Learning From the Internet!
I wanted to create a blog about the path I took to learn the basics of the guitar to where I am now. My journey isn’t anything special, but I think it applies to our #EDTC300 learning project.
I took up the guitar around 13 years old. My sister and I took guitar lessons together at Long and McQuade, here in Regina. Back then I didn’t care too much about really learning the guitar as an instrument. I just wanted to be able to play along to songs by my favourite band at the time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So, naturally, I got my guitar teacher to teach me to play classic riffs like Californication, Otherside, Tell Me Baby, Scar tissue, etc. Back then I wasn’t very good at playing them, but you could hear what I was trying to do and I was satisfied with that. This went on for about a year, then I eventually got bored and put the guitar down – it really frustrates me that I did that.
High School Guitar!
Flash forward to me at about 15. I was in the second semester of Gr.10 and a new class was offered that focused around learning the guitar. Classic 15 year old me saw this as an opportunity to get an easy grade more than anything, so I signed up for it. I took this class, and the following ones, throughout grades 10-12. Unfortunately, I made minimal progress because I didn’t work on my skill. I was able to play the same old simple riffs that I already knew and was able to play the first position of the pentatonic scale up and down faster than most of my peers. That was satisfying for me so I didn’t touch a guitar unless it was in that guitar class. Again, this frustrates me to write that about myself.
Several years go by, I graduated high school in June of 2011, and I didn’t touch a guitar until August of 2014. I know that as a fact because I had a massive surge of inspiration to get better at the guitar after I attended my first Craven Country Jamboree, now known as Country Thunder. No, I didn’t go there for the reason that most people my age went there, I went to Craven for the music! This was when I was first getting into country music and it was an excellent lineup for a first time attendee. I got to see Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Brett Eldridge, Joe Nichols, and Keith Urban, among many other lesser known music acts. Needless to say, I was blown away by the music and, within a few weeks, I bought my first acoustic guitar to learn some country songs.
I turned to YouTube to teach me how to play. It started out simply as typing into the search bar “how to play [insert song]” After doing that enough times I started to notice common channels that I would end up on. The big two, for me, were papastache102 and Marty Music. These guys had tons of tutorials for my favourite songs. The tutorials typically instructed me to form chords around G, C, Em, and D, changing at these times, and strumming this specific way. If the song happened to be in a different key, I’d be instructed to slap a capo on a fret and perform the same old chords, changing in these specific spots, strumming this specific pattern.
This method of learning got me along fine for a while. I was having fun playing along to songs like It Goes Like This, Drink a Beer, Beat of the Music, and I could even handle some of Keith Urban’s, Somewhere In My Car. There were tons of other songs I had played and loved but, like before, I got bored. I stopped challenging myself and I put my guitar down once again.
Somewhere around May of 2017 I had bought a well-reviewed second hand electric guitar because inspiration had hit me once again. During that time I was working as an Instructional Assistant at St. Joan of Arc school in Regina. Before working there I had been told about that the principal sometimes walks the halls playing the guitar. I thought that that was awesome and the first thing I noticed when I met him was his easy going personality and, as the rumours had it, he had two guitars sitting in his office. It didn’t take long before I got to see him play while he did supervision over a lunch hour or a recess. He even played for the entire school at the church a few blocks away. Again, I was so inspired to get better! From what I gather, he was more of a rhythm player, and for some reason I had set out to learn lead guitar playing. This is where I started to really take notice of Brad Paisley’s guitar playing and to be able to play like him is my ultimate goal. I mean, just look at this:
Video Credit: fretboardmusic
This time I made sure to start off slow. I took the time to find resources that taught me about the theory of guitar playing. This is where I found YouTubers like Paul Davids and Music is Win. I still watch these two faithfully because they teach more than just “put your fingers here and strum your pick like this.” They teach about how you can use theory to play your own music. I have learned so much about music theory because of these two resources and I would highly recommend them if you are looking to really learn the instrument of guitar.
I have been playing faithfully every day for about a year. I think guitar playing is just a habit now. I don’t even think about it, I just pick my guitar up and play. Because of this, I can confidently say I am a much better player than I ever was before. Depending on the day, I may play just to play, or I might play to a song, I might learn a solo, or practice a specific skill – like Travis Picking. I still use the two resources that I had mentioned and I have recently discovered Six String Country which has helped me learn theory to play the blues, theory to play country, and how to play specific songs. One specific song I did learn from Six String Country was Brad Paisley’s, She’s Everything.
What I Think of Learning Online
Learning a skill online is manageable. I’ve done it. There are so many resources out there that can help you along the way. I think that if you have the patience and are very honest with yourself, you can make it happen. The part that I struggle with is not having any external feedback. Because of this, I’ve had to really break things down to know where I’m going wrong and, conversely, if I had had a face to face teacher, I could have been told what to change. This may not be evident from the story I’d just told because I have obviously gotten better at playing the guitar using online resources rather than my face to face ones. Though, I think that’s more to do with gaining internal motivation along my path rather than other factors. One day I am going to invest in a face to face teacher, but I know that I can still get a lot of learning done online. I am confident that the internet can offer me knowledge for a lifetime!