Guitar for Beginners

guitar for beginners

Guitar For Beginners –  The Basics

Starting to learn guitar can be fun although it can seem quite a daunting task to begin with. I decided I wanted  to learn  guitar when I was about 13. That was many, many years ago now and it was a wonderful feeling.

I couldn’t get much out of it but it was still fun. Since then I have taught many people to learn how to play guitar and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The last person I taught was my son. He was an outstanding student and his band eventually played the Arena, at the NEC in Birmingham, Uk in the National Youth Rock Band Festival.

It was remarkable how quickly he managed to learn guitar and apart from ability, the single biggest attribute that helped him to learn how to play guitar was hard work.
So, if you are just starting or thinking of starting, maybe I could give you just a few very simple pointers to help you to successfully learn guitar in  my new website which teaches guitar for beginners.
online guitar lessons

Firstly we should consider the type of guitar and particularly the neck width and the strings.The most challenging part of learning to play guitar is being able to get enough pressure with your fingers on the fretboard to hold the strings down enough to get a clear note, rather than a buzzing, twanging sound.

Apart from practise, one of the keys is having a guitar with a narrow neck, plus lightweight strings. This is one of the key factors when you play guitar. To learn guitar, you must have an instrument that is as familiar to you as your own hands.

So often I see a person trying to learn on a guitar with quite a broad neck and with heavy gauge strings. In that case you need very strong fingers and a broad grip with long fingers. Get yourself a guitar that you can comfortanly get your hand around.

When you first start to learn guitar, It is worth spending some time trying a few out and getting a ‘feel’ for them. A guitar is rather like a good pair of shoes – it should feel comfortable. An essential part of being able to play guitar is the ‘feel’. Never mind what it looks like. Comfort is crucial. It should feel ok and not awkward if you are going to successfully learn how to play the guitar.

Don’t worry about trying out several in a guitar shop. It is expected and in fact, it is part of the culture of buying a guitar. Also, don’t worry about price. An expensive guitar is no guarantee that it will be the right one for you. When you first learn how to play the guitar, you don’t really appreciate the subtle differences between a $100 guitar or a $1000 gibson guitar.

 Yamaha guitar

I have found Yamaha to be a good accoustic manufacturer. They have a lovely, strong, mellow sound and a good action (the way in which the strings press against the fretboard). Also, the strings should be as close to the fretboard as possible, which is usually the case with Yamaha. This one factor alone will make it easier to play guitar than almost any other.

The lightweight, soft feel of nylon strings on a classical guitar are often good for a beginner, especially girls or people with short fingers and it is much easier to learn guitar if the strings are easy to hold down!

Next, you have to learn to get a few notes out of your guitar. At this stage, don’t worry about musical competence. Just keep trying until you get clear notes from your guitar and keep working hard to learn guitar skills. After all, no one said that to guitar for beginners would be a piece of cake!

And then there is practise. You have to play guitar as often as possible. When I first started to learn guitar, I probably practised about 3-4 hours daily and at first, the tips of my fingers hurt like mad but after a while, the skin hardened and the discomfort went away.
learning to play the guitar

Chords should be simple. Start with G, E, C and D. Then go on to Em and Am and then you will have the chords that you need for most things you want to play. Once you have got the hang of the basic chord positions you will have taken the biggest step forward if you are to successfully master guitar for beginners.

If you are going to learn  guitar it would be a good idea for you to keep all the above points in mind:

And then there are all the questions that need answering:

Guitar For Beginners: FAQ

 Q. How do you tune a guitar?

A. There are several methods when you learn how to play guitar. The traditional method which is still the most common with those who play guitar regularly is by playing the first string (E) at the 5th fret and tuning the second string (A) to that note. You then do the same with the 2nd and 3rd strings, then with the 3rd and 4th strings. (So far you have tuned E, A, D, G). On the 4th string you hold down at the 4th fret and tune the 5th string (B) to this and finally you hold the 5th string down at the 5th fret again and tune the last string to this note. Now you have learned the basic method of tuning as part of the essential guitar for beginners.

Q. What about other methods?

A. You can buy pitch pipes. These are either metal or the less expensive plastic type. There are 6 little pipes in a block and each one plays a different note: E, A, D, G, B, E. They are a great portable way to tune for anyone who wants to learn  guitar. Also,you can buy a range of electronic tuning devices or if you have another instrument, such as a keyboard or piano, you  can play the note and tune your guitar to it.

