Friday, December 23, 2005

Can You Learn to Play the Guitar (I mean REALLY play the guitar) From Internet Lessons?

My take is that the jury is still out, but the odds are against it. The two major "learning" sites that I've used are Vision Music, by Mark Stefani. This awkwardly constructed site has "lessons" and jam tracks by a number of well known guitarists, and it certainly is worth exploring for a low monthly membership fee. But, the site's construction and organization is confusing, and I found that after using it for a few months there wasn't enough depth to keep me interested.

The second site is Truefire ("ignited we stand") a flashy, ambitious site that provides mini-lessons in a variety of styles, interactive video play, and DVD lesson packages such as Jazz U. I purchased Jazz U, and it turned out to be a series (a very large series) of lessons from back issues of Guitar Player Magazine. It was basically, "here's a riff, here's a chord sequence," written by many authors (some long dead), with no coherence or visible rhyme of reason. I could just see some summer intern at Truefire being told to go through the last 20 years of Guitar Player and collect and scan every jazz guitar lesson.

It took hours just to separate the good from the bad, and the good was only about 15% of the whole. This material was not conducive to learning jazz guitar, unless perhaps you are already highly accomplished and are looking for a few pointers or tricks.

The newest site, which has not yet opened, is WorkShopLive. This site promises -
WorkshopLive is a unique educational platform that delivers personalized and completely individualized music lessons through a broadband Internet connection. Its patent-pending technology determines how each student learns best, then delivers the teaching options, lessons and learning environment that best suits the student’s needs.

Some 600 guitar and keyboard lessons will become available to subscribers of the revolutionary Internet learning system in October. In advance of the company’s highly-anticipated debut, sample lessons will be posted at in coming days.

Among the first lessons or courses concluded are those from performers/bestselling authors Susan Mazer [Guitar for the Absolute Beginner] and Jody Fisher [The Complete Jazz Guitar Method, etc.], guitarist/singer-songwriter Matt Smith [Matt Smith Chop Shop for Guitar] and keyboardist Amy Rosser [Max Keyboard].

Hope springs eternal . . ..

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