Palm Trees, Ukuleles, The Moody Blues, Rainbows 10 Years, 11 Months ago
TG Newsletter #15 - August 29th, 2009
In this issue you'll find...
- What's going on at Totally Guitars?
- Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...
- Ask Neil
- Recent Comments
- The TG Blog
What's Going On?
So after a week in Hawaii, on the personal mission of delivering a
child, no, a young adult, to college, I come back to find about a
hundred new things happening here at TotallyGuitars. I will try to
summarize as many of them as I can in a short time.
As far as my trip is concerned, what musician could go to Hawaii
and not think about learning a little ukulele? One of my first
stops was to visit the good folks at Hilo Guitars & Ukuleles and
pick up an inexpensive instrument. The owner, Ken suggested, that
in the price range I was looking, a Kala. It ran around $100.
Having just spent considerably more at Wal-Mart outfitting my
daughter's dorm, it seemed like a great deal!
The first thing I did was to learn a song, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's
version of Over The Rainbow in a medley with What A Wonderful
World. I shot a quick video lesson on it and got it to our TARGET
members this week. I also worked on a few other Hawaiian type
things- stay tuned for those.
Single Song Streaming
The big news here at TG is that we are now able to offer everybody
individual lessons of single songs. These can be purchased for
$14.95 per lesson and you will have total access to that song
forever. This should be a great thing for anybody not sure about
the TARGET Program who might like to try out a single song first.
We know there are also many people who can't get to the guitar as
often as they would like. This could be a good way to take things
at a more comfortable pace, without the monthly commitment.
Of course, we still think the TARGET Program is an incredible value
and certainly hope everybody will consider joining soon as there
are changes on the horizon. We have reached the point where, very
soon, we will be closing the TARGET Program to new members. All
current members, who we consider our founding or charter members,
can stay for as long as you like at the founding rate of $19.95 per
month or to quote ....hotel califonia "you can check out but you
can never leave ...". We are working on a ton of new content and
exciting features for Target Members, so When we do re-open it will
be at a higher rate, so make sure if you havent sampled what we are
about please do soon, ensure you get the long term price fix, and
become one of our founders..
Uploading Videos for Review
Another really cool feature that we got up and running this week is
the ability for our TARGET members to upload videos of songs they
are working on and get feedback from me, as well as from other
members. I have to congratulate AcousticAl for being the first to
brave the waters and open himself up to responses from the TG
Each week I will be looking at all the videos that get uploaded,
commenting on some, and posting video responses to a few. This is
going to be a great way for the entire TG Community to grow and
To get the instructions for loading videos for review please visit
the forum category under Target Members Only called "Uploaded
Videos for Review" ...If you are not a Target member then join the
new group created in the community section to follow students and
also check out the new YOUTUBE channel www.youtube.com/user/TargetStudentReviews
Make sure you leave Happy and positive comments, it is such a huge
deal to show their videos , we think they are all rockstars...
We have just announced a new contest here at TotallyGuitars.com. We
have posted a humorous video of You Tube guitar teachers one of our
TARGET members came across. The person with the best video reply
posted in the forum will win. The video must include Neil and/or TG
TARGET Members can win a Flip HD Video Camera
Free Members can win 12 months of TARGET access free!
Rules: Be tasteful, no copyright issues, make it fun/funny.
TG reserves the right to post your video anywhere in our forum.
Contest ends until the end of September.
Go for it!
TARGET Live! update-
Depending on when you are getting, or reading this, there might
still be time to jump on board and catch this week's episode of TG
Live. We are broadcasting Saturday, August 29, at noon in
California, 3:00 PM in New York, and 9:00 PM in Europe.
Questions have been pouring in all week and I hope to get to most
of them, but my guess is we'll all get sidetracked into playing the
ukulele or something. Or maybe playing Something on the ukulele.
This week we worked on polishing the Master Menu for all our
members. When finished the Master Menu will allow you to see all
content on the site in a user friendly format and will include
difficulty level. We are about 90% done with this site feature.
This week has seen the addition of 3 new lessons for our TARGET
members. I started with Van Morrison's Moondance, showing how to
play the rhythm using a jazz comping technique, done fingerstyle,
then changing into strumming with a pick. The difficult part of
this is switching smoothly from fingers to a pick, without missing
a beat. I demonstrate a technique I call the 'hidden pick trick',
something that I probably developed when I was a kid working on
coin and card tricks.
TARGET Members access Moondance here
A week after a trip to Hawaii, it seemed that I should throw in a
little ukulele lesson. The second addition this week was shot in my
hotel room at the Hilo Hawaiian last week and features a nice
background of tropical plants outside my balcony. Of course this
caused a few lighting problems but I'm sure you can suffer through
them and get the idea.
