Courses  Instructors  How It Works Plans & Pricing Blog Resources 

Log In

Log In 
Don't have an account? Sign Up

Reset Password

An email has been sent with instructions on how to reset your password.

Sign Up For Free

Then join a course

Our store is currently undergoing maintenance. Check back in a few hours.
Already have an account? Log In

Why I Created ArtistWorks


learning guitar

When we last left off, ArtistWorks founder David Butler was finally learning how to play guitar after receiving a Sears Silvertone (read Part 3 here). David's experience learning guitar ultimately inspired him to develop a new way to learn guitar online by establishing ArtistWorks, a company dedicated to providing a better way to teach and learn music. We find him now in the waiting room of the Jack Marshall Music Store, waiting for his first guitar lesson.

David encapsulates his musical journey in ArtistWorks’ newest course, Beginner's Guide to Acoustic Guitar. Taught by David, these online music lessons provide fundamental acoustic guitar lessons for beginners in a fun, approachable manner. You’ll learn how to play acoustic guitar through lessons that are based on the songs of your youth, including tunes by The Beach Boys, Van Morrison and Neil Young.

Part 4: Duane Breaks My Heart

I soon found myself sitting in the music lesson waiting area at the back of the Jack Marshall Music store.  I was twelve years old, and my mom sat beside me on the worn couch.

A cacophony of beginner music lessons was in the air -- I could hear squeaky clarinets, belching trumpets and tubas, pianos and snare drums.  I had my trusty Silvertone with me (I carried it around with no case).

As much as I loved my guitar, it looked shabby compared to the racks of new guitars in the store.  Hanging along the periphery were rows of Gibson and Martin acoustic guitars, Fender and Hagstrom electric guitars and basses.  Against the wall were tan guitar amplifiers and also the newer-style black Fender amplifiers. There were banjos and mandolins and autoharps, and even an accordion.  At the front of the store was a glass counter, and in inside it were hundreds of styles of picks (nickel each), guitar strings (buck-fifty a pack), and harmonicas.  I loved being in the store, it was a sensory feast of color and sound. 

About five minutes later, a woman called my name and told me to see Duane in the lesson room area.  My heart began to race.  It hadn't occurred to me to request a specific teacher, so I had been assigned one, Duane, a gaunt man in his early-thirties.  He wore a too-large, stained bowling shirt and had a lit cigarette hanging from the side of his mouth.  He led me into one of the little rooms in the back of the store, a room just big enough for two chairs and a music stand.

"Sit down," he said with the lit cigarette flipping up and down in his mouth.  I sat down with my guitar on my knee, and Duane sat down in his chair and looked at me, obviously bored.  To him, I was another kid at the end of a long day, another three dollar lesson.

"Let me have your guitar" he finally said.  I handed it to him and he reached down to a guitar in an open case on the floor behind us, and plucked its high 'E' string.  "Got to tune you up, kid" he told me.
He proceeded to tune my Silvertone as best he could, fighting its cheap tuning pegs and dead strings.  "Get your mom to buy you new strings before you come back," he mumbled as he handed my guitar back to me.
He slowly pulled the guitar behind us out of its case, and I immediately noticed a price tag hanging from one of its tuning pegs. "It's not mine," he said, "I just grab any old guitar to teach with."  It was a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar, the most beautiful guitar I had ever seen up close.  The price tag said "$425".
gibson hummingbird

I quickly computed that his guitar was worth over four hundred dollars more than mine.  Wow.  Duane reached over to the Alfred's Basic Guitar Method Book on the music stand, and opened it to page one.

"Kid, first thing you have to do is learn to read music."  He played the first exercise from method book, a line of single notes all within the first 3 frets, played on the 'E' and 'B' strings.  He never asked me to show him what I already knew.  He never asked me want I wanted to learn.  And he never called me anything except "kid".

He taught from the method book, that's just what you got for $3.00, like it or not.  And the line he played from exercise one had nothing to do with anything. My heart sank.  

guitar method book
Next:  A Fierce Cycle of Music Education Mediocrity



Affordable Plans

Each subscription is for a single school. Pricing and features can vary slightly per school.

1 Month membership
renews monthly
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$35/month (prepaid)
3 Month membership
renews every 3 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$30/month (prepaid)
12 Month membership
renews every 12 months
Unlimited Access to Lessons
Unlimited Video Exchanges
Exclusive Content
$20/month (prepaid)