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Is Neil A Closet Tom Petty Fan? 10 Years, 11 Months ago  
TG Newsletter #17 - September 12th, 2009

-What's going on at Totally Guitars?
-Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...
-On The Video Front
-Ask Neil
-The TG Blog

What's Going On? On this beautiful, but warm September day here in
Northern California, there is much to report about the recent
happenings at TotallyGuitars. We have updates on the Master Menu,
the Campfire Versions, upcoming TG Live for TARGET members, and a
lot happening on the video side, especially related to our members
videos being uploaded to our Student Review YouTube channel.

Master Menu is constantly being updated and
improved to be the place where you can instantly access all the
videos at TG. There are 3 separate columns that clearly show what
is free and available to all our visitors, stuff that is only
accessible to our TARGET members, as well as lessons that are
available on a Pay-Per-Lesson basis.

Big Jim has done a great job of categorizing everything and making
sure lessons are marked with their level of difficulty, whether
they are Campfire Versions or not, which are Complete Free Lessons
and which are Partial Free Lessons (Previews or Samples), and where
you can find videos from the In Concert or More Of The Story

The biggest news along these lines is probably that the Master Menu
is now accessible from all pages in the site, as it is part of the
main menu bar at the top of each page.

Master Menu: www.totallyguitars.com/index.php?option=...=article&id=3358

TARGET Live! - www.totallyguitars.com/target-homepage/tg-live
Hopefully you are getting this in time, as our next episode of TG
Live for TARGET members is Saturday, September 12 at 3:00 PM in
California. We will be addressing questions that the members have
been posting on the Forum lately, as well as strumming through one
of our recent Campfire songs, probably John Denver's Take Me Home,
Country Roads.

I hope everybody can do their own time zone conversion and join us
for what should be a really fun time.

TARGET Members Click Here To See The Latest TG Live

The Campfire VersionsI wasn't really sure about the series of
videos I was shooting that have become part of what we are calling
the Campfire Series, but the general feedback has been pretty
positive. These are songs that can be played lots of different ways
and the approach I am taking is along the lines of stripping the
song down to basic chords and strums and really making more of a
sing-a-long version.

Most of these videos are being made available for free to all our
visitors but I will be adding some more detailed parts to some of
the songs that will be exclusive clips for our TARGET members soon.
These expanded versions might include intros, connecting bass runs,
and even simple lead parts.

Some of the recent additions include songs by Green Day, Nirvana,
the Counting Crows, John Denver, the Eagles, and of course, the
Beatles. I almost got to a Tom Petty song but had a little trouble
starting it. I will give a little more insight into that in the
following article on recent video happenings.

Lessons Here: www.totallyguitars.com/classic-riffchord-songs

Part of the goal with the Campfire Versions is to help my students
build their repertoire with some easy songs that could be at a
performable stage with minimal time and work involved. I would
classify most of these arrangements as level 1 to level 4 songs.

I started feeling like we were overwhelming folks with all the new
material lately, and decided to hold off a bit on new TARGET songs.
I think giving everybody a little room to breathe and absorb some
of the Campfire Songs was the right move. Besides, with all the
action on the Forum and the user-driven discussion groups, I'm not
sure anybody is practicing enough right now anyway.

Next week we might get back on a regular release schedule.

Following is the usual info about the TARGET Program.

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.

Check out the TARGET Program here

On The Video Front
Here is another set of things that has been keeping students from
practicing. We have set up our own YouTube channel for where TARGET
members can upload their own videos. Right now they are doing this
for a couple of different reasons.

One is to post videos of them playing songs that they are working
on so other members can offer critiques and suggestions. I am sure
to watch every one and will get back to commenting and posting
answering videos soon. In the meantime, our other members are doing
a great job with comments and suggestions.

