Well, this has certainly been a quiet month for me. I haven't written much at all this month. Why? I've been busy at work and really nothing else interesting has been happening. About the only interesting thing that I've been up to lately is attending my weekly Beginning/Intermediate Guitar class.
This class meets weekly on Thursdays from 6-8pm. Today was my second class. I have 6 more classes left this 'semester'. When I signed up for this class, I thought it would be a beginners only class. While that is mostly true, it seems to be a combination of both a beginning and intermediate class into one. Some of the students know some guitar, some don't. The teacher says you are free to take the class as often as you like. There are some students that clearly have taken the class before, since they knew the teacher and had some guitar knowledge. The teacher is this 56 year old guitarist who works in a guitar shop, teachs guitar in the evenings and plays in a band several days a week. This is clearly a guy who lives and breathes guitars. He's a nice guy, but make sure you pay attention and don't cause trouble or he will yell at you. :) The class tends to be a beginner class for the first hour or so and then an intermediate class for the last half hour to hour. This is fine. I can learn the beginner stuff and see a little of the more advanced stuff later. I'm proud to say that I even kinda understand some of the more advanced stuff. At least the last 6-8 months that I've been wandering about on my own weren't a complete waste of time.
The teacher says that by the end of the class (only 6 more classes!) we will be able to play all 7 major chords, all 7 minor chords and all seven of the '7ths' chords. That's 21 chords in a vary short period of time. At the end of the class you will have a 'final exam' where you have to demonstrate all these chords. The first class was centered around tuning the guitar. He want through the entire class and hand-tuned everyone's guitar. He also taught us a techique for using harmonics to hand tune the guitar, without any instruments. I didn't quite get this harmonics tuning thing in the first class. We went over this again for part of this class. I think I'm starting to understand it a bit better. It's a tricky techique. It's going to take some practice to get this down. He gave us a simple practice exercise to do on the guitar, as well as a handout which contained diagrams of all 21 of the chords.
Once we finished going over the harmonics tuning technique again today, we moved on to our first 3 chords - A, D & E Major. He had given us the chord diagrams last week as well as the notes for a very simple song - "Happy Birthday to you". The song only has these three chords. He then went around the class and had everyone of us 'sing' him Happy Birthday and play those three chords on the guitar! Maybe I missed something last time, but I didn't even know I was supposed to study those chords! All I did was the little exercise he gave us. To my amazement, I had to play the little Happy Birthday song, using 3 chords I'd never played before and I actually managed to do it. Yeah, I probably sounded horrible, but the amazing thing, is in 1 hour I actually learned those 3 chords! I can picture the chord diagrams in my head for these 3 now and a couple of hours ago, I had no clue! Naturally, I have ALOT of practice to do to be able to actually play those pretty cleanly, but the fact that I was able to learn 3 chords that fast amazed me. That's more than I can see for the last 8 months.
He also talked a bit about how to properly position your arms to play the guitar. A woman was complaining that her hands were too small to play the guitar. She said she couldn't reach all the strings. Turns out that the solution was a simple matter of adjusting the position of your hands and suddenly you can reach the strings! I'd been having this same problem myself over the last months. I could reach all the strings except the vary top one. I kept having a really hard time with that one. Once I adjusted my hand position a little bit, it got A LOT easier. Now *this* is what I needed. I need a knowledgable person to look at me and point out where I'm going wrong. These little tips go a LONG way in taking the frustration out of this that I've been experiencing.
I am one of the few students in the class who shows up every class carrying an electric guitar. Of the 15 or so students, only 1 other has an electric. The rest are acoustic. I'm seriously considering getting myself a decent, cheap acoustic for the class. (Hey Dave, wanna make a trip to MAE??? :) ) Why? I can't hear my darn guitar when I play it! Electric guitars play the notes when you play them without the amp, but it's usually a very weak sound. I tend to get drowned out by the acoustics around me. It's kinda frustrating. I'm not entirely sure if this something I'm doing wrong though. The teacher was talking about how you are supposed to hold the pick when playing. He said you generally want to hold the pick so that you only have the small tip of the pick visible. As he put it, you wouldn't hold a pen by the very far end to write would you? If you did, you would have a hard time controlling the pen. The same argument applies with the pick. When I started holding the pick tigher with only the tip showing, I tended to get a much louder note out of the guitar, even without an amp. Maybe this will get me by. I have always been very 'loose' with the pick. I have to break myself of this habit.
I'm really starting to see the benefit of going to this class. All the little tips he gives you really help in getting you over the frustrating problems. I will definately be signing up for his next class.
Now for that acoustic guitar...