In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
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High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in Santa Maria ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in Santa Barbara
Jump to navigation Jump to search Slack-key guitar is a fingerstyle genre of guitar music that originated in Hawaii. Its name refers to its characteristic open tunings: the English term is a translation of the Hawaiian kī hōʻalu, which means "loosen the [tuning] key". Most slack-key tunings can be achieved by starting with a guitar in standard tuning and detuning or "slacking" one or more of the strings until the six strings form a single chord, frequently G major. In the oral-history account, the style originated from Mexican cowboys in the late 19th century. These paniolo (a Hawaiianization of españoles—"Spaniards") provided guitars, taught the Hawaiians the rudiments of playing, and then left, allowing the Hawaiians to develop the style on their own. Musicologists and historians suggest that the story is more complicated, but this is the version that is most often offered by Hawaiian musicians. Slack-key guitar adapted to accompany the rhythms of Hawaiian dancing and the harmonic structures of Hawaiian music. The style of Hawaiian music that was promoted as a matter of national pride under the reign of King David Kalākaua in the late 19th century combined rhythms from traditional dance meters with imported European forms (for example, military marches), and drew its melodies from chant (mele and oli), hula, Christian hymns (hīmeni), and the popular music brought in by the various peoples who came to the Islands: English-speaking North Americans, Mexicans, Portuguese, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Tahitians, and Samoans. The music did not develop a mainland audience during the Hawaiian music craze of the early 20th century, during which Hawaiian music came to be identified outside Islands with the steel guitar and the ukulele. Slack key remained private and family entertainment, and it was not even recorded until 1946–47, when Gabby Pahinui cut a series of records that brought the tradition into public view. During the 1960s and particularly during the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the 1970s, slack key experienced a surge in popularity and came to be seen as one of the most genuine expressions of Hawaiian spirit, principally thanks to Gabby Pahinui, Atta Isaacs, Leonard Kwan, Sonny Chillingworth, Raymond Kāne, and the more modern styles of younger players such as Keola Beamer, his brother Kapono Beamer, Peter Moon, and Haunani Apoliona. During this period, luthiers such as the Guitar and Lute Workshop in Honolulu specialized in the development and manufacture of guitars custom made to order for slack-key performance. Many currently prominent Hawaiʻi-based players got their starts during the Cultural Renaissance years: Cindy Combs, Ledward Kaapana, George Kahumoku, Jr., his brother Moses Kahumoku, Dennis Kamakahi, Ozzie Kotani, three Pahinui brothers (Bla, Cyril, and Martin), the Emerson Brothers and Owana Salazar. These artists, and slack key in general, have become well known outside Hawaiʻi largely through George Winston's Dancing Cat Records record label, which has most often showcased the music in solo settings. One indication of slack key's increasing visibility beyond the Islands is that the first four winners of the Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Music Album were slack key collections: Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2 in 2005, Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 1 in 2006, Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar—Live from Maui and "Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar – Live in Concert from Maui." Players from outside Hawaiʻi have also taken up the tradition, for example, Chet Atkins (who included slack key pieces on two of his albums), Yuki Yamauchi (a student of Raymond Kāne's and an advocate of Hawaiian music in Japan), pianist George Winston, and Canadian Jim "Kimo" West (perhaps better known as guitarist with "Weird Al" Yankovic). Kī hōʻalu is often characterized by the use of an alternating-bass pattern, usually played by the thumb on the lower two or three strings of the guitar, while the melody is played on the three or four highest strings, using any number of fingers. Many kī hōʻalu players incorporate various embellishments such as harmonics (chimes), the hammer-on, the pull-off, slides, and damping. Slack key compositions exhibit characteristics from indigenous Hawaiian and imported musical traditions. The vamp or turnaround (a repeated figure, usually at the end of a verse) is descended from the hula tradition, and other harmonic and structural features are descended from hīmeni and from the hula kuʻi encouraged by King David Kalakaua. Nearly all slack key requires retuning the guitar strings from the standard EADGBE, and this usually means lowering or "slacking" several strings. The result is most often a major chord, although it can also be a major-seventh chord, a sixth, or (rarely) a minor. There are examples of slack key played in standard tuning, but the overwhelming majority of recorded examples use altered tunings. The most common slack