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What songs do you learn at Guitar Shed?

I try to give all of my students the option of learning material that they enjoy. I have heard horror stories for years of people taking lessons and quitting because they were “forced to learn” repertoire that did not interest them. But what do you do if a student has no idea what they want to learn or has trouble communicating what their favorite songs are? If students can’t think of a song or don’t know where to start, I am always happy to pick out a tune that is appropriate with their skill level and capabilities. However, I prefer to give students the option of choosing material first. Not only does this make the student more motivated to practice, but it also exposes me to music that I might not otherwise discover.

Can’t I just look up tabs and chords on the internet? Yes. I encourage students to look up songs on the internet, but (like most things on the internet) to take them with a grain of salt. Play along with the song first. If you can’t figure it out and you’ve explored all of the options, then look up the song. Tabs are a great resource but they leave out one gaping hole. RHYTHM. Granted, sometimes tabs do notate rhythm but it can be clunky and difficult to read. This is where playing along with the song is essential. You get to feel and internalize what it is like to play IN TIME with the song. Want to take it one step further? Make your own chart of the song. Want to take it even further? Throw away your chart after you memorize it. You will still be able to visualize your chart in your head and it will be much easier to remember than a tab or chord chart you found on the internet. Tabs often contain errors with wrong notes, wrong key signatures, song forms etc. So chances are if something sounds wrong to you, it probably is wrong. That’s where the teacher comes in. When a student is struggling with a piece, we are here to help you get through that musical wall.

So do you just learn songs at Guitar Shed? The short answer is no. We do learn a lot of songs, but I always tell my students that I like to “teach through songs.” What does that mean? Each song is unique and I believe they can be used as vehicles to teach important concepts in context. The more songs a student learns, the more context they have to apply musical concepts. This also strengthens the interconnectivity of ideas and allows musicians to adapt to a variety of musical situations. My ideal lesson would be a perfect balance of repertoire and theory. Too much of either and you will fall off the musical tightrope.

So back to the original question. What songs DO you learn at Guitar Shed? Here’s a list of the artists that we are studying right now:

  • Albert King
  • B.B. King
  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Bob Dylan
  • Cat Stevens
  • CCR
  • Chopin
  • Daft Punk
  • Dawes
  • Dolly Parton
  • Doug Sahm
  • Eric Clapton
  • Eva Cassidy
  • Gershwin
  • Grateful Dead
  • Harold Arlen
  • Herbie Hancock
  • Horace Silver
  • Jason Isbell
  • Jerry Garcia
  • John Maye
  • John Moreland
  • John Prine
  • John Scofield
  • John Williams
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Neil Young
  • Oingo Boingo
  • Otis Redding
  • Pearl Jam
  • Pete Seeger
  • Peter, Bjorn and John
  • Phish
  • Pink Floyd
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Robert Plant and Alison Kraus
  • Rolling Stone
  • The Allman Brothers
  • The Beatles
  • The Eagles
  • The Magnetic Fields
  • The Rolling Stones
October 26, 2015 Comments Off on What songs do you learn at Guitar Shed?

Muscle Shoals + Jason Isbell

I have been a fan of Spotify since it was some far off Swedish musical myth in 2008. Almost 10 years later and it seems more and more that streaming music seems to be the way of the future these days. Despite Neil Young’s criticism of sound quality and my roughly 1/2 cent that I get from royalties from each play on my albums, it’s still my primary source of listening to music. Tidal, Neil Young’s Pono, and Apple Music are all getting in on a piece of the pie, making everyone up their game. The other day I got the following notification from one of my favorite artists, Jason Isbell.

“With Something More Than Free coming out next Friday, July 17, here are some of Jason’s favorite songs created in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL. Listen to the singles “24 Frames” and “Something More Than Free” on Spotify now.

What’s better than having every song at your fingertips and being able to share them instantly with whomever you want?…. Having your favorite artists share their favorite songs with you! Listening to this playlist you realize why everyone from The Rolling Stones to Etta James wanted to record at Muscle Shoals. For those of you who think that Muscle Shoals is some type of clam, do yourself a favor and watch the 2013 documentary of the same name. There certainly was magic in those walls and equipment.

In addition to the well known classics, “Still Crazy After All These Years”, “Wild Horses”, “Hey Jude” (featuring Duane Allman on guitar)…. Isbell included some deeper cuts that I hadn’t heard before (selections from Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin). And you can’t leave out “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers. From the first note, that songs plasters a smile across my face that doesn’t leave for 3 minutes. Every instrument and part is full of feeling and in the right place. I listened to Jason Isbell’s album last week on NPR’s first listen and I ensure you he is in the right place too. Keep an eye out for this album that drops tomorrow, July 17 and this triple threat guitar player/singer/songwriter. Looks like he’s playing a new festival in Piedmont Park on October 18th in Atlanta. Might want to put that one on the calendar.

 

 

July 16, 2015 Comments Off on Muscle Shoals + Jason Isbell