The lesson is on a couple of standards made popular by Israel
Kamakawiwo'ole on his album Facing Future in 1993- Over The Rainbow
and What A Wonderful World. The lesson includes a comparison
between the ukulele and the guitar and how to translate chord
shapes to make sense to a guitar player. The techniques needed to
play are really similar so it's mostly a matter of a few small
The last song to appear this week is a fun strumming song for
beginners, Nights In White Satin. It is pretty basic as far as the
chords are concerned, although there are a few F (barre) chords
involved, and it uses a simple strumming pattern, even though it is
in 6/4 time. Nothing to worry about, it's just like 3/4 only twice
as long, as you may have guessed.
TARGET Members access Nights In White Satin here
Free Members access TARGET Preview here
I hope to get three more lessons up next week but there is so much
happening here that I have to be careful about making promises.
Following is a recap of some of the details about the TARGET
The TARGET Program is pretty revolutionary as far as an online
teaching system goes in that it is very interactive. There are many
ways that I stay in touch and interact with my online students. We
have an exclusive section in our Forum where I answer questions
from members, as well as take requests for upcoming lessons.
This interactivity even reaches out to live broadcasts for our
members where we play some songs, help resolve music problems, and
generally have an online group get together in real time. These
episodes are part of out TG Live! Series.
If you are serious about improving your guitar abilities I really
encourage you to join our TARGET Program while it is still open. I
can't say how many students we will be able to handle but I know
there will be a limit as to how many I feel I can work with. I want
to be able to devote the same time and attention to my online
students as I do for students I see in my studio every week.
I really have to thank everybody for many of the comments that have
been coming in. You guys are great!
Best Acoustic Site on the Internet
I have been lurking around a lot of other sites over the years.
Totally Guitars is definitely the best. I know it takes a lot of
work to put the lessons out. My hat is off to you for the way
impressive way you keep quickly getting out great content. My set
list is getting my bigger quickly becaouse of you.
Thanks to Neil and all the people behind the scenes. You guys are
yeah I would agree that it's the best acoustic site on the internet.
There is so much free stuff available on the internet that I
haven't been tempted to subscribe to anything before, but the
teaching is so good that I couldn't resist.
Then the Pirates starting talking about the Flintstones, before
sanity once again prevailed-
Kreike!! Al, Chas is this what happens when you turn Platinum, I
think your playing in the deep water. As far as this being the best
Guitar forum on the internet I just realized it's cause of you guys
& gals (got to be PC). Really if I hadn't happened on to TG I would
never have started playing again after many years of just going in
circles not progressing. TG gives the tools an a lot of cool songs
and if you can't learn at least the intermediate ones it's cause
you ain't practicing enough. It's all there with Neil's smiling
face and great interpretation of some of my fav songs.
Gary, You've gotta laugh a little along the way or its not worth
I have it on good authority that Bear is protected by the ASPCA but
is actually on the PETA hit list...
No doubt about the humor and laughs. That's probably why I spend a
good bit of time on the TG forums. Be pretty boring if we talked
about theory all the time. Where can you learn about water buffalo
hats or Fez and the importance and meaning. I mean, it keeps me
going just to see what's next. Ya'all keep up the good work.
Checked out the Pay for Lesson and was just wondering.... I went to
the Master Menu, then to the Pay Per Lesson section, then to VAN
expanded it and found Brown Eyed girl. The song option for Brown
Eyed girl read "Brown Eyed Girl - Target Short". What does that
mean? You only get a Target Short lesson if you choose that as the
pay for song you wish to learn? I am confused?
Brown Eyed Girl is a Target Short. Its not a full Target lesson,
but it is enough to learn the song. Thats what the Target members
When you do the song purchase, you get the same thing Target
members get for that song.
A TARGET Short is still a complete lesson, meaning everything you
need to play a song all the way through is included. The main
difference is that a TARGET Short is usually 1 video rather than
8-10 individual videos, like the full TARGET lessons. Many songs do
not require the in-depth descriptions and explanations that are in
the full lessons.
A Short usually includes everything I teach a student about a
particular song. It's just that the song may not be as complex as
some others. This does not necessarily mean it is easier than the
full lessons, just that it may not require as much information.
Most of the Shorts are 15-25 minutes long and include everything
that would be included in the 'Break It Down' segment of a full
lesson, as well as clear descriptions of what each hand does.
A good example of a TARGET Short in the free section would be Sweet
I always knew Neil was magic! That 'hidden pic' trick is great!!
Excellent TG Short.
