Back in the middle of August, I said I was going to try and teach myself guitar using computer based and online tutorials. Initially, I said I'd report back in a month.
Unfortunately, progress has been slow. If I had been trying to match Ortis's achievement, I think I would have failed miserably! However, I thought I'd better show you where I am... prepare to be disappointed!
Mostly I've been using the Learn To Play feature in GarageBand. I think it's really good. Each lesson starts with the tutor taking you through the stuff you need to know (chords, strumming patterns, guitar tabs etc.) before giving you a backing track to play along to. So here are three videos, with some commentary. All constructive criticism gratefully received.
As I listened back to this video, I became aware of the way I was strumming. It was a chunka-chunka-chunka-pause, chunka-chunka-chunka-pause, chunka-chunka-chunka-pause,... style. The pause happened every time I changed chord. Clearly this isn't good. Yet I was completely unaware that I was doing it until I heard this video. I guess this is one place a where a face to face tutor would score over a virtual tutor as this would have been picked up much earlier.
A few weeks ago, I was browsing the Guitar Savvy site and I realise that when forming the D minor chord, my thumb was slipping down and lying along the neck instead of staying at right angles to it. Again, not good and again, probably would have been spotted by a face-to-face tutor. Another bad habit that has to be unlearned. And again, the pause in the strumming pattern just about every chord change. :-(
Disastrous! Constant, driving strum - fail! Muted strings to give cool, percussive sound in verse part - fail! Elbow not tucked in to avoid awkward wrist position - fail! Add to that my inability to play at anything like the full speed and the extreme pain caused by trying to play these power chords and we are talking unbelievably pathetic fail. Sigh!
So, am I learning anything? Am I getting better? I think so. I do like the GarageBand lessons. I especially like the way you can slow the playback speed down until you learn what you're doing. You can also put sections on repeat to practise them over and over again. It works. I'm enjoying myself. I think I'm getting better.
A feature that I haven't used yet, which may help me improve, is that GarageBand can record you playing along to the backing track. Given how much I learned listening to these videos, I think this is a feature I will have to use from now on.
Finally, I want to mention the guitar I'm playing. It's the one Daughter Number 2 built at Bailey Guitars - the one I won from Rock Radio. It is gorgeous to look at, sounds great (when played by someone that knows what they are doing) and easy to play - much easier to play that the Squire Stratocaster that I practise on. I cannot recommend Bailey Guitars highly enough.
Update: Just posted some reflections on the learning process on my Education blog.