Q. Once I have mastered the chord positions, what techniques should I use to play the chords?

A. You have 2 basic methods. Strumming or picking. Strumming is where you ‘stroke’ the strings upwards and downwards and picking is where you play each note individually with the middle 3 fingers, while the thumb plays a sort of baseline. Picking is very similar to scratching yourself, except that our fingers are ‘scratching the strings’! When you first learn how to play the guitar the tendency is to strum downwards only, which is fine at first, but as you develop and learn how to play the guitar more competently, you should work hard to develop the upstroke also, meaning that you strum down AND up.

You have to remember though, if you are going to be successful at learning how to play guitar, that ou don’t always play ALL the strings. For G and E you play all 6 strings. For C you play just the bottom 5 strings and for D you just play the bottom 4 strings.  This is important if you are going to learn how to play the guitar successfully. If you don’t play the correct strings, the chords won’t sound right

Q. Why do the notes sound dull and make a sort of buzzing sound when I play them?

A. Because you aren’t holding the string down correctly. Either you are not putting enough pressure on the string which could mean your grip on the neck isn’t right (try shifting your hand round more) or you are not pressing the string down in the middle of the fret and are too near to the fret bar. When you learn to play guitar, this part is a matter of practise. Once you have practised enough you will be able to play guitar more successfully.

Q. Are there any accessories I can buy to help me add variety?

A. Well, with guitar for beginners,  the first thing is to get to grips with the basics. However, there are one or two extras that might interest the person who is learning to play guitar. Firstly there is the plectrum. A plectrum can be quite a helpful item for the person who wants to play guitar. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours as well as materials. The most common are made from nylon or plastic and some are sort of tear shaped whilst others are more triangular. When you are learning how to play guitar, though, a plectrum gives you the option of making the sound that you get from your guitar quite different.

Also, the plectrum takes some of the strain from the strumming fingers and makes it easier in the early days when you first learn how to play the guitar. Getting the right hand action and using the finger nails and thumb nail is a technique that can be tricky, at first, so a plectrum makes strumming easier when you first learn guitar. Besides, they look really cool, too!

A Capo is another device favoured by many guitarists, new or not so new. A Capo is a D shaped clip that fits around the neck and shortens the length of the strings and so, the chords you play are higher. For the person who is learning how to play the guitar and sing at the same time, a Capo helps you to play chords in the jey that you prefer. When you learn to play guitar, you generally want to focus on how to play guitar and not have to worry about changing the chords you are using in order to find the right key. So A Capo can be invaluable when you first learn guitar.

 

Four benefits of learning to play an instrument

learning to play an instrument

If you are looking for a way to help your children, or yourself to become a better student, this article is for you. We look at three benefots of how learning to play an instrument like the piano can help your brain, and enable you to enjoy life more.

What the studies tell us

Over the past few decades, there have been several studies carried out to see if playing an instrument is beneficial. The emergence of new research methods, and the ability to look at activity in the brain has enabled people interested in this field to make great progress.

Today, we have a far better understanding of what learning to play an instrument does for the human brain, and body. For many years, people have believed that being able to play a musical instrument is beneficial.

They have noticed that people who play regularly are happier, more active and seem to live longer than those that do not play. However, unfortunately this has only provided anecdotal evidence that playing the piano or another instrument is beneficial.

BENEFIT 1 – The brains of instrument players are more active

But, that has now changed. By scanning the brains of players and non-players, and comparing the results scientists can now prove conclusively that playing music is beneficial for the brain.

There is now irrefutable proof that the brains of people that play the piano, violin, or a list of other instruments, are better developed than those that do not.

Learning to play an instrument

BENEFIT 2- Music players learn languages faster

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings is how playing music improves the brains ability to learn new languages. When you play certain instruments, in particular, the piano the centres of the brain that are used when you learn a new language are stimulated.

This means that those areas are strengthened.  The brain is a bit like your muscles, the more you use it the stronger it gets. So, if you stimulate the language learning parts of your brain by playing an instrument, when you want to learn French for your holidays – it is much easier to do so.

BENEFIT 3 – Instrument players stay mentally healthy

If you want to protect yourself from, or reduce the effects of, mental illnesses learning to play a musical instrument could be just what you need. Studies show that people who play regularly suffer from far less depression than those that don’t. There are also indications that playing an instrument can help to reduce the impact of ADHD or epilepsy.

There are currently studies going on to see whether playing music can help people who are suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar conditions, to cope better.

BENEFIT 4 – Learning an instrument can slow dementia

Last, but by no means least there is growing evidence that playing the piano can slow the progress of dementia. In addition, if sufferers learnt to play as children there is a good chance they can start playing again as adults.

For someone suffering from Dementia rediscovering the joy of music has a dramatic, and positive, affect on their overall well-being. Playing keeps them occupied and happy for hours each day, which helps to keep them safe and gives carers a much needed break.

