A mad idea or what?
by on October 3, 2012 in News

It started as an idea whilst picking up my good friend Tony, who is a musician and web designer from the airport last January.

Actually, if I’m honest, the seeds were sown a while before then, probably…………

As a musician I divide my time up into performing, practising, writing and teaching. I’ve always taught, well since the age of seventeen and I actually really enjoy it very much. I currently teach guitar at a local music school and I teach more serious music at a music college. It keeps me up to date with what’s going on, the latest must have techniques and it forces me to keep my hand in with things I could easily let slip such as counterpoint, four part harmony and other such things, things which are really good for you as a musician but can easily be neglected. It’s also very satisfying to share the knowledge and skills I’ve accumulated over the years and to see players flourish.

I love technology. In fact I really love gadgets. Every gadget I buy i’m convinced is going to change my life, although it never really does. I also love the Internet. The Internet is an amazing thing, I never cease to marvel at it. It is the biggest library in the history of mankind and everything you need is available instantly, one click away, information, shopping etc. There is a heck of a lot of bad information available too and because the Internet belongs to everyone, there is no censoring process to sift out the duff stuff. I’m not saying there should be either, everyone has the right to say and post what they want.

So, back to the music. In the old days, if you wanted to learn to play a musical instrument the first thing you did (after obtaining an instrument of course) was to seek out a good teacher to help you. I had many and I’m indebted to each and every one of them. Now, it seems, the first thing you do after obtaining an instrument is to go on line and find a website with the information you need. Now I’m all for progress and I embrace technology, I love it, but this method is full of flaws. The main one been, people love to learn party pieces, something to impress the mates, of course they do, who doesn’t. Unfortunately this is often to the detriment of other things, mainly the essential skills which you need to be a competent musician. You’d be surprised at how many players I meet or hear audition who can play the most intricate pieces with no idea why or how those notes work, and worse, when quizzed can’t even play the most rudimentary of scales or chords. There is nothing I can do about this, it’s human nature and hopefully somewhere down the line these gaps will be filled.

The clincher for me I suppose was when I was looking through a teaching guitar site and the information was so amazingly wrong it was fantastic, the sad and worrying part though was the amount of comments thanking this chap for the information he had provided. That probably was when the seed was really sown and the first thoughts of an on line series of guitar lessons started.

So… Coming back from the airport last January the discussion came up, wouldn’t it be great to have a series of video guitar lessons available on line, covering all the tricky stuff which is generally quite badly explained. There are exceptions to this of course and I can think of a number of really good, well informed sites which I would recommend in a flash. Now I wouldn’t expect to change the world with this series but at least I would be content in knowing it was there for people to access and discover. By the time we’d got to Huddersfield the plan was devised. Tony would develop the website and do all the fancy stuff and I’d write a series of fifty two lessons, to be released one a week, covering a range of techniques and styles, things which were fairly advanced and are often misleading, badly explained or wrong when searched on the Internet. I got in touch with an old friend Karl Heslin who is a musician and a recording engineer and has a studio and told him of the idea, he agreed to help and GuitarByes was born.

It’s been a mammoth undertaking, it sounds so easy on paper but to record a 10 minute podcast episode generally takes about 50 mins with different mic positions, camera angles and all my many mistakes. Add on to that the time it takes to mix down the audio, the editing of the video, writing the on screen musical examples and the podcast notes and suddenly the 10 minute video takes about 4 hours to produce, more for any improvisations which might need transcribing.

From a production side there is a really nice website where everything can be accessed and there are news updates for subscribers. There is a YouTube channel, Facebook site and we are on twitter. We even have guitar picks!

So has it been worth it? I guess time will tell. Hopefully these videos will reach a lot of people and help develop more consistent playing, maybe viewers will be inspired to explore certain concepts in more depth and develop a working knowledge of the techniques discussed. Whatever happens, I’m safe in the knowledge that there is an accurate and relevant product out there for anyone to access, it’s also been a lot of fun putting it together.

So what’s next. Well I ended up putting a lot of performing on hold to concentrate on this project so I need to get back to that but also I’m now thinking of my other bugbear, sight reading and I have a couple of really good ideas so ………. Watch this space!

Why not have a look around www.guitarbytes.co.uk there are links to Facebook, twitter and all the other things mentioned and you can subscribe to the newsfeed which lets you know when any podcasts are available and any other relevant information.

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