The other development on the video side is a little competition
that Matt started for people to create their own videos related to
TG and post them in the channel as well. This has led to a bunch of
great ideas and people are creating really entertaining clips. I
hope you can check them out on the Forum.
Competition: www.totallyguitars.com/forum?func=view&a...atid=93&id=10055

A little side note- as I was starting to shoot a short lesson by a
somewhat famous guitar playing popular figure on the entertainment
scene, I got a little tongue-tied trying to find just the right set
of words to describe this legend in somebody's mind. I never did
get back to the lesson but the outtake of my introduction was just
goofy enough for me to enter the competition myself. The thread to
look for if you'd like to see it is called, "Can I Play Too???"
Forum Thread: www.totallyguitars.com/forum?func=view&a...atid=93&id=11969

I also recently ran across some home videos that were shot last
year at a casual gig I did with a trio- guitar, flute and bass. We
were background music for a private party held at the Ritz Carlton
Hotel in Half Moon Bay, here in Northern California. The audio and
video qualities are way below par for our normal TG videos but I
thought our viewers might get a kick out of seeing a little
different side of music. It is not very often I get a chance to
work with other musicians. It was a lot of fun. You can check out
the series of videos in the In Concert section. The set is called
Live At The Ritz.
In Concert: www.totallyguitars.com/in-concert

From The Forums
Here is an interesting thread that developed this week. Some of our
visitors were comparing notes on practice time.

From Karl
How Much Do You Play?

Just wondering how many hours a day you play guitar. How much time
spent learning new songs, scales, riffs etc. vs just playing stuff
you already know. My wife says I play too much now that I joined
this site.

From BillKarl, when all else fails, LIE! Tell your wife that Oprah
says you should be playing at least 6 hours a day.

From ChasThis is a phenomenon sweeping the Globe right now the
medical profession call it WifeTGitis.

From TerryKarl,

Great question. I practice almost every evening from about 10:00PM
to Midnight. That is why I am on the site now. Checking things out
before I start and thought I would let you know what I do.
Well---------it's time to hit "Classical Gas for another two hours.
I hope to post it the next week some time.
From SuzikoI started playing about 2 years ago, but for the first
year I just noodled around whenever I thought about it. This year
my new year's resolution was to play at least 5 hours/week. I
almost never play on the weekend so that amounts to about 1hr/day.
This might sound like the most obvious statement possible, but it
was amazing how much faster i made progress when I started
practicing regularly and for a longer stretch each time. Of course,
this forum is becoming a distraction for me! I should be practicing
right now!

From ChasIt may appear to some that I spend every wakening hour on
this site , but thats not quite true. I have been off work lately
and nothing else to do but spend my time here. Normal useage would
be significantly less. Time on Guitar varies depending on what I'm
learning. Minimum , an hour a day.
From Bear
Good question Karl! I play a minimum of 1 hour per day to a max of
3 hours (depending on if there is anything good on the idiot box!)
Weekends I try to get 2-3 hours per day.

I have a little ritual where I start with 25% of my practice
session on scales and leads. Then I spend 50% on TARGET songs I'm
working on (usually about 6), then the last 25% is on new stuff
that usually isn't related to TARGET or may be songs over my head
like Windy and Warm, Classical Gas or Romanza.

If I have extra time, I play my old favorites just to keep up on
them but with TARGET I have so many new favorites I've been
neglecting my old stuff, especially those old Am ballads that put
people to sleep!

And don't piss off the wife! Someday you may want a new guitar!!


From Eagle
My practice time starts at 10:00pm during the week and lasts most
nights until 11:00, sometimes 12:00am, it just depends on how
energetic I am. Weekends I spend about 2 hours a day practicing. I
usually start out playing a half dozen songs that I know, then work
a little on riffs and then log in and play along with Neil for
awhile. Lately it has been a real challenge to stay focused,
because of all the new material Neil has added. I guess that is a
good problem to have though.

From Willem
Over day time i drive a cab (contract/drives) and between the
drives i'm at home and play a hour or study a lesson,the most i
strum because a friend of mine does the riffs and i try them a
little bit(more and more), one time in the month we come with
friends together and then we try the new or old stuff,the lady's
are singing then,in hours to the week i practice 5 hours, but at
one time one hour and then relax......