key tuning, called "taro patch," makes a G major chord. Starting from the standard EADGBE, the high and low E strings are lowered or "slacked" to D and the fifth string from A down to G, so the notes become DGDGBD. As the chart below shows, there are also major-chord tunings based on C, F, and D. Another important group of tunings, based on major-seventh chords, is called "wahine". G wahine, for example, starts with taro patch and lowers the third string from G to F♯, making DGDF♯BD. Wahine tunings have their own characteristic vamps (as in, for example, Raymond Kāne's "Punahele" or Gabby Pahinui's 1946 "Hula Medley") and require fretting one or two strings to form a major chord. A third significant group is Mauna Loa tunings, in which the highest pair of strings are a fifth apart: Gabby Pahinui often played in C Mauna Loa, CGEGAE. George Winston has identified fifty slack key tunings Some are only commonly used for a single song, or by particular players. Mike McClellan and George Winston have developed similar schemes that organize the tunings by key and type. The chart below follows their categories and naming conventions. ^ For example, Elizabeth Tatar, "Slack Key Guitar", in Hawaiian Music and Musicians, ed. George S. Kanahele, University Press of Hawaii, 350–360. ISBN 0-8248-0578-X ^ See updated and corrected liner notes to the compilation CD History of Slack Key Guitar, by Harry Soria, Jr., Jay Junker, and George Winston. ^ "Slack key wins first Hawaiian Grammy", by Tim Ryan, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 14, 2005 ^ "'Masters' of the Grammy", by John Burger, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 9, 2006 ^ Derek Pavia (February 12, 2007). "Slack Key Snags Third Hawaiian Grammy". Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. ^ Tatar, "The Technique" and "The Chant Tradition" sections of "Slack Key Guitar" in Hawaiian Music and Musicians ^  George Winston's on-line Short History of Slack Key Guitar, "Chart of Recorded Tunings" ^ "Bio". Kawika. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
Each year, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) complies a global report on musical instrument sales. This report gives us a snapshot of the numbers of people buying guitars, and ownership trends.In 2010, 2.38 million guitars were sold in the US, and these had a retail value of $839 million.Sales of acoustic guitars increased (6.9%), while electric guitar popularity declined (-2.1%). This trend reflected changes in the 2010 Billboard top 200, in which acoustic guitar strummers appeared at nearly twice the frequency of rock/metal bands. Similarly, the trend in amplifier purchase moved away from high-end valve amps, and towards smaller, less expensive combos.The average price of a guitar fell, but further analysis led those compiling the report to speculate that changes to were mainly due to new players entering the market, and established players not adding to their high-end guitar collections, rather than guitar prices falling due to the availability of cheaper imports.Here in the United Kingdom, we are generally two years behind our American cousins. However, UK sales figures reflected the currently depressed state of our economy: guitar sales were down on 2009 by 13.1% in terms of revenue, and 10.6% in sales volumes. Nevertheless, in 2010, £159.69 million was spent in the UK, on more than 768,000 guitars! That's a staggering number of guitars, and does not include private sales of pre-owned instruments.Sales trends between 2007 and 2010 show a steady decline in electric, and bass guitar sales. Conversely acoustic guitar sales over the same period have increased. Despite a fairly uniform fall in sales of all types of guitar during 2010, the popularity of acoustics is still growing. In 2007, acoustics accounted for 52.8% of all guitars sold, and this has risen steadily to 57% of all guitars sold in 2010.Elsewhere in the media, there have been pockets of speculation that the rising popularity of acoustic guitar music is both a catalyst for, and indication of more women taking up the instrument. Playing the guitar is an almost exclusively male past-time, so manufactures and retailers are delighted by the possibility of rising female interest: the size of their market could double. Meanwhile, manufacturers of electric guitars appear to be hoping for the emergence of a new Guitar Hero, on the scale of Hendrix or Clapton, to save their declining market share.As a guitar teacher, the report is very encouraging. It shows that the potential number of students is vast, despite the continuing UK recession. It enables us to check that we are in step with the dominance of acoustic guitar music, and adapt if necessary. It shows us that there is a need to encourage, and support women to take-up the guitar.I cannot help but feel that the NAMM should have a far greater interest in supporting guitar teachers. We have a part to play in ensuring that their customers return to up-grade and expand their guitar ownership. It is my firm belief that the majority of those 768,000 guitars will never get played, and merely function as ornaments to decorate homes.Maybe the new Hendrix is out there, and just needs a few guitar lessons to set him (or her) on the path that will reinvigorate music and the music industry.
