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The Importance of Learning to Play Guitar

 


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I have been playing guitar for about 30 years and I would like to talk to you about the importance of learning to play guitar, which can be seen as a real step towards self-sufficiency in entertainment and also for self-improvement and improved self-esteem. It is a very empowering feeling to learn to play a piece of music on your own and people are often amazed at how quickly, with the right tuition and a bit of practice, a person can produce very acceptable results on the guitar.

This is partly because the guitar is the one of the easiest and most versatile of all musical instruments and this may be why it is so popular. The strings are arranged in such a way to make it as easy as possible for a beginner to play recognizable chords with the minimum discomfort.

The guitar is unsurpassed as an accompaniment to vocals and has a wide variety of methods and styles by which it can be played; we have Strumming, finger picking and slide, styles include pop, rock, folk, classical, jazz, country, flamenco, blues, ballad, and hundreds of sub-styles within these categories. As well as being used for accompaniment the guitar has come in to its own as the most expressive lead instrument. Another unique feature of the guitar is its ability to be tuned outside of the standard western EADGBE tuning; you can tune the strings to sound an open chord, for example, And so the beginner can play all the major chords just by barring one finger across the fretboard.

There are dozens of popular alternative tunings to experiment with, you can even invent your own and this means you can compose tunes that nobody else can play unless they can work out the tuning you have used. Now we have micro electronics it is the norm for an acoustic guitar to come equipped with a very high quality acoustic pickup under the bridge and active volume and tone controls, (even an electronic tuner) on a panel on the side of the body, facing you when the guitar is being played. These are not just gimmicks but incredibly useful and time saving features that eliminate the need for a microphone and the associated problems of feedback and having to stand or sit facing the mic all the time, giving the player the freedom to walk around with just a cable trailing from the guitar (if even that is unacceptable, you can always go wireless!)

There is even a dedicated music scoring method just for guitar players called tab or tablature which shows the player exactly where to press the strings on what fret with what finger. . . . we already had the time- honored method of showing a chord pattern above the lyrics of a sheet music song for guitar, here is an example of guitar tab. . you read from left to right, the music is divided into bars of time, the strings are represented as you would see them while playing and the numbers represent your fingers, 1= forefinger, 4= pinky, 2 and 3 the middle ones. It's recommended that you actually know and have a recording of the piece you are learning, it makes life a lot easier! When you are learning guitar you start to listen to music in a different way. Once you have started learning some chords and a little music theory, you start to recognize patterns and phrases in music that you can add to your ever-growing repertoire.

Another great thing about guitar playing is it's a collector's hobby. . by that I mean apart from the fact that guitar players love collecting guitars, there are the amplifiers and effects to try out as well, they are a lot of fun to play with and there are hundreds out there. There's distortion, delay, flanging, chorus, reverb, wah wah, compression and you can use combinations to produce your own unique sound. No other instrument allows you so much creative scope and you have to admit, the guitar has a lot of character, and that's why I love it so much. I wholeheartedly recommend that if you have one lying around, get it out, give it a clean and get online and learn some tunes, you won't regret it!

Using a Pc and guitar for music recording and practice - My favorite sites for learning tunes and techniques are Google.com, Youtube.com, E-chords.com and Chordie.com to name just a few.

My approach to helping a beginner who has just got a guitar and has a PC Internet facility is - I can help you to get the basic skills you need to get you started and point you at some great web sites, I reckon after 10 or so lessons you shouldn't need me any more! The web has so many excellent sites you can visit to learn how to learn at every stage of guitar playing in every style, often for free or at a nominal price, when you “buy into" an e-course/pay-to-view site, you often get great video, audio and text content at a very reasonable price. If you decide to join an online community like Riffworld.com you get the chance to post your tunes or even half-baked ideas onto their user web site and get feedback and comments from other users, even collaborate on line with other musicians on the same projects.

When I was just starting to learn to play guitar all I had was a few records, a chord book and a battered old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Nowadays for only a few pounds/dollars you can add an audio interface to your home computer that will transform it into a fully- equipped recording studio that would rival what was the state of the art 10 years ago. You can use it to emulate any instrument, recording environment, effect system and record as many tracks as you like. Overdubbing on tape always meant re-recording the previous track and combining it with the new recording, resulting in degradation of sound quality.

The problems associated with tape hiss, mechanical noise, earth buzz, wow/flutter, not to mention the miles of cabling, the huge consumption of power, the space needed for all the racks of equipment, are all, thankfully, a thing of the past. So is the need to go begging to record companies for a contract, which was essentially a loan secured on the promise of record sales in the future - now a would- be pop star or composer can record every aspect of a piece of modern, contemporary or whatever style they choose of music on a home PC, and publish it, with video if they like, straight onto the internet for world- wide consumption and comment. People can download it onto their MP3/Ipod/Laptop or mobile phone and listen wherever and whenever they want at no cost. Never before has the young artist, writer or musician had so much power at their fingertips to be able to have their efforts enjoyed by so many people over the entirety of our planet, without having to get in debt to the media companies. Making money out of music is and always was, an illusion to all but the corporations who owned the manufacturing, advertising and distribution networks.

Of course you can make money out of music, but no more so than in any other industry, if you treat it like a job or a business and keep your expectations realistic. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you found useful, I would welcome your comments and feedback.

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