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learning guitarWe continue in our series of blogs written by ArtistWorks founder David Butler about his own experience learning guitar in the 1960s. In our last installement, David had just taken his first guitar lesson at his local music store. Much to his dismay, it wasn't exactly the kind of helpful guitar instruction he was looking for... David's experience learning guitar ultimately inspired him to develop a new way to learn guitar online

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 5: A Fierce Cycle of Music Education Mediocrity
 

After taking my first guitar lesson from Duane I headed home with my red Alfred's Basic Guitar Method Book, determined to give this music store lesson approach a try. Duane checked off the first three exercises for me to work on, and I went home and dug in. 

learning guitar

Although I hoped that working on these boring exercises would somehow translate to me playing better guitar, I was mystified how. I quietly wondered if the cool guys I listened to on the radio learned their craft from Alfred's Basic Guitar Method.  I guessed it was possible … so I worked on my exercises, and went back to Duane for my next lesson, then the next. 

I couldn't help but notice that I wasn't getting any better on guitar. Since I had begged my parents for lessons, I felt guilty, like it was my fault. Duane remained as bored and disengaged as he was in my first lesson, and I starting dreading going back to him. After two months I told my mom she didn't need to take me to my lesson at the Jack Marshall music store. She was probably relieved, one less expense, one less thing to deal with in her busy week. I felt like a failure.

 

 

 
learning guitar

Reflecting on this childhood experience, this was a regrettable missed opportunity. I can't help but wonder if things would have been different if Duane had actually been a great player and effective teacher. Note: non-productive music training was a common experience for kids of my generation, and to some extent it is still true today. Though there are exceptions, thousands of kids across America have impulses to learn a musical instrument totally extinguished by bored "professional" teachers at the back of local music stores.  

I don't mean to be too critical. There is good information in the mid-60's edition of Alfred's Basic Guitar Method and other similar traditional music method books. The authors of these books are competent intermediate and advanced players following their publisher's tried and true guidelines. Their formulaic music method books provide a semblance of foundational music education. It was (and is) big business. 

As for music teachers, there are many great teachers working tirelessly in music stores and home studios everywhere, able to inspire their students to strive to great musical heights.  

But let's be honest: the basic conundrum is that really great players rarely teach beginners.  And they rarely write method books. They are just too busy playing and performing. Music education for the rest of us, therefore, is left to the less-than-great, and a fierce cycle of mediocre music instruction perpetuates. The result is that generation after generation of children are deprived of one of life's great joys: Making Your Own Music.

I, along with the rest of the team at ArtistWorks, are determined to break this fierce cycle of music education mediocrity. 

 
Next:  Trading Licks and Lonely Plateaus 
 

 

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