Adult Guitar Lessons

So you've decided that you're going to write your own songs, express yourself and your inner feelings, and only play original material. That's great! It's a worthy goal, so write on!
front-page-icon5There are many paths a guitarist can take. Upon crossing the threshold from beginner to - "guitar player" -  it is natural to feel the "creative" juices start to flow and, invariably, songs will be born.

I know musicians that are so adamant about exclusively playing their own songs that they wouldn't get caught dead on stage with a "cover" song in their portfolio.

I have other friends that play in bands that play nothing but "cover" tunes. They enjoy bringing familiar songs to life for a live crowd and some get paid well for it.

Now that I no longer do long distance touring, I write a lot of original songs to pitch to publishers and artists, but also play with various local and regional bands that predominately play cover songs. Most musicians I know fall into this "little bit of both" category.
lesson 2Although it is an admirable goal to pursue strictly original material, there are a number of benefits to learning cover songs that should not be neglected.

If we, as humans, are a "sum of our experiences", then we, as musicians, are a sum of our "musical experiences". Everything that we have ever played, everything that we have ever heard, all the little bits and pieces, and  all the full length scores - are all rolled up together into what makes us each unique as individual musicians.

One could then conclude that, in order to become a better songwriter and broader musician, you should "learn more cover songs".

Although that may be contrary to a songwriting "purist", it stands to reason that even the staunchest supporter of the "original material only" path, had listened to, and emulated, artists that inspired them in the past.

And possibly without knowing it, those "cover" songs have at least had a subconscious affect on their own original music.

Learning cover songs is a great exercise in expanding your musical vocabulary. The things you learn from cover songs have a way of filtering through and becoming part of your style.

My early days of learning to play lead guitar were spent over a turntable "stealing licks" from Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Jimmy Page and Clapton. Those early influences still have a big impact on my playing style, even decades later.
too old 1There are some neat things that can happen while learning and dissecting cover songs. The experience of finally nailing a difficult lick, the satisfaction of figuring out an inconspicuous chord, the discovery of a new chord progression that you had not considered before - there are many "aha" moments when learning cover songs that would have been missed otherwise.

And all those moments make a consious or unconsious contribution to who you are and who you become musically.

Often times, new guitar players shy away from attempting to learn cover songs. There is a thought that songs on a recording are somehow beyond their reach. But the truth is that, once a guitarist has the basics under their belt, they can discover that many of the songs in popular music that they aspire to learn are  actually comprised of chord progressions and patterns that they already know or are familiar with.
fretting 02It is through this discovery process that a new guitar player can begin to truly expand their horizons and begin to progress as musicians. In our Beginner Guitar Lessons course we have even dedicated a section to introducing tips and techniques that the new guitar player can take to become proficient at learning cover songs for themselves.

So regardless of which path you ultimately end up taking, whether it's the pure original songwriting route, the cover song route, or a combination thereof - keep in mind that spending the time and effort to learn cover songs is a healthy habit to get into and that the effort will pay off in dividends to you musically for as long as you play guitar.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

Sure, playing guitar is fun, relaxing, satisfying, and a great way to spend an evening with friends.

But the truth of the matter is, in order to get good on the guitar, just like anything else, you've got to spend some time practicing.
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For some, the term "practicing" conjures up visions of drudgery and self-imposed imprisonment. And it is that mindset that leads many new guitar students to failure.

But just by tweaking their outlook on practicing to a more positive slant, most students can turn practice from a mind numbing, boring task, into an exciting world of new discovery.

One way of accomplishing this is to split practice time up into segments. Devoting a little time to each segment of practice to offset the boredom and/or burnout.

A guitar student might split practice time into three different segments. One for learning new material, one for reviewing past material, and one for "doodle" time.

New Material

As an aspiring guitarist you should always be hungry to learn new things on the guitar. It might be a new scale, chord progression, riff or song. The input of new material on the guitar keeps things "fresh" and creates a level of anticipation every time you pick it up.
too old 4There is such a thing, however, as "too much new information". Take new material in sips, not gulps. Give smaller pieces time to digest before trying to cram too much in there. You will make a lot more progress on the guitar by letting small pieces of new information become slowly ingrained into your playing style, than trying to shove it all down at once.

