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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Where to Begin?

Last week I published a blog titled, Is There "Innate" Talent?

In a word, "No."

I argued that "talent" was a more-or-less neurotic drive (with strong OCD components) to put in the time and do the work that it takes to achieve a very high level of guitar playing which is then perceived as some kind of innate "talent" by those not driven to put in the time and do the work, or not aware of the time and work.

If you disagree please click the link and read the previous post. BTW - There was plenty of disagreement on various Master Guitar School social media sites that linked to it. That's ok, there was some very interesting discussion. I like discussion.

At the end of that post I said,

So when I have a student who comes in and says, "Man, I need to take a break from

lessons; I just can't put in the time I need to progress the way I want."

I say, "Sure, no problem, and sincere congratulations on being reasonably well- adjusted!"

It occurs to me that I may have given the impression that, as a teacher, I'm only interested in teaching those who have the drive to do the kind of work that it takes to get really good.

Not true. Notice the student quoted above said, "...the way I want." - not, "... the way you want."

I'm very conscious about NOT projecting my own obsession onto my students. I've arranged my whole life around playing the guitar - I don't expect that kind of commitment from every student. In fact, it's a rare thing.

There are many valid reasons to take guitar lessons, only one of which is, "I want to be a pro."

Make no mistake, it is true that I have many students and former students that are pros. I have prepared students for Berklee School of Music in Boston, Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Miami University, North Texas State and others - all prestigious music schools. I have former students in some very big-time bands. I have many former students that are making a living as musicians; if you have the drive to do the work, I have the stuff to get you to a pro level as a player. But only you can do the work.

However, as I said, that kind of student is a rarity.

I will teach total beginners. I will teach little kids. I'll help teenagers with the jazz band charts from school. I'll help retired Boomers learn the classic songs from their youth. I'll help the guy playing on the worship team at church. I'll teach any level and most genres.

There are a few genres that I'm not comfortable with or that I consider specialties; bottleneck slide, really hard-core traditional bluegrass and flamenco guitar are three that come to mind.

If someone wants to specialize in classical guitar I can get them to an intermediate level at which point I would refer them to a real classical guitar teacher - or more likely just refer them to the classical teacher to begin with.

Another caveat would be going deep into altered tunings. I can teach Drop-D, Open G and Open E. If someone brings me a song that is in some kind of altered tuning that I'm not familiar with I just google it for the tab, which will give me the tuning. C'mon bro; anyone can do that.

I did delve deep into altered tunings for several years but wound up abandoning that direction. That story is in the blog, Altered States - Unique Voicings.

Genre is secondary to me because my approach is theory-centric and all genres use the same theory. A G major chord is a G major whether it's in Amazing Grace or some satanic death-metal song. I teach the G major. You want help with application? Amazing Grace? Death Metal? I can do that, but the G major comes first.

If you have questions about who and what I'm willing to teach, start with the Lesson Policies and FAQ on the website. Even though the FAQs were written with personal students in mind, many of them apply to the online lessons and lesson downloads available to Site Members as well.

So now I'm attempting to apply my theory-centric approach for guitar lessons to the internet environment. That includes beginner-level content.

The philosophy is the same and the basic approach is the same. The main difference is that I'm redesigning the lessons to be as self-contained as possible.

In my opinion, "self-teaching" is an oxymoronic concept. I understand what people mean; we all started that way. Some people can get farther than others with it but no matter who does it and how "talented" they may be, the fact remains that teaching yourself is THE most inefficient way to learn there is. Sooner or later, guidance and oversight are necessary for progress.

That's true no matter what level you're on or what your aspirations are: singing 3-chord songs around the campfire, playing at home for your own enjoyment, playing on the worship team at church or attaining to a professional level - all valid goals and reasons to take guitar lessons.

So I hope that I've clarified something that may not have been apparent in the last blog post; I'm willing to start at wherever the student is and go from there - to wherever the student is interested in going.

It is my goal that reflect that. However, I'm still in the early stages of content creation and have been concentrating on rewriting and formatting my method book, Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar as PDF downloads.

With the exception of the 5-Lesson Foundational Series, Power Chords and some blues soloing material, basic, beginner-type stuff is something I've avoided (up to now) for the following reasons:

1) Beginners have the greatest need for in-person, one-on-one guidance and oversight. That's very difficult to provide in the internet environment. Anything other than in-person, one-on-one is suboptimal.

2) Stuff like 1st position chords, bar chords, the 12-bar Blues form, and other beginner-type things are easily obtainable - for free - all over the web, just google.

So rather than spend time creating content that's already free and easily obtainable I've chosen to concentrate on more advanced material first. That's the stuff wherein the uniqueness, method and scope of my approach becomes more apparent.

Also, intermediate to advanced students are an easier fit for the internet environment because the thrust of the lessons is conceptual rather than technique oriented - thus the one-off Skype Consult deal available to Site Members.

You can find "how to play a Blues solo" tens of thousands of places on the web; you can't find how to understand, play and solo over bitonal harmony in very many places. That's where I'm going.

I started with Unit 3: Triads. Then Open PositionTriads. I've also published Unit 4: 7th Chords. Unit 5: 7th Inversions will be published shortly (tentatively April or May 2019). There are 10 Units altogether.

There are some other products (see the Downloads page) but the four I've mentioned above are from the Vertical Truth method, and that's what I've chosen to concentrate on first.

Having said that, it is my plan that, once the Unique Voicings series being given away in the monthly newsletter is done, the next things that I give away in the monthly newsletter to site members will be beginner-type stuff; 1st position chords, bar chords, the 12-Bar Blues etc.

So if you are more of a beginner and have thought that the stuff you see on the website is too advanced for you, take heart! I will get to you shortly. A few more lessons will be given away in the Unique Voicings series and then the monthly newsletter will be all about the stuff you beginner to intermediate players want!

Sign up now if you are not a site member and begin receiving the newsletter the 2nd Tuesday of every month.

Contact me and give me suggestions/ideas for content you would like to see. Doesn't matter how advanced you may or may not be; even if you're a total beginner,

I want to hear from you!


Sign up as a Master Guitar School site member - it's free! - and get access to dozens of free site-based lessons, a monthly newsletter that contains a brand-new free lesson, and DEEP discounts on lesson series downloads - plus more!

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