You beat me to even announcing this song. I was going to write a
very long and detailed story about its creation, as well as all
kinds of other useless info, and introduce it with a big fanfare.
Unfortunately, it kept getting delayed because the intro became its
own HUGE project and I just decided to publish it using a more
stealth approach in the middle of last night. Thanks for sparing me
the work! Here is how far I got (really just a short Blog post).
Today we have added Van Morrison's Moondance to the TARGET Program.
This short lesson goes over a percussive rhythm vamp done
fingerstyle, switching into a pattern strummed with a pick, which
is also used to play the bass riff in the chorus. It includes what
I call the 'hidden pick trick', which is a technique to quickly
change from playing with fingers to playing with a pick, without
missing a beat or fumbling around for the pick.
This arrangement of Moondance is mostly an accompaniment for vocals
or backing track for a lead, but includes a great rhythm pattern
that is very useful in a lot of jazzy vamp situations where the
chord is accented on beats 1 and 2+ of the measure while the bass
stays steady on the beats. Hopefully the lesson explains this a
As usual, I hope everybody enjoys it and I look forward to comments
Some recent Q&A-
Stephen Stills use of alternate tunings
Would like to see your material reposted for Steven Stills
alternate tunings on songs such as 4 + 20 and possibly suite judy
blue eyes. In your CS&N section I see only one song and at one time
thought you had more advanced material on this groups acoustic
Hey Norm! Welcome to the program! We're happy to have you! If you
wouldn't mind, we'd like to have you introduce yourself on the
Please Introduce Yourself thread. Where you hail from, what are
your music tastes, where are you on your guitar learning journey
etc. It's painless!
As far as Shephen Stills goes since Neil Hogan is a huge Neil Young
fan we're hoping for some C,S,N & Y songs, too. I think Stills is
one of the great guitarists of our time and his music fit his band
I particular like 4+20 and its E-E-E-E-B-E tuning. It is a
quintessential folk rock song! I love to play it when I'm not too
lazy ro retune my guitar.
One thing you should know about requesting songs. First, Neil must
like the tune. And second, it must have teaching value, ie teach
some new technique or approach. It could be the greatest song of
all time (well second, because Stairway to Heaven is already on
TARGET!) and Neil won't do it.
Anyway, welcome again and good luck with this incredible library of
songs to learn!
I am definitely going to be getting to lessons on songs in this
tuning, probably starting with 4+20 then into Suite: Judy Blue
Eyes. Here is my take on the tuning-
It is well known that Steve Stills used a modal tuning, meaning no
3rd in this case, so no commitment to major or minor tonality. It
is also well known and documented that sometimes he was tuned to E,
sometimes to Eb, and sometimes to D. The tuning is indeed EEEEBE,
although I will be doing all songs 1 step lower in D as it is much
easier on the guitar and strings.
The tuning I will be using is a little different, it will be DADDAD
(the equivalent of EBEEBE in standard tuning), as there is no
logical reason, or even reasonable reason to tune the 5th string to
be in unison with the 6th string, especially if you leave it as the
5th of the scale rather than the root. Stills never uses the 5th
string for anything significant (or even noticeable) in any of
these songs. It is at least useful and convenient, and really even
a big improvement to leave it alone for this modal tuning.
I hate to bring up a similar misguided concept but there are some
guitar players who think it is a good idea to put a guitar in open
G tuning and REMOVE the 6th string for the best sound, which is
otherwise unobtainable. Most of my students learn to have enough
control to not hit the 6th string if it is not part of the chord.
Going to the trouble of removing it to improve the guitar is
baffling, mind boggling, and even downright stupid. I didn't mean
to turn this into a rant on anybody in particular but, trust me,
you CAN play Honky Tonk Women with 6 strings.
OK, I didn't mean to rant and ramble (well, maybe I didn't), but I
just wanted to clear up a problem before it arose when everybody
sees all the YouTube experts saying you need to be in 'Stills'
tuning to play Stills' songs. If he had only taken lessons from
somebody else. As it was, Stills said he got this tuning from Bruce
Palmer, an occasional bass player for the Buffalo Springfield who
was already over matched with 4 strings. I'm pretty sure he put a
lot of thought into the best use of 6 strings.
Oops, I tried to tie this post up a couple of times and it just
kept on with a life of its own. I rest my case and will get to some
Stills' songs soon, in slightly improved versions.
The TG Blog
The Blog has been full of announcements this week but they have all
appeared above in this Newsletter by now so until next time,
To get to the blog click here www.totallyguitars.com/blog
Stay tuned & in touch,
P.S. - Feel free to get back to me on the blog and on the forum to
let me know what else YOU would like to see in this weekly
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