The next question you should ask is how do I find cheap piano lessons near me, well there are plenty of ways, using a directory, looking for online adverts, you can even learn to play online without leaving the comfort of your own home. A site such as www.aboutpianolessons.com would be a good place to start your search.

Do You Insure your Musical Instruments?

musical instrument insurance

Musical Instruments can range in price from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds. If you rely on your instrument for your living and it got stolen or damaged, could you afford to repair it?

What are the options?

1. Don’t bother insuring it at all and take the risk. Nothing is safe these days, especially if you are taking your instrument out and about and you need it to earn a living, how would you manage if it got stolen?

2. Try and insure it under your home insurance policy. This is certainly possible, under the personal possessions section, although if you are using it to earn a living such as playing in an orchestra, they may not want to cover you. There is also the question of how much it is insured for and it can work out to be very expensive.

3. The third option is to find a specialist musical instrument insurer and take out music insurance. There are a few out there, for example musicguard and insure4music.co.uk, but I am going to take a look at allianzmusicalinsurance.co.uk

instru lineAlliance Musical Instrument Insurance

Firstly who are Allianz? Well they are a very large International Insurance Company and have been a leading specialist music insurer since the 1960’s. Over that time they have insured over 100,000 musicians from all walks of life.

However they don’t just provide cover for violins and trumpets etc. Cover is available to retailers, music teachers, DJ’s Studio producers and Buskers.

There policy offers the highest protection. They cover professional use, accidental damage, loss or theft. Cover is provided whilst in an unattended vehicle and there is no excess to pay in the event of a claim.

You can choose from UK or worldwide, or premise only cover and the settlement is new for old with depreciation covered as the result of a repair.

They offer one month’s free cover if you apply online together with interest free instalments.

Cover starts from only a couple of pounds per month.

If your instrument is your life, you should definitely get a quote from them. If you are not sure about insurance, perhaps the best place to start is thatsinsurance. They will also be able to point you in the right direction.

The Boston Piano

Boston

The Boston piano brand is very popular throughout the world. The Boston is a relatively inexpensive piano that is suitable for all kinds of players. Despite its relatively low cost it is actually a top class piano.

Steinway & Sons Make the Boston Piano

The best piano makers in the world, Steinway & Sons designed the Boston. Obviously, the fact that they designed it helps people to trust the Boston brand.

PIANO_Boston_1

However, their trust is not misplaced, Steinway ensure that the same level of care is applied to the Boston piano manufacturing process as is applied to the manufacture of their more expensive concert pianos. The materials used for the components are different, so the Boston does have a different sound, but this means that it lends itself to many different kinds of music.

The Boston was first launched in 1992 in an effort to ensure that everyone has the chance to experience the magic of playing on a Steinway Piano. It is quickly becoming Steinway’s best selling piano, with over 5,000 being made each year.

The Kawai factory in Hamamatsu, Japan and the factory in Karawan, Indonesia both make the Boston Piano and do so to exacting standards. Both factories are equipped with a state of the art manufacturing line that enables them to produce pianos relatively quickly without compromising on build quality.

MTNATour_RimBending2

In 2009, Steinway launched their Performance Edition Boston. This piano includes a grand inner rim made from maple, which results in a different tone that, as the name suggests, makes it more suitable for performances.

You can buy vertical Boston pianos in three sizes or grand Boston pianos in five sizes. Their versatility means that the best music schools including Aspen, Bowdoin, Brevard, Ravinia, and Tanglewood all use these pianos.

The Best Place to Buy a Boston Piano

To find the best selection of Boston pianos you need to find a Steinway dealer. Occasionally you will find a used Boston piano for sale. If you are lucky, you will find a firm in your area that will allow you to hire and try one in your own home before actually buying one.

Boston upright

Wherever you buy your Boston, you need to check the instrument. The best way to do this is to play it.

Think about aftercare and support

Try to find a firm or seller that can offer you a good aftercare service. Pianos are sensitive instruments that need to be taken care of. You need to have your piano tuned and cleaned on a regular basis, which is why buying your piano from a dealer makes sense.

Consider buying a used Boston piano

The fact that the piano has been on the market for over twenty years now means that there are an increasing number of used Boston pianos out there. Because they are solidly built they make a great first piano, so it is always worth checking out the classifieds to see if you can buy a second hand one. Sometimes people will give away a piano to anyone who will pick it up from them. They just need the space and want rid of the piano, so will happily give one away.