In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety. High on the list is "Am I too old to learn guitar?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let's see...off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period. That is the truth. However, as with everything else in life, the devil is in the details!The Correct Approach Is EssentialYes, anyone can learn at any age if they use the correct method to learn the guitar. The bad news is that virtually every guitar method on the market is severely deficient in the information that will guarantee success for everyone. Only the very talented and the very dedicated can learn from the many flawed guitar methods on the market today. The average guitar student is in for a tough time.This is because the biggest obstacles to learning guitar are physical obstacles, meaning, getting your fingers to actually make movements they have never made before, and getting them to do them smoothly and quickly. What all guitar methods are failing to address is that when you learn guitar you are really attempting to teach your fingers, hands, and arms new abilities. You are not really learning "guitar", you are actually engaged in "body learning", so, you must know and follow the well established laws of how the body (your muscles, nerves, and brain actually learn to do new and unfamiliar movements.For instance, one of the laws of body learning is that all movements must be practiced extremely slowly, with great focus on relaxation throughout the body. If you do not do this, if you allow your shoulders to tense when your fingers are stretching, that tension will stay in the shoulders and be reinforced every time you practice. It will feel "normal" to you and you will not know your shoulders are tense. All you will know is that you cannot control your fingers.This happens to a very large percentage of people of every age who try to learn guitar. It will tend to happen more with adult students and seniors because they have had more years to acquire tension in their bodies even apart from practicing guitar. However, if a student knows how to practice the necessary finger movements in a way that does not allow excess tension into the hands, arms, shoulders, and the rest of the body, they will be successful at learning to play no matter how old they are.Learning According To the Body; Not the GuitarGuitar instruction is a disorganized, unscientific, and (compared to piano or violin) a young and immature profession. Many, perhaps most, "guitar teachers" are not teachers; they are guitar players. There is a vast difference. Guitar players know how to play the guitar; guitar teachers should know how to cause other people to play the guitar. However, most of the people I have met who have failed at guitar have taken lessons for years. They were told they had no talent, when the fact is their teacher had no knowledge of how to teach. Unfortunately, such "teachers" often write the method books that the unsuspecting guitar aspirant buys and places their trust in!Such books are often mere collections of guitar information, pages full of chord diagrams, scales, songs, etc., containing no information about how to actually get your fingers to be able to do these things. Worse, the information and exercises are given according to how the guitar works, not how the human body and the human hand work.For instance, all guitar books begin by teaching you chords or notes in the first position at the first fret. By custom, the area of the guitar fingerboard furthest from the body is called the "first" position. So, everyone assumes that a student should learn that first. The problem is that this requires the arm to extend farthest away from the body, which requires the deltoid muscle in the shoulder to work hard to support that weight. This effort (especially in the beginner or older student) will inevitably cause muscle tension throughout the body, even to the point of the student holding their breath! After that, everything locks up and the student will be unable to control their fingers, or will struggle to control them, which is really no control at all. They will become either a failure at guitar, or a handicapped player.Students will suffer greatly from these flawed guitar learning methods, and being insecure of their own potential to begin with, will blame themselves. It does not have to be this way. There is a method of learning guitar that is scientific and based on the laws of body learning. It works for everyone. It is called "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar", and you can find out more about it by following the link at the end of this article.I wish you all success in your sincere desire to learn to play this most beautiful and rewarding of musical instruments.
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