and scales. All the examples are in standard music notation by the way so if you can’t read music I suggest you look at Volume 1 first.

Part One mainly deals with scales, explaining how they are constructed with some worksheets to complete which will help guitar students learn the major key scales, triads and 7th chords. There are also a whole load of worksheets to help you identify intervals such as fifths, sixths and sevenths and whether they are major or minor. Following these are some worksheets that help the student identify Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished triads before moving on to an extensive section about Modes. The Modes section explains not only modes of the Major scale but also modes of the Melodic and Harmonic Minor scales too so it gets pretty technical in places but the layout and explanations are clear and concise. This section of the book concludes with a look at the Diminshed, Dominant Diminshed, Whole Tone scales with some explanations about application and of course you can practice what you are learning using the jam tracks on the included CD.

Part two covers Improvisation which has a number of backing tracks and notated chord changes along with a list of scale patterns that can be used with each, Susan provides worksheets for the scales that are going to be used so that you get used to working out exactly what notes are in each scale and how to notate this on paper including the chord tones before launching into a solo. All of the examples are also accompanied by scale box pattern diagrams in various positions on the fretboard too for a quick reference. Each subsection is a different key so that you get used to improvising in every key rather than sticking to the safe keys that us guitarists love to hover around.

The final part of the book begins with a section on chords and a very useful exercise of notating triads in various positions of the guitar neck using standard chord box diagrams, so for instance you are given the root, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion patterns of a Major triad starting on the 6th string and then have to write out the Minor, Augmented and Diminished triads, a very useful exercise. Susan then builds on these basic triads by introducing chords for big band and swing jazz music including minor and major 7th triads, major and minor 6th triads and diminished 7th triads. The worksheets in this section are to help you visualize chord patterns in every key all over the neck, something which most guitarists wouldn’t have a hope in doing but following this simple method will help you commit this information to memory.

This book is called a guitar lesson companion for a reason, yes you could work through this yourself but the chances are you are going to get lazy and cut corners so it is going to be much more beneficial if you work through this book with a guitar teacher who can not only explain some of the more complicated concepts but also make sure you are working through the book at a pace that allows you to really take everything in.


George Stone, Guitar Teacher:

I’ve used Susan Palmer’s Guitar Lesson Companion Volume 1 as the primary teaching tool for all of my students over the past 6 years.  Volume 2 has been the perfect follow-up method for advancing students.  While Vol 1 gives a comprehensive and logical approach to the fundamentals of music as applied to the guitar, Vol 2 prepares an advancing guitarist with the foundation needed to become a musician.  One of my students who had previously completed Volume 1 and was in the process of working through Volume 2 breezed through a music theory class in school with no effort because of the work he had already completed in the Susan Palmer books.  I recommendVolume 2 for any guitar student who has goals of moving forward as a musician.


Peter Casey, Guitar Student:

The guitar lesson companion is a very aptly named book. I personally learned most of the contents in this book over a 2 year period while taking guitar lessons and getting a music minor from Seattle University. If I had not been in guitar lessons, I would have found this book rather daunting. It is very thorough in both its music theory and jazz improvisational content. Without a teacher to help motivate, divide the material, and guide the student through the content, it is far less useful. However, it does provide a very well laid-out and thorough instructional framework; including a deep and wide variety of theory and improvisational exercises. It is not a “music theory” book and you won’t be exposed to everything one could find in a formal music theory course or book. However, it does give the necessary depth and breadth in order to progress towards a deep understanding of the fretboard.

The book uses jazz improvisation and standard music theory to get to a place of real understanding about the guitar. I grew comfortable enough with the material to start playing small combo jazz gigs around Seattle. This included a few chord melodies, playing the melodies and improvising over the chord changes of about 15 jazz tunes. Picking up one of the “New Real Books” is a great way to supplement the content of this book and get ready to play shows. I don’t play straight jazz standards very often any more, but studying these skills opened me up so much  as a guitarist and musician in general. My writing on guitar features a lot of jazz based chords in pop, rock, and funk contexts. I couldn’t play the things I do without having a background in jazz guitar. I would fully recommend this book and volume one of the Guitar Lesson Companion series to any guitarists looking into really diving in and immersing themselves in the subject.


Ryan Burns, Music Teacher:

This is perhaps the best Workbook I have seen for playing jazz guitar. Very thorough, and well laid out.

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