Opinion

High-tech guitar lessons for learner

Technology brings a lot of wonderful advantages to our lives, allowing us to connect instantly with friends far away and organize entire months of our lives on a small hand-held device.

While many innovations bring new, life-saving capabilities to the health industry, the ones seemingly getting the most attention are the trivial. I am responsible for frequently indulging in the trivial albeit incredible use of the DVR feature on cable. I can’t imagine having to wait amidst the grueling, insipid lineup of television only to watch the few diamonds in the broadcasting rough. Instead, DVR allows me to order several of my favorite shows instantly when I feel like watching them.

Sometimes, I question if technology brings us enjoyment too trivial. Many television news broadcasts now feature the anchor introducing a YouTube video and playing an excerpt with a brief description. This often passes as a story, but it’s really just a glorified version of what countless school kids, college students and bored employees on their lunch breaks do every day. Aside from news channels believing a squirrel on water skis is deserving of “film at 11,” I have nothing against YouTube, providing people with a pleasurable respite from a hectic day. It’s nice to find something to laugh at or something unique to watch, but with all the attention the Web channel receives, it left me wondering if there was anything more than just strange stuff posted by random people. The exploration of a new hobby led me to learn YouTube offers so much more.

When I began to play the guitar in October 2007, I wanted to try something new and thought it sounded like a fun activity. Having never made a serious attempt at playing the instrument in my life, I began by learning which notes corresponded to each string and the names of the different parts of the guitar. My journey toward building calluses on my fingertips got difficult quickly when I attempted to play a “G” chord. If I had dropped my guitar and listened as it tumbled down a staircase the sound I heard would be better than the egregiously muffled and screechy noise I was responsible for. Could I really be expected to bend my fingers and stretch them in such a way as to play multiple strings simultaneously without accidentally touching the wrong ones and ruining my chord? Eventually I conquered that obstacle and can now play a “G” chord and many others with ease, but I can’t read music well enough to see what’s on the page and know how it’s supposed to sound. This is where I found help from the unlikely source of YouTube.

The discovery of its benefits to my guitar skills was serendipitous. As I was scouring the Internet for sheet music to some pop/rock songs, one of the search results linked to a video posted on YouTube of a young guitarist performing an acoustic version of a major pop hit. Learning I could watch videos of guitarists of varying skill levels opened doors for me in a way not known since I learned to cook “30-Minute Meals.” I never understood what the music on the page was supposed to sound like coming from my acoustic guitar, but now I search for covers of pop songs and hear the performances, allowing me to coherently put the chords together. I now am able to play decent or at least recognizable versions of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” and am improving each day on “Crush Crush Crush” by Paramore. When I need inspiration, I can even watch the original videos by the artists as well as endless clips of interviews and backstage footage. It’s like MTV before “The Hills.”

I’m pleased these video lessons are so helpful, even though I don’t ever expect to get a call from Avril with an invitation to join her on tour.

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