Review Past Material

When you learn a new piece or concept on the guitar it is, quite often, very clear in your mind when first learning it. You can sit there and play it over and over with no problem.

But then you go back the next day and can't remember a lick about it! It happens to everyone. That is why devoting a segment of your practice time to going back over past lessons or songs will be one of the most productive uses of your time possible.

"Doodle Time"

It can be amazing what happens when you just sit around and "doodle" on the guitar. Doodle time involves throwing out all the rules and turning off the internal "editor", and just "messing around" with whatever comes out of your fingertips.

Call this "recess" for the guitar. Nothing is right or wrong, it doesn't matter what you play. Just let your mind run free and don't "over-thinK" anything.
too old 1Some of the best songs and musical pieces have been written as a result of the composer allowing themselves to "float freely" on their instrument with no concern of where they land.

Whether you have 3 hours to devote to practice, or only 15 minutes - try dividing your allotted amount of time into these three segments and see how much more you improve on the guitar...and, how much more fun you have!

Dedicated Practice Space

It would be great if we all had a separate room in the house that could be deemed our "music" room. A place that we could go and lock out the world while we get lost on the fretboard.
tutorial pic 11Unfortunately that's not always the case and may not shake well with the rest of the family! One solution is to try and agree on a dedicated space, somewhere in the house, that you can go to for practicing.

It may be a corner of an office or bedroom, a bonus room, a utility room, a garage or closet! Anywhere that you can take a few minutes periodically and be alone with no distractions.

"Do Not Disturb"

Try to have an understanding with family members that when you close the door to your practice area you are not to be disturbed for anything short of an emergency. Turn off the cell phone, the email and the TV. Create a quiet atmosphere where you can focus completely on playing guitar.

Practice "Tools"

In addition to your guitar, it is also a good idea to keep nearby some other items that you may need during practice. If you are taking online lessons then you obviously want to be close to your computer. Make sure your guitar tuner is close by, as well as a metronome and some picks. It is a good idea to start a note pad for jotting down lesson highlights and always have that within arms reach.
metronome 1Try to keep all these things close to your guitar "workstation" so that you don't have to interrupt your practice time chasing them down.

It's also important to be comfortable while practicing. Try to sit in a chair with no or "low profile" arms that will not impede the guitar.

Wear the most relaxing clothing possible. You may accomplish more at practice time in sweat pants and T-shirt, or your flannel "jammies", than in a stiff three piece suit.
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The key to good and productive practicing is to dedicate your time to a variety of practice elements, to dedicate a space to undisturbed practicing, and to dedicate your mind to focused practice time. By doing this you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish on the guitar, even with a limited amount of time to devote to practice.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

capo 6

A capo is a device that is used on the guitar to allow the guitarist to play open chord formations in positions higher up the neck without having to play barre chords.

It is designed to "clamp" down on the neck and barre all the strings across a fret, thereby becoming the "nut" for that position. (see "Parts of the Guitar")
capo a diagram
A capo is often used by singer/songwriters to play a song in a different key, but still be able to play the song using "open" chord formations that would normally only be possible lower on the neck.

Capos are also used occasionally by lead guitarists that want to play open position scales and licks in a higher position on the neck.

To illustrate, look at the first diagram. This is an "A" chord that is "barred" at the 5th fret. The first finger acts as the barre and the "A" chord is then formed using the three remaining fingers.
capo 1

If you wanted to play this chord without having to barre it, you could use a capo. The capo would be "clamped" across the 5th fret in place of using the 1st finger. Then the "A" chord could be formed using the same fingering as you would an "E" chord in the open position.


The next diagram illustrates a "D" chord also played by barring the capo d diagram5th fret. If, as in the previous example, you clamped a capo on the 5th fret in place of using the 1st finger as a barre, you could then play the "D" chord using the same fingering as you would an "A" chord in the open position.

Just like barre chords, a capo capo 2will allow you to change the "voicing" of a chord. An "E" chord played by barring the 7th fret will have a different sound than an "E" chord played in the open position, even though they are the same chord.

