Hey, kids! Welcome to a long overdue Free For All Friday, where we throw random stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like a musical food fight! What’s on the menu today, you ask?
Today our selections include:
1 – Guitar Zero, a fascinating new book on the challenges of learning guitar for adults
2 – Conan gets a crack at a Fab guitar collection
3 – Twitter blows up with, “Who is Paul McCartney?”
For those about to rock, we salute you!
I got notice from the Guitar Principles newsletter last week that an interesting new book was recently released. I first read the accompanying article from the New York Times:
Then I immediately ordered the book because it focused on something that not only fascinates me as an instructor and life-long guitarist, but is of great importance to the men and women on my roster: Can an adult learn to play guitar well?
Adult guitar students bring something entirely different to the table than children. Young kids and teens are more matter-of-fact about it – to them it’s not a big deal to learn a new skill or concept. Adults often have a lot of emotional baggage attached to their musical quest:
– Am I too old to learn something new, and especially something complicated? Is my brain too full of “stuff”?
– Do I have any talent? Am I wasting my time without it?
– I always dreamed of playing music but never took the leap for any number of reasons – self-doubt, lack of time, no discernible musical instincts, etc.
The author, cognitive psychologist Gary Marcus, set out to learn the guitar at age 40, using himself as his guinea pig, even though he was always under the impression that he was “unmusical”. And learn he did.
Of particular local interest is that, although Dr. Marcus is an NYU professor, he hails from Baltimore. And he references his time at DayJams, an annual summer band camp held at Park School and run by local guitarist/teacher, Tobias Hurwitz. (I once had the pleasure of filling in for a week for one of the regular teachers at DayJams – it was a blast.)
The author set out to teach himself, using various materials, before exploring the option of lessons with a teacher. Although it was important for him to do this as part of his grand experiment, I do believe that it is a mistake for an adult to learn guitar on their own – without the critical feedback of a good teacher – unless they are highly self-motivated and have a keen sense of body awareness. Without those two elements present, the mountain is mighty steep. Feedback from someone more experienced is clearly the most efficient way to learn the instrument.
Please check out Guitar Zero, especially if you’re an adult guitarist who is interested in the learning process. You’ll likely recognize some of your own challenges right there in the pages of Marcus’s book!
Conan Gets Fab
Conan O’Brien recently had Dhani Harrison on his show to talk about the new iPad app chronicling his father, George Harrison’s, extensive guitar collection. In return, Dhani was kind enough to let Conan see dad’s guitar collection in person. In Conan’s words, “It’s like staring into the sun.”
For those of you with iPads, check out the press release on Apple’s new app:
“Bandwidth Publishing, in conjunction with the George Harrison Estate, announces the release of a special iPad app celebrating the guitarist and his historical guitar collection. The Guitar Collection: George Harrison iPad app is available through iTunes starting February 23, two days before Harrison’s birth date.
The app brings George Harrison’s private guitar collection to life through photographs, detailed descriptions, audio, and video footage. For the first time, with the help of unique 360° imaging by photographer Steven Sebring, fans can see the scratches, dings, and worn threads on the guitars as if they were themselves holding the instruments. The app features a number of Harrison’s best known guitars, including the Gretsch G6128 Duo Jet, the Gibson J-160E, the Rickenbacker 360/12, the Fender Stratocaster named ‘Rocky’, the Ramirez Classical, the Fender Rosewood Telecaster, and the Zemaitis Lotus 12-String, Additional guitars will be added to the app in the future.
Fans can examine Harrison’s private guitar collection through personal audio recordings from Harrison himself, as he introduces many of the guitars and plays sections of songs.
The history of each guitar is laid out in great detail, including the origin of the guitar, when and how it became part of Harrison’s collection, modifications he made to it and why each was so important in creating his distinctive sound. Songs from his catalogue are organized by the guitars used on each track, which allows the user to appreciate the personalities of each instrument.
The video section of the app contains footage of Ben Harper, Josh Homme, Mike Campbell, and Dhani Harrison each playing and showcasing the guitars and exploring their feel and tone. In addition, Conan O’Brien and Dhani discuss what make these guitars so exceptional. Also in this section, guitar great Gary Moore shares his views on what made George Harrison such a distinctive and influential guitar player.”
The Guitar Collection: George Harrison, available now, is selling for $9.99 at the Apple App Store, on iTunes.
Watch a video previewing the app’s features at the link below:
Who Is Paul McCartney?
As if we needed another sign of the impending apocalypse, the Twitter world apparently blew up during the Grammy awards, with young skulls full of mush everywhere wondering, “Who is Paul McCartney?”
I kid you not.
In a time when the Kardashians have standing room only appearances and girls weep openly at the sight of them – or at least at the sight of Kim’s badonkadonk – Macca is just “hella old”. Never mind the fact that girls used to weep openly whenever he flipped his mop-top. But rather than just look good, Sir Paul actually had, you know, skills.
Now I just sound like a grumpy old guy myself.
“How dare these kids like Justin Beiber but not know who the Beatles were!”
It’s just that, to someone my age, this is a travesty of the highest order. A mortal musical sin. Inconceivable.
Is it any wonder that these same dummies who took the time to post on Twitter failed to just Google his name to find out who he was? (sigh)
Anyways, Guitar Squid has a fun take on the whole matter, including a comical “History Channel meets Twitter” documentary video, courtesy of FunnyOrDie.com.
WARNING: Although the video on The Squid’s page is HILARIOUS to me, it has strong language and is inappropriate for the kiddies. That also goes for the adults who are easily offended. Take heed!
See you next time, rock stars!