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 San Marcos ?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 San Diego
Did you know that when you picked up your acoustic guitar, you're picking up an instrument with 5,000 years of history attached to it? Acoustic guitars are descendants of stringed instruments that were found in a variety of cultures thousands and thousands of years ago. As civilizations merged and the world became smaller, the guitar began taking on a unified shape and style. Since then, there has been a lineal evolution of several hundreds of years of instruments that can be directly compared to today's acoustic guitars.The Medieval PeriodDuring the Medieval Period of European history, there were several different forms of guitars. These guitars had between three and five strings and were much smaller than the guitars we know today. There were variations of these instruments which had pairs of strings, known as courses. The popular guitars of this period were commonly separated into two groupings. The first, the Guitarra Latina was likely developed from Spain, while the Guitarra Morisca was brought to Spain by the Moorish culture.The Renaissance and BeyondWhile in the Middle Ages, the guitar instruments were not terribly popular, being overshadowed by other contemporary instruments, in the Renaissance the guitar began to take a real hold. It was in Italy in 1779 that the first six string guitar was created. Gaetano Vinaccia created this instrument in Naples. Following that, the man known as the "Father of Modern Guitar" made his permanent mark on the course of the guitar and how it would be designed and played.Antonio de Torres Jurado made many key changes that in essence from the creation of what is known today as the modern classical guitar. Among these changes were the design elements that are recognizable as an acoustic or classical guitar today. The body was made larger and wider to help make sound travel farther and be louder, while the construction was also sturdier, more complete and more technically savvy.The Acoustic GuitarThe instrument that Antonio de Torres created and made popular was the Classical guitar. The acoustic guitar is commonly misinterpreted as being the same as the Classical guitar. This is not true, there are many key differences in the design of these two separate guitars. The most important of which is that the acoustic guitar has steel strings, while the Classical guitar is strung with nylon strings.The body was also made larger and sturdier still. The acoustic guitar was much better for performing in larger areas as it was increasingly louder than the Classical guitar; the two guitars also produce different ranges and textures of sounds which various styles of music correspond to.The acoustic guitar was actually developed in America from European immigrants. The last major development of the acoustic guitar is the electrical-acoustic guitar. These acoustic guitars can be plugged into an amplifier for increased volume or can be left unplugged and played as is.So next time you pick up an acoustic guitar, remember the history you hold in your hands.
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.
One of the first challenges faced by the advancing guitar player is learning a core group of basic guitar chords. Why is it so important to learn these basic chords? Chords form the backbone of most rock and pop songs, and provide the harmonic accompaniment to the melody and instrumental solos.Rhythm guitar based on basic chords provides many of the most memorable rock riffs... think AC/DC's "Back in Black" or The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". What's really amazing is that by learning no more than 10 to 15 basic guitar chords, you will be equipped to play thousands of rock and pop songs!First let's establish the definition of a chord. A chord is three or more different musical notes played together. In the case of the guitar, this means that at least three strings are strummed or plucked simultaneously to sound three or more notes. Since the guitar has six strings, the maximum numbers of notes in a guitar chord is six. All chords can be placed in one of three groups based on the musical structure of the chord: Major, Minor, or Seventh. Each of these chord groups has its own "sound" or "feel". Major chords sound stable and complete. Minor chords can evoke a more somber or pensive mood, and Seventh chords are jazzy and somewhat incomplete sounding.There is no standard list of "basic guitar chords" that every one agrees to. However, there is general agreement that there is a list of somewhere between 8 and 18 basic guitar chords (open string) that every guitarist must know cold. These chords are used in all musical styles from rock and pop to country, jazz, and classical. No matter where you are on your guitar-playing path, you should take the time to learn and master the basic chords. Getting these right will ensure you have the basic tools and skills to learn many songs and increase your playing enjoyment.So what are the basic guitar chords? Our basic stable includes the major and minor chords from four common musical keys, A,G,C, and D. They are played as "open chords", that is at least one string in the chord is not fretted (pressed down with a finger). Open chords are easier to learn and play than more advanced chords such as Barre chords, or complex chords further up the guitar neck. Our list of basic major and minor chords is: A Major (or A), A Minor (or Am), C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, GThese chords can be best learned as chord "families" (by key) that can be combined into great-sounding chord sequences that make up lots of popular songs. Using this chord family approach is much more interesting and useful than just memorizing a bunch of chords in random order!These chords grouped by chord family (key) are as follows:A Family (Key of A): A, D, ED Family (Key of D): D, Em, G, AG Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, EmC Family (Key of C): C, Dm, Em, F, GTips for Learning the Basic Chords:1. Pick a Chord Family and master it. This will give you quick success and let you play great sounding progressions right away. 2. Use a Guitar Chord Chart as a reference tool. A chord chart shows each chord as an easy to read "chord diagram" with exact finger positions. See this example of a chart of basic guitar chords.3. Find the chords and lyrics for an easy song that is based on the chord family so you can apply your skills. Many great songs are based on only three chords!4. Ensure each string sounds right. Take care to make sure that each string is sounding clearly, and that only the strings that should be played are played.5. Practice, practice, practice! Every day, practice continually change from one chord to another until you can do it rapidly. Learn the chord families one at a time.6. Master all the basic chords first. Only then move on to Barre chords and other more complex chords. First things first! 7. Expand with 7th chords. As a next step you can easily expand on your basic chord knowledge by adding 7th and minor 7th chords based on the nine basic major and minor chords.8. Have fun using your new skills! Enjoy your musical ability by applying it to learning a small set of 5-10 songs you know really well and can confidently play at any time.Copyright 2005 Peter Bussey of http://www.guitar-players-toolbox.com This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and the resource box are included.
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