When first applying a capo to the guitar it can sometimes take a little tweaking to find the "sweet spot" of the fret where the capo is most effective. A little too low or too high on the fret and the guitar can lose intonation and sound out of tune. In some cases you will actually need to re-tune a bit once the capo is in place.

capo 3Capos come in all shapes and sizes and finding the one that works best for you may simply be a matter of trial and error. There are capos made specifically for the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, mandolin, banjo and more.capo 4

Some capos have a "cut out" at one or more of the string positions to allow open strings to ring out while the capo is in place higher on the neck. There are capos that cover only three or four strings and every combination imaginable.

The easiest way to get started is to get a standard capo for your particular guitar, clamp it on a fret, and play around with playing your open chord formations. It will open up a world of possibilities with your playing and songwriting.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

My next door neighbor had a decorating/ catering business that she ran out of her home for years. Her husband had their garage closed in and that became her office/warehouse/meeting area.
too old 4She worked hard and kept a clear vision in her mind the whole time. One day she would open a store front with a gift department, a floral department, and a catering department.

In her travels around town she always kept her eyes the real estate market, always looking for that perfect property that matched the dream in her mind.

One day she found it. The place she had envisioned. It would need some work to get it to where she wanted it to be, but hard work was nothing new to her.

She bought the property and spent the next several months working tirelessly getting it ready. Scrubbing, painting, landscaping, overseeing contractors, paying attention to the smallest of details. Finally, the  day came when everything was in place and the doors were opened to the public.

The business was a hit and took off. she hired more employees, increased her inventory, and her profits. She continued to work 6 or 7 days a week, loving every minute of it. She still does. Not bad for someone who went out on a limb and opened a new business at the age of 68!

We all know people like this, the ones who didn't get the "memo" that, at age 65 it's time to collect the gold watch and head out to pasture.

Are You Too Old to Start Playing Guitar?


If you "think" you are, then the answer is probably "yes". You may have had the dream to pick up the guitar at a younger age, but got side tracked. Life has a funny way of getting in the way of such dreams. Raising a family, climbing the corporate ladder, starting a home, building up the IRA. Priorities change and the creative side of us gets put on the back burner.
too old 1But sitting there on the back burner, our dream continues to simmer, and one day we wake up to the realization that we only get one shot at our journey on this earth. That this is not a "rehearsal" for the real one. This "is" the real one and if we are ever going to do it, we just have to "do it".

This applies to any pursuit that we have only dreamed about. Whether it's playing a musical instrument, learning to paint, writing a novel or starting a new business. The only way to quench that thirst is to jump in head first. The best time to start is now!

Maybe you wanted to play guitar in your youth but just "never got around to it". You may have even played guitar for a while in college but had to give it up for a "real" job. You might have wanted to take up the guitar as a hobby but in between raising a family and building a career, never found the time.

If playing the guitar is an un-quenched passion of yours then it may be time to make it happen.

You might be apprehensive as to where to begin. Start by buying a guitar! Next, take some lessons - practice and learn. Figure out how to play some of your favorite songs. As Nike would say, "just do it".

Without turning this into a blatant advertisement for, we have an extensive tutorial section (see "Tutorials") that will answer a lot of questions for you in terms of buying a guitar, learning basic music notation, guitar maintenance and more. It's all free.
too old 2We also have some free lessons on the site and a ton of other useful information to help you get started. Our lessons program is designed specifically for guitar students of "our" generation.

After playing guitar professionally for over 30 years, I realized that most guitar lesson programs cater to a younger audience. The 13 to 25 year olds. But a more mature guitar student has a different set of goals and needs than a teenager.

That's why we're here. To help guitar students who don't have 4 hours a day to practice, who don't want to spend years learning music theory, who don't want to spend countless hours practicing mind numbing scales and exercises, students who aren't trying to be the next Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen.

We're here for the mature student that just wants to learn how to play guitar fast and easy. We provide our lessons in a clear, step-by-step fashion, using videos, text, pictures, charts and diagrams. And our students are never alone. Our members recieve full email support whenever they need it.
too old 3Irregardless of which path you ultimately take, if you have had a dream of "one day" learning how to play the guitar, then resolve, right now, to make "one day"...TODAY!

Please do not
hesitate to contact us with any questions!