Forum Thread: www.totallyguitars.com/forum?func=view&a...atid=24&id=11643

ASK Neil
Some recent Q&A:

Don't Like Picks

Hi Neil; ok my first question to you - I've never used a pick &
feel like I'm losing control when I do. I've always strummed w/ my
thumb, but see you strum with your middle finger on the down &
index on the up. Since my nails are short & am using brass strings;
the up & down sound very different because there is no nail
involved on the up. Is this making sense; my question - is it awful
to use my thumb?

Reply From Andy


I don't use picks either. Grow those nails out a bit and use your
thumb. Use both depending on the sound you want.

Neil's Answer


The idea of using middle and ring fingers for the downs and index
is to use nails down and flesh up. This gives the downs a stronger
accent and is more interesting than both strokes having the same
tone. Usually, when you use the thumb, you get the same sound for
the downs and the ups. It really boils down to what sound you are
looking for in a particular song.

Another reason I like students to us different fingers is to start
the groundwork for the coordination necessary for fingerpicking a
little later.

Then From AcousticAl

I'm still trying to get used to a pick too, Barb. I've used one for
a while- but I hold it with 3 fingers (2 fingers + thumb). It's not
how Neil holds his, so I'm trying to correct that.

I find that it slips and moves around when I'm trying to do it
Neil's way. Especially when I relax and try not to hold it too

Then From BigBear

I started learning the guitar with a pick and then had to learn to
use fingers later. I don't think any guitarist should limit their
playing skills by not using a pick. Even the Great Oz, I mean Neil,
uses a pick for many songs although I'd bet he's far more
comfortable doing fingerstyle.

Learning to use a pick gives you the ability to play with a
crispness and punch that is harder to get from nails. And unless
you are Mark Knopfler playing lead guitar can be pretty challenging
without a pick!
TARGET Members Click here for Ask Neil

The TG Blog
The latest entry-

September 9th, 2009- TG Live and New Live Videos

Hi Gang,

We will be going live again for our TARGET members this Saturday,
September 12 at 3:00 PM California time. That translates to 6:00 PM
in New York, 11:00 PM in the UK, midnight in Europe. I hope
everybody can join us, but for those who can't, we will have it
archived and ready to view in perpetuity a day or so later. TARGET
Members click here when it is time for the broadcast.

We also have been posting a whole bunch of new tunes that are part
of the Campfire Versions. It is probably hard to keep up but the
current batch are all Complete Free Lessons and will be appearing
with their own little flame icon. I am really thrilled at the
reactions we have gotten to these and I will be expanding the
format and making slightly more detailed ones that will be
available to our TARGET members soon. These might even include full
sing-a-longs. Keep the comments and suggestions coming as we
certainly appreciate the input.

Live At The Ritz

I have recently come across a home video that was shot last
September (2008) of a live performance I did as part of a trio.
This is they type of gig musicians refer to as a 'casual'- mostly
background music and not really structured. We were just part of
the atmosphere for a private party, outdoors on a cliff overlooking
the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. As
something I don't do very often, this type of thing can be a lot of
fun. My friends Suzanne Weller (flute) and David Hollin (bass), and
I really just improvised our way through a bunch of jazz standards
and classic rock tunes, working from charts I had put together, as
well as some from a popular book known as 'The Real Book.'

Events like this can be fun because the approach we take is nothing
at all like we would for a concert performance. We really are free
to play whatever we want, anyway we want, for as long as we want.
Most of the tunes then are stretched out into jam sessions and
really created on the fly. As such, we are certainly not worried
about mistakes, and especially about correcting them, as we are
creating a new soundscape as we move along. As a matter of fact, I
would even have to say that there were no mistakes at all the
entire evening. Now, there were plenty of 'unplanned' notes and
events, but it all contributed to a good time had by all.

I hope you can excuse the overall quality, as we were not really
focused on making a professional recording. We just wanted a
personal archive for the family scrapbook. The 'Live At The Ritz'
videos are over in the In Concert section under the TG Videos tab.

Stay tuned & in touch,


To get to the blog click here.

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

Not A TARGET Member Yet? Check TARGET out here Join today before
the $19.95 a month memberships are gone! Get locked in at this
price while you still can.

Don't want a monthly subscription? Check out our pay-per-lesson
option. www.totallyguitars.com/online-guitar-lessons
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