set list

Welcome to a new Monday email with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including thoughts about building a set list, the universe, and more. Here we go…


#1 – The universe will keep testing you

The universe certainly does like to test us all on the guitar and in life.

Over the past few weeks, I have no idea how I have managed to get any work done, and the guitar/teaching plans I did have were tossed in the air like it was raining pancakes.

First, Archie’s mom got covid and was laid low for a week, meaning I had to take a lot of time off work (but Arch and I had extra quality time), then I got ill with it, and it knocked me about a bit.


I couldn’t get much work done as I was resting up

Then Archie’s school year closed for a few days, so he was back with me.

Sometimes there is no point fighting it. You just got to ride it out, try your best and keep a smile on your face.

You know what, that is my philosophy with life and the guitar too.


If you ever find playing guitar tough, do your best to keep smiling, keep having fun on the guitar each day, and don’t fight it too much.

We all have ups and downs on the guitar.

…And for every “down”, there is usually an “up” around the corner.

The universe likes to test us, but I do find it likes to reward us too.


#2 – “You’re a melody player, not a guitar player”

Someone once said those words to me.

At the time, this seemed like weird advice to me.

It was a much older chap at my mom’s party when I was about 16 who said this.

I had only been playing guitar a few months and just wanted to rock out (and impress girls, if I am totally honest).


It turns out, a few years later, I released he was right.

This guy played other instruments and what he meant by “you’re a melody player, not a guitar player” is that so much of music is about melody.

If you get the melody right, you are halfway there.

It is a simple mindset but one that many other non-guitar playing musicians have.


Those who play piano, trumpet, violin, clarinet, oboe, etc., often focus on melodies.

On guitar though, it is easy to get caught up with chords, fretboard knowledge, barres, scales, etc.

Don’t get me wrong – that is all important stuff, but a huge part of music is the melody.

After all, the melody is present when playing riffs, lead, fingerstyle arrangements, and when singing and playing guitar, and more.

It is good advice that chap shared, and I find it a good idea to keep that in mind, even these days.


#3 – “Set list” building is a special skill

One thing I like to tell students is this:

Keep on building and refining an amazing set list of songs.

A “set list” of course, is a list of songs that bands and solo artists use on stage.

They methodically craft this list of songs, often over many years, so they can put on the most memorable show for their audience.


Now, I know most of you play for yourselves (and rightly so).

Even so, having a set list of between 5-10 wonderful songs that you love to play is a great thing.

I mean, you must love what you play (otherwise what is the point?)

That is why it is key to have a set list of songs.


With a good set list, you will be excited to pick up the guitar and play some stunning pieces every day.

You will always have something to look forward to when it comes to practising…

…And if someone else ever hears you play these pieces, it is likely they will be impressed too, which is always a bonus.

Therefore, keep working on your set list, for yourself above all.


For more help with creating a set list, you may want to check out the songs in The Fingerstyle Collection course.

They are all lots of fun to play.

The course is on sale until tonight with a big discount.

Inside, you have the choice of 18 of the best fingerstyle arrangements I have ever taught (and ones which I personally love to play as part of my own set list).


It features all of these songs taught in HD video, with lifetime access (so you can keep perfecting the songs and enjoying them for many years) and now…

It comes with an updated printable PDF songbook, featuring all the songs in the course, which you can print off and place on your music stand to use alongside the videos.

Find out more about The Fingerstyle Collection – and learn 18 beautiful arrangements specifically arranged for the guitar


The songs inside really are a huge amount of fun to play.


Have a great Monday!

Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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