- Information about the "lesson notes" found in the T.A.R.G.E.T.
What's Going On?
Welcome to the 3rd edition of our TotallyGuitars Newsletter. There
are a few changes on the horizon that I’d like everybody to know
about. Some of them are related to the layout of the website. We are
moving the TG Blog and the TG Forum sections. They can soon be
found under the TG Community menu. This way we are keeping most of
the interactive parts of TotallyGuitars all together. So do not
panic when the forum and blog community tabs disappear.
Speaking of the TG Community, I am really excited with the amount of
participation going on there. I hope everybody is taking advantage
of the great resources our members have to offer each other. There
are a lot of groups there that swap information about various
bands, gear, styles, even geographic locations of members (come on,
there has to be more than 1 member of the TG Nebraska contingent!).
I was surprised to see a heading in the Beatles group about the Get
Back Sessions. It made me go back to my secret stash of hard to find
albums and slog through a bit of the Get Back Journals and some
other prized possessions from Yellow Dog and Vigotone. I will try to
let this be the end of obscure references…
I hope everybody has had a chance to look at the latest TARGET
lesson on Yesterday. It seemed like a perfect song to look at from a
couple of different angles. The way Paul McCartney played it is
pretty basic and a good solid accompaniment to the vocals. It also
makes a nice, intermediate level fingerstyle solo piece. The
arrangement is one I have shown many students over the years.
Following is a recap of some of the details about the
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
Latest Free Lessons/TARGET Previews
The free lessons section is full of short lessons on some great
songs, most of which include downloadable TAB. We also have a video
section that has previews of lessons available in the TARGET
Program. These previews give you a little taste of the complete
songs in the program.
I have just finished a bit of an oddball song- If You Want My Love
(You Got It) by Cheap Trick. The version I actually put together was
brought to my attention by a student who had found a YouTube video
of Paul Dempsey playing it live on a radio show. He is a member of a
popular Australian band Something For Kate. It is an easy strumming
song but includes a few unusual chords, a lot of bar chords as
well. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Here are some comments on lessons we’ve received recently:
Down on the Corner-
Wow! That was great!...this is truly something that I can work at...
Thanks Neil:)...you have inspired me to play harder than ever before
...I didn't know where I could turn to at one time to try and learn
how to play since buying my first guitar and now, I found the right
place...thanks a million Neil!
Great lesson. This video totally helped me conquer the difficult
fingering changes in this song.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
The sign of a GREAT guitar teacher is the fact that no matter how
easy the song may be, they take their time with the lesson and don't
rush through it. And, they look like they're having fun doing so!
Not going about it like they are bored to death, or they want to go
and make a sandwich or something!! THANKS, NEIL!
The TG Blog
Here is a story I posted a couple of months ago on the Blog but
since we have added many new viewers I thought I’d share it again.
Once again my TotallyGuitars endeavors have uncovered something I
had almost forgotten about. About 10 years ago I was hired to play
at a 70th birthday party for a newspaper columnist in the
San Francisco Bay area named Ray Orrock. His column was syndicated
around the country but mainly appeared in papers in the East Bay. He
was a bit like Herb Caen was to San Francisco.
The dinner party was at a nice country club in
Pleasanton, California with about a dozen members of his family.
It was mostly a normal background music gig where I played quiet
instrumentals during dinner, except for the enthusiastic greeting
I received from the guest of honor as he entered the room. It turns
out he and his son had been looking for me for quite awhile.
There was one other very unusual thing as far as these type of gigs
go. After dinner Ray called for everyone's attention, introduced
me, told the group a little about their search for me, and asked me
to play my arrangement of Over The Rainbow. I said sure, and headed
into it expecting the usual conversation to start up any second,
as is generally the case at these types of engagements. Amazingly,
you could have heard a pin drop throughout the entire song as the
crowd quietly absorbed every note coming out of my guitar. I don't
believe I had ever been in front of a more respectful and attentive
group in my life.
As the last harmonic faded away, I was not sure what to expect as a
stunned silence filled the room. Everybody just sort of looked
around and at each other as if they had just been a part of a
magical moment. As they started applauding, with more restraint than
enthusiasm, it seemed we had all been part of a very spiritual
experience and were not quite sure what to make of it. I guess it
will have to go down as one of those "you had to be there" events.
I feel very lucky to have been there. That night I formed a real
bond with the Orrock family and went home with a feeling that very
few musicians ever get, sincere appreciation for their art.
A few days later my phone started ringing off the hook with requests
for my album Yesterday's News, which included Over The Rainbow.
After 5 or 6 orders for the album I asked a customer what made them
call. I was surprised to hear that an article about me had appeared
in the Oakland Tribune and I should be expecting a lot of calls, as
when Ray Orrock writes, people listen.
Five years later the Orrock family again contacted me and we all
reconvened for Ray's 75th birthday party at the same club and
another enchanted evening came to pass. We made a date for his 80th,
which would have been this year but Ray passed away in March of
2008. I am certainly thankful for having met him and his wonderful
family and for their appreciation of music.
I find it somewhat ironic that I sit here writing about journalist
Ray Orrock, but I wanted to share his column with the TotallyGuitars
Community. I hope you enjoy it.
The Search For Neil Hogan
By Ray Orrock
Thursday, January 28, 1999
MARLENE AND THE KIDS set up a family birthday dinner for me a few
days ago, and as the 12 of us were entering the banquet room they'd
reserved, my son Mark turned to me and said: "We arranged to have
some Neil Hogan music playing during dinner."
"That'll be great," I said ...
A LITTLE OVER a year ago, a bunch of us rented a beach house in
Santa Cruz, and the first day we were there, someone found a tape
and put it on the stereo -- and within moments the room was filled
with some of the most exquisite acoustic guitar chords I've ever
Almost all the guitar sounds heard today are electrified -- charged
with a sort of piercing vibrancy and pureed through an amp -- but
there's a maturity to pure acoustic guitar that, in the hands of a
good musician, can mellow the mind and soothe the soul.
It was a medley of Beatles tunes, and after listening for a few
minutes I asked my wife "Who is that? That's beautiful stuff."
She picked up the cassette and read the print on it. "His name is
Neil Hogan," she said. "I've never heard of him."
"Neither have I," I admitted. "But I've gotta get one of those
We played the Hogan tape all weekend, and as people of all ages
wandered in and out of the beach house, almost invariably they'd
say: "Boy, that's nice music. Who is that?"
WHEN WE GOT home, Mark and I embarked on a search, and soon learned
that Neil Hogan was the musical equivalent of the Invisible Man.
No one had ever heard of him. He was unknown in small record shops
which prided themselves on musical trivia; and the large stores
would type his name into their computer, and FILE NOT FOUND would
We spent over a year trying to track down this master of the
acoustic guitar, with no luck whatsoever. Finally, Mark drove all
the way back to Santa Cruz just to read the label on the Hogan
cassette, and found "Joplin & Sweeney Music Co." But no
indication of where it was located.
Hoping that it might be somewhere in the Bay Area, he began going
