Thursday, January 31, 2019

Why Lessons?

With all the free material available online today, you may wonder why anyone would want or need lessons to learn to play a musical instrument.  When I was growing up 40 years ago, we had books, recordings and people to learn from.  And quite frankly, I miss the interaction with "real live" people.  If I was to pick the number one reason to take lessons, I would say that is exactly the reason -- interaction with a person.  Conversation that can go two ways.  The chance to ask questions, clarify, expound...not to mention the all important feedback!

I'm not saying that the new materials available aren't useful, because I think they are.  I'm going to give you some ideas and thoughts that I hope will improve and speed up your learning.

YouTube - This is probably one of the great advents of this time!  The ability to hear so many different people play and sing songs is a huge learning aid.  You hear the different styles, speeds, keys, licks, and everything imaginable.  YouTube is a fantastic resource!  You don't have to buy or store countless recordings!  You can even use settings right on the YouTube video player to slow down or speed up the videos without changing the pitch.  What a great way to finally learn some of those elusive licks!  Want to learn a new song but can't think of one?  Type in "bluegrass banjo" or "Earl Scruggs" and see what pops up!  If you are a beginner, your best bet is to pick known artists so you know that the songs are being playing correctly and in time.

Free Tabs, Chord Charts, and Sheet Music - This is both good and bad.  At least with YouTube you can hear it first.  I have found much of the free written material to be less than satisfactory.  That's not to say it's not useful.  This is one of the areas that I pick and choose from.  I am fortunate that I can sightread, so I can look at this type of material and figure out if I like it pretty quickly without ever playing it.  I like to take ideas from these kinds of materials.  Many times the chords on the chord charts are not correct.  Sometimes even the words are not correct!  Make sure you double-check these types of materials.  If you don't have the experience, have someone else look at it to help you.

Paid Video Lessons or Learning Sites - This is also a new idea.  Some of these are very good.  And they are a great option to regular lessons if you live in a remote area, or if there is no one near you that teaches lessons.  Some of these sites just create videos and some use a combination of videos and tabs to teach you note for note how to play specific songs.  Most of these sites allow you to speed up and slow down the audio, which is a great learning tool!  A few of these sites, such as Tony Trischka's School of Banjo, even offer the ability for you to upload what you have learned and receive video feedback of what you submitted.  This is, in my opinion, the best of options!

Now what do regular lessons have to offer that these do not?  A very personal experience, for starters.  Nothing like having a regular teacher to be accountable to, to receive regular feedback from, to encourage you and let you know if you are on the right track or not, to give you a direction and reasonable goals, and to give you information about musical happenings in your area that you would benefit from.  A good teacher is your musical friend.  A good teacher will give you shortcuts (if there are any), help keep you from developing bad habits and techniques, give you the "why's" behind what you are doing, and tell you how things are done in your area.  Believe it or not, tunes can be regional.  That means that they are very popular in some states or counties, but not in others.  Or even that they are played differently in different areas.  This doesn't mean you can't be the one to "enlighten" the other musicians in your area, but if you are newbie looking for others to play with, you will want to pick tunes that others know.  At least in the beginning!  And picking with others is one of the key ways to get better faster, not to mention how much fun it is!  So if you haven't tried regular lessons and you are looking for a way to improve your picking this year, you may want to consider this "old fashioned" option!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chris' 2019 Private Lesson Schedule

Chris' 2019 Private Lesson Schedule

Chris will not be teaching private lessons on the following dates.  Please note that group lessons (workshops, classes) WILL be taught unless it specifically mentions no group lessons on the date.

February 11, 12, 13, 14 (no group lessons)
March 4, 5, 6, 7
April 8, 9, 10, 11
May 27, 28, 29, 30 (no group lessons)
June – Lessons all month
July 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11
August 12, 13, 14, 15
September 16, 17, 18, 19
October 21, 22, 23, 24
November 25, 26, 27, 28 (no group lessons)
December 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 (no group lessons)
January 1, 2019 (no group lessons)