And So It Begins

Would I seem too egomaniacal if I said I’ve had it with subpar guitar instruction?

I knew when I was 6 that guitar was just a way of life.  There was plenty of Kool-Aid and I drank it up.

Iwas watching the Carol Burnett Show. There was this woman on named Charo. I had no idea who this woman was – but DAMN could she play that guitar.  It sure didn’t sound like that when my dad randomly plucked on the classical guitar sitting in the corner.

I knew from that moment on that guitar was a way of life.

Charo studied with Andres Segovia. No such luck for me.

First there was the local music store in Downingtown, PA. They actually refused to teach me guitar.  My fingers were too small. Ever hear of a fractional guitar, guys?  They wanted me to play the piano.  Maybe if I took the top off the piano and plucked the strings with a pick…

A few years later, we had moved to the other end of the great State of Pennsylvania.  I tried for guitar lessons again. This time I got the first in a long line of teachers that believed everything I would ever need was contained in the Mel Bay books.

There were two problems. First, the Mel Bay books were already 20 or 30 years old. Second, the teachers weren’t really used to teaching. They were used to playing.  And they were good players, but they could not disseminate the art of playing guitar.

Above all, it was rare in those days to have girls want to play guitar.  I guess most of the teachers figured I wanted to do 3-chord singer-songwriter stuff.

But Charo and her blazing Flamenco guitar had left an indelible mark.

For years I searched and searched for a teacher that could take me where I wanted to go.  When I turned 16, I immediately started paying for my own lessons. I also made it a habit to hang out in the book stores (remember – this was all pre-internet) and grab anything I could on music theory and guitar.

Everything seemed so compartmentalized. You did this to read music. You did this to learn chords. You did this to learn something else.

There was no cohesion.  There wasn’t an all-encompassing method. There were pieces that needed to be put together like a puzzle.

Even after the dawn of the Information Age my struggles continued.

One thing the Internet has given us is the coach.  This is not someone who’s necessarily been there and done that.  What I find more often than not is that these are individuals who have taken “lessons” off of a “coach” whose goal is to make more coaches.  It’s almost like a twisted version of Jurassic Park,  We’ve found Coach DNA in the amber and we’re making more coaches.

I can just see Dennis Nedry now…

As a perpetual guitar student, I have signed up on nearly every guitar-related website I can find. Mostly, I find there is little in the way of new information or even a new way to present the information.

I have had teachers over Skype. I have purchased guitar courses.  I have tried everything.

In every life there is one shining moment where you experience a true breakthrough.  Dick Grove was that moment for me.

It was a Sunday and the Internet was in its infancy.  One of my jazz teachers (one of the good ones!) had me work through several of Dick Grove’s books.  I found a website from the master himself, Mr. Dick Grove.

I filled out an online inquiry and then promptly forgot about it.

Two hours later, I received a phone call.  From Dick Grove. Himself. Like live and in person.

My jaw hit the floor.  He spoke to me for nearly 2 hours. And in that 2 hours, it all started to make sense.  Music wasn’t a bento box of disparate skills. All of those skills fit together to create a whole.

I began my journey in earnest that day.

One of the outgrowths of that conversation with Mr. Grove is that I began writing all of my own lesson material for my students.

After years of torturing…I MEAN…teaching students and perfecting these lessons I have decided they are ready for prime time.

My first foray into the online guitar world is called Viberant Chords.  I really wanted to start with something that helped me.

When I started playing, I had the most trouble with chords.  For whatever reason, they didn’t seem to make sense to me and I had a hard time playing them.

It wasn’t until Mark Koch (see Mark? I DID listen!) showed me the CAGED method that they began making sense.  It was also then that I started to break free from the rut of playing a few comfort-zone chords and barre chords and really exploring the neck. Chordally speaking, that is.

I’ve put my own spin on CAGED and have added a lot of physical exercises that I found helpful when trying to learn chords.the

And now I actually have to get to work on putting it together for you!

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