I remember back when I was a kid in my old neighborhood. One of my neighbors used to sit on his back porch and play various Metallica songs on his electric guitar. He wasn’t great or anything, but it was fun to listen to him navigate the strings and chords for those songs. He was musically inclined, his brother was and their friend, the music teacher down in the middle school was as well. What a cool hobby for all of them to have – playing music.
I’ve thought about learning how to play guitar for a long time. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I actually did something about it. I guess the problem I faced and the reason I waited so long was that I had no idea where to begin. I didn’t think I’d appreciate shelling out all sorts of money for an instructor and I really didn’t know any anyway. It wasn’t until I found the mother of all guitar instruction – the Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar DVD set. I bought that set in 2012 and have been staring at it ever since. I think I mentioned in my previous post that I played for a few months and gave up. Today, I’m back and I’m stronger than ever.
Since I began this endeavor in 2012, I’ve had an open ear when it comes to eavesdropping on how others go about their own process of leaning this instrument. Surprisingly, I haven’t come across too many folks who follow the book and study method. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, students pick up a music book that simply tells them how to play a few chords to get through a handful of songs. Very few people know how to read music, much less know which guitar string is which and what notes are what. I was really shocked when I discovered this because quite honestly, guitar is an extremely difficult instrument to become even slightly proficient at playing and like anything else, the basics are absolutely critical.
I have tons of resources to help me learn. As I mentioned above, I have the Gibson package. That’s my home base; my primary learning source. That arrived with 20 DVDs that cover playing the very first string all the way through barre and power chords to fingerstyle guitar. That resource is absolutely jam packed with good stuff, methodically laid out and presented in such a way that if failure occurs, it’s only the student’s fault. Gibson even offers a web forum to visit for motivation. Personally, I wouldn’t even try to learn guitar any other way. And I haven’t even mentioned the supplemental materials yet. The additional resources are more in depth than the primary ones.
Here are a few of the DVDs.
Here are additional jam along DVDs, which are helpful when students get to the point of playing with others.
And here is one page out of the supplemental materials. I just happen to be up to practicing the third and fourth strings.
Beyond that, I have the Hal Leonard Guitar Method 3 in 1 book that offers all sorts of guitar instruction coupled with lots of exercises and songs. Because I want as many places to turn to as I’m practicing, I flip between the Gibson and the Hal Leonard books. This method is encouraged by both.
A few days ago, I got all jazzed up and ordered three books that are stuffed with various popular songs. Again, these songs were put out by Hal Leonard and are called Easy Pop Melodies. Each of the songs in the books correlate with a section in the Guitar Method book I just mentioned. These extra songs can really open up anyone’s game and make learning guitar some serious fun. As a matter of fact, I was just playing the beginnings of Fields of Gold by Sting. There are incredible songs in these books (that become increasingly more challenging to play towards the end).
When it comes to learning an instrument, music theory is a very important aspect to become familiar with. While both the Gibson and Hal Leonard resources cover pretty much anything I’d want to know regarding music theory, I decided to pick up some additional books. I just ordered:
Music Theory for Guitarists: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask (Guitar Method) by Tom Kolb
Guitar: The Circle of Fifths for Guitarists: Learn and Apply Music Theory for Guitar by Mr. Joseph Alexander
I’m really psyched about these two additional books because I’ll have the opportunity to study theory any time I wish. I won’t have to wait for the related section in my instruction books. I find this entire area so interesting and I’m especially motivated because of the simple fact that so many people quit shortly after they begin playing. I love to separate myself from the crowd by becoming good at things and if this is another way to do that, so be it. I’m fine with it. I guess the actual playing will be fun too.
Anyway, I just wanted to share some information about what I do for an hour every day. Engaging in something like this is a lifelong challenge, but one that’s so very rewarding.