Like many other young people in their high school and college years, for me, playing music was both a creative outlet and a way to earn some extra money. My instrument of choice was the electric guitar and my go-to guitar at that time was a Fender Telecaster, played through a Fender Twin Reverb amp. Hours of practice brought my skill level high enough for me to land a guitarist spot in a rock band that played weekends…mostly local schools…dances…college mixers…and small get-togethers.
Over the years, things changed. My career path required increasing amounts of academic study, there was intervening service time in the military, and there were family commitments. The music part of my life was shelved.
Fast forward to the present. I was finding that I wanted to pick up the guitar again. This time, just for my own enjoyment, not really to play in a band.
I didn’t have the time or desire to travel to meet with an instructor for lessons each week. So, I started to investigate what other options there were for learning the guitar.
I soon discovered that our library had some really good online resources for guitar instruction that were accessible from home, by using my Fountaindale Public Library card. One of these resources is Lynda.com.
If you go to our library’s website, https://www.fountaindale.org/, you will see several tabs toward the upper portion of the webpage. One of the tabs is marked LEARNING & TECH. As you hover your mouse pointer over the tab, a menu will open, and you’ll see the option to select “eResources.” Clicking on that option will take you to our eResources page, where you can find Lynda.com. To make it easier to find, when the eResources page opens, change the “Open a Category” field from “Articles & Research” to “Lifelong Learning.” This will then display resources that will include the ones that have guitar instruction courses.
After looking through the guitar instruction courses on Lynda.com, I settled on Rock Guitar Lessons: Teach Yourself to Play. I thought that would be a good starting point, since I was familiar with that music style.
Jared Meeker is the instructor for this 2 hr 9 min video tutorial. I thought this course would have content that was somewhat familiar, based on the course description on the Lynda.com site: “Rock Guitar: Teach Yourself to Play provides a completely new approach to learning guitar, for students who want to play in the rock style. By starting on the 6th string, you are immediately able to play riffs and licks—the kind of progress that inspires you to continue learning. The videos feature clear well-paced instruction along with close-up examples of fingering and strumming. Find out how to hold your guitar, read music and tablature, play simple and advanced chords, and play different strings and notes together. Instructor and guitar virtuoso Jared Meeker also demos some popular rock and blues licks and tricks, and introduces the E minor and A minor pentatonic scales—5-note scales that are critical to playing rock guitar. Learning guitar has never been easier or more fun. This course is a great choice for today’s beginning guitar students.”
The instructor’s credentials gave me confidence that he would be a good teacher and that proved to be true. The site provided this background sketch: “Jared Meeker is a guitarist, composer, producer, educator, and author who has performed throughout the world. A graduate of the music program at California Institute of the Arts, Jared has taught seminars and classes at music schools, colleges, and workshops across the US. He has authored several books for Alfred Music, been featured in top guitar magazines, and has worked with a wide array of popular music artists in the studio and on stage, having performed at many legendary clubs, festivals, and arenas. Jared has also released several original albums, produced award-winning film soundtracks, and written music for major television networks.
I found the instructor to be personable, very knowledgeable, and a really good teacher.
The format of the course is logical and starts with an introduction to the parts of the guitar, both electric and acoustic. Information on how to hold the guitar and how to adjust amplifier setting follows.
The instructor next covers picking technique, along with arm and wrist position. Information on the left hand positioning and fretting the strings follows, and there is a section on tuning the guitar using an electronic tuner as well as tuning the strings by ear.
Use of split screen images, as shown here, is very helpful in this course because it gives you a better idea of what both the left and right hands are doing.
There is a helpful section on the Basics of Reading Guitar Music in the standard musical staff format as well as tablature (TAB), a graphic method showing how to play notes and chords on the guitar.
The course then moves on to learning the notes on the six strings of the guitar, and also takes a look at counting time as you are playing.
One of the enjoyable features of this course is that the instructor incorporates recognizable songs into the practice segments. These are all approached as examples “in the style of.”
The riff catalog includes practice segments “in the style of” the Green Day song, “When I Come Around,” “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” the bridge section of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the Beatles’ songs, “Money” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and several more. Being able to practice something that sounds like it came from a real song is a plus. I also especially appreciated the part of the course on “power chords,” as these are used extensively in the music of many classic rock bands, such as AC / DC, Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, and others.
In some instances, the practice exercise is in two different parts. Split screen images, as shown here, make it possible to practice either of the parts.
The remaining portions of the course focus on a number of essential skills that help establish a solid foundation for playing rock guitar. Among these skills are:
- Scales (C major, E minor pentatonic, and A minor pentatonic).
- Chords (Six-string E minor (Em), Five-string A7, Four string D7, Six-string E, Five-string A, and Six-string G).
- Classic rock strumming patterns.
- Accidentals (Sharps.Flats, Naturals).
- Playing two notes together / Blues patterns.
- Rock and blues licks and tricks, including note bending.
I found this course very satisfying. Despite being away from the guitar for many years, it was similar to coming back to bike riding after a long time away. Taking the course and practicing showed me that it is possible to enjoy playing the guitar again.
If you’ve been thinking about learning the guitar, you should find this to be a convenient way to begin your journey. Even though it is oriented toward the rock style, you will learn enough of the basics of playing the instrument to establish a good foundation.
Give it a try!