Joan Baez – The Protest Years

joan-baez-sixties

Joan Baez is not just a musician she is also a political icon. The artistry of her music comes second to her political conscience. Joan Baez uses music to communicate and promote important political ideals. She could be described as the mother of female singer songwriters she was one of the first women to have the songs that she wrote taken seriously and used by her peers.

She started her career as an activist in the 1950s after she heard Martin Luther King Jnr speak. They later became friends and she participated in many of the protests he organised.

First album

Her first album entitled simply Joan Baez was released on the Vanguard label in 1960. It was released after her fantastic performance at the Newport Festival the previous year. Surprisingly, it took only 4 days to record that album with some tracks being put down in just one take.

 

 

Joan Baez Vol. 2, released in 1961, was the album that truly lit a fire under her career. On that album, her crystal-clear soprano singing voice reinterpreted traditional folk tunes accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The album got onto the bestseller list and made Baez a minor celebrity; it reached No. 13 on the Billboard album chart, and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Folk Performance category. The Greenbriar Boys played on two of the tracks on the album.

Volume 2

In 1963, she famously performed We Shall Overcome at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Throughout the rest of the 60s, she sang that song at several other protests.

Joan Baez 5 released in 1965 is the album with which she publicised the message of the Greenwich Village Movement. The album had far fewer traditional folk tunes on it than her previous albums. At this point, her protest work started to take over her life. In 1967, she went to prison twice and she was a frequent participant in anti-war rallies.

album 5

Joan Baez became the poster girl for protest songs, sadly this lead to her writing very little non-protest related work during the next few years. However, when you consider that folk music has for centuries recorded the struggles of ordinary people Joan Baez during that period was being true to the roots of folk music.

Joan Baez did not just protest against the war, she took physical action too. In 1972, she joined a peace delegation on a trip to North Vietnam. While there, she was caught up in the Christmas bombing of Hanoi.

Later she also protested against abuses of human rights by the communists in Vietnam. Joan Baez was instrumental in setting up the US branch of Amnesty International. In 2011, the organisation honoured her by setting up the Joan Baez awards.

Joan-Baez

Today, Joan Baez is still inspiring new generations to use music to make political statements. She still speaks up for those who normally do not have a voice and still tours with her protest songs still making up a significant percentage of her repertoire.

Why buy a Gibson Guitar?

gibson Guitar

There are several reasons to buy a Gibson guitar and every year thousands of people throughout the world do so. Gibson has been making guitars for over 100 years now. Orville Gibson sent up the Gibson Corporation in 1896.

At first, they only made Mandolins, but in 1919, they started to make guitars, which were becoming more popular, so represented a bigger market. The firm had the expertise to make guitars because from the start they made custom instruments including harp guitars.

A reputation for quality

Gibson has a well-deserved reputation for making good quality instruments. When you buy a Gibson guitar, you know you are buying a guitar that will sound good and that will last.

Durability

There are even a few Gibson guitars from the 1930s still in use today. The oldest known Gibson instrument is a harp guitar from 1906, so there is no doubt that instruments made by Gibson are built to last.

collection of gibsons

Affordable guitars

Despite being top quality Gibson guitars are far from the most expensive on the market. They represent true value for money. In addition, the range of guitars they sell is amazing.

A huge choice of guitar styles

It really does not matter what style of music you play you will find a Gibson guitar to suit you. As a company, Gibson has continued to innovate, so produces guitars with cutting-edge technology built into them.

feature-1977_Gibson_RD_Custom

Great support and aftercare

In addition, the support and after-care you get from Gibson is second to none. They still sell the majority of their instruments via an official distributor network. Shops and suppliers in that network all adhere to high standards of customer service.

gibson-l4-1930-sb-full-front

Where to Buy a Gibson Guitar

Years ago if you wanted to buy Gibson guitar you had to find a music shop that was Gibson authorised dealer. Unfortunately, there are not that many music shops left on the UK’s High Streets and the same is happening in other countries. Fortunately, a number of official Gibson dealers now sell online.

How to buy a Gibson online

The fact that they sell online means that they are able to offer a wider range of Gibson guitars. By shopping online, you often get a better choice than you would if you went to a High Street store.

In addition, you are able to shop around and find the Gibson guitar you want for the best price. Those websites that are authorised Gibson dealers usually state this is the case on their website. If possible, buy your guitar from an unauthorised dealer that has a website. This will ensure that you are buying a genuine Gibson guitar and that you can benefit from their brilliant after sales service.

Taking care of your Gibson guitar

There is a big market for second hand Gibson guitars. The fact that they are well made makes them great used instruments. If you look after your guitar you will be able to get a good price for it when you are ready to buy your next instrument.

Folk Music and why they produce great live acts

Folk Music Produces Great Live Acts

People are moved by music that has soul. Everyone loves music, especially powerful music because it can uplift people.

For centuries, folk music has been the music of working class people who sing it to share their experience of life with the world. It has strong traditions that are passed from generation to generation.

Folk music with soul

Folk performers have strong feelings about their music and this comes over in the way in which they perform. Their audiences are uplifted when they see them perform live, which is one reason people enjoy live folk events so much.

A chance to sing along

It is very rare that you will go to a folk gig and not see the audience really engaged. Most people sing along and dance. This is the case regardless of the genre of folk being played or the age of the audience.

A huge choice of styles and genres

Another reason folk music engages is that a wide variety of instruments is used. This means that the melodies produced are rich and complicated giving folk music, especially live performances, a unique feel. This is part of the reason folk music appeals to such a wide range of ages and cuts across classes. People from all kinds of musical backgrounds end up getting involved in the folk scene because it gives them the chance to play their instrument in a different way and stretch themselves.

The change to get close to the band

Folk music is often performed at small venues giving the performance a very intimate feel, which audiences love. Even better is the fact that these small venues often come in the form of a pub, so the audience can enjoy a pint whilst listening. It is not unusual for folk musicians to perform off stage amongst the audience. For the audience this is engaging and makes it more likely that they will join in.

Good music and exciting dance

In the UK, many folk bands include dance as part of their performance. Recently traditional dance has enjoyed a renaissance because of folk bands touring with traditional dance troupes. The sound of the dancers’ feet complements the rhythm of the music and gives the whole gig an extra layer of energy and buzz. In fact, recently, clog dancing has undergone such a renascence that traditional clog makers cannot keep up with demand.

The best way to experience folk music

No matter what your background or your current musical tastes you will love live folk music. It is very different, but appeals to everyone. So next time you see a folk event advertised, why not give it a go.

If you are new to folk, one of the best ways to experience the genre is to go to a folk festival. There are many different genres everything from traditional folk to folk punk and a festival is a good way to experience the full spectrum. It is a great way to check out new bands, but is also a good way to see the big stars of folk like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper and Holly Near.

The Early Life of Van Morrison

Van-Morrison-Midnight-Specia

Van Morrison was born on the 31st August 1945 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and was christened George Ivan Morrison. He and his parents lived at 125 Hyndford Street for many years. His father George was a shipyard electrician and his mother Violet used to be a tap dancer and singer when she was young.

Van the Man’s Musical Roots

She definitely had a strong influence on the young George and passed on her love of all things musical. The Ireland that George (Van) was born into had a rich music scene, which largely continues today.

However, his father was the biggest music fan in the family. Legend has it that, at one stage, he had the biggest music collection in Ulster. His father had spent several years working in Detroit, Michigan right when the music scene was taking off there, and came home with an amazing and eclectic record collection.

Van’s early influences

Ray-Charles

The young George, who started to be known as Van form the age of about five, grew up listening to Ray Charles, Solomon Burke and Jelly Roll Morton. He was exposed to music hardly anyone in Ireland listened to, which many say is why he stood out to the extent that he did when he started making music.

He told a Rolling Stone journalist in 2005:

“If it weren’t for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going.”solomonburke

His father’s collection included music from a huge range of music genres including gospel, blues, jazz and country music. He even listened to and enjoyed early skiffle music.

The instruments Van learnt to play

At 11, Van Morrison learned to play the acoustic guitar. By the time he was 12 he was confident enough to set up his first band, which unsurprisingly, given the age of the members, was a skiffle band.

The sputniks

They called themselves The Sputniks after the Russian satellite. He was in several other bands, but at 14, he formed Midnight Special. They were a popular local band.
At that stage, he was hooked on the idea of learning the saxophone. Once he had mastered the instrument, he was asked to join a lot of local bands. There were plenty of drummers, guitarists and traditional instrument players available, but very few people in the area who could play the saxophone.

By that time, he was a good singer and could read music. He also played the harp, but it is not clear when he learned to do so. In no time, Van Morrison also learned to play the harmonica and keyboards.

george and the monarchs

AT 17, he set out on his first European tour. In Germany, he and his then band -George and the Monarchs recorded Boozoo Hully Gully with Twingy Babas as a B-side. It was not a big hit, but today it is a collector’s item.

van-morrison-pic

The band disbanded as soon as they returned from that European tour, which meant yet another change of band for Van Morrison. In 1964, he finally found sustainable success with the band Them. They were formed as the house band for a new R&B club, within two years the band signed a contract and the hits started to come. From that point on Van Morrison was viewed as a star. He went on to form several other bands and have a long string of hits.