Mudcat Café message #82472 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11225   Message #82472
Posted By: Roger in Baltimore
28-May-99 - 05:03 PM
Thread Name: Learning to play guitar
Subject: Learning to play guitar
Annap on another thread asked for good music for a beginnin guitarists.

It seemed to me to be a great subject for a thread (I did not do a forum search to see if it has been done before).

I only know how I learned, so I will pass that on.

My first teaching device was Alan Lomax's Folk Songs of North America. In addition to being a wonderful resource of folk music it has an appendix that describes some basic forms of guitar picking. (It also does it for banjo, but who wants to learn banjo?) Each song in the book is labelled with the chords and the suggested guitar picking styles for that song. I was familiar with many of the songs, and I picked up a lot of technique this way.

The appendix also teaches you how to transpose chords from one key to another. That was a major blessing for a baritone like myself.

I frequently amazed my peers (who were also just learning) with techniques I learned from Lomax's book. The next teaching device was Jerry Silverman's Folksingers Guitar Guide. The techniques I learned from Lomax were expanded here. It was my first introduction to guitar tablature. The songs are fairly well-known and the tabs are relative uncomplicated. It was here that I learned about bass runs and they remain a backbone of my guitar work today.

I have taken guitar lessons three times. Twice they did it feel they were worth the expense. I did take a group lesson once and I felt I learned nearly as much as I would have learned in an individual lesson.

Anything I watch a friend play that I don't understand, I ask about. Even after years of guitar playing, I have found that even a new guitarist can often teach me something because they have different interests than mine.

In the past few years, I have bought video tapes by Happy Traum, Steve Ainslie, and Roy Book Binder. All three were helpful to me, but they all required that I have some basic skills. Happy Traum has some tapes for basic skills, and based on my experience with his later tapes I suspect they are good also.

I have occasionally learned licks off of records. My first serious success was "Poor Man" on Tom Rush's first Elektra album. I have never been too good at it. Catspaw and LEJ will be happy to know that I do a pretty good rendition of "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young. Hey, how depressing can you get? I suppose Reg, Reg, and Reg or perhaps Cletus will be journeying to Maryland to take me back to the NYCTS (Neil Young Center for the Terminally Screwed).

Come on in Mudcatter's, the water is fine. Maybe Banjer will start a banjer thread and perhaps Catspaw will have one on playing the Tiple. And Bill D. or Rick can do one on the Autoharp and Ferrara can explain that old Mac Arthur's harp. And maybe Barbara can include her instructions on how to play a 'possum butt. Then the tin whistle, and the bohdran, and the pipes. Ah, the possibilities are endless. Pretty soon Max'll have to buy a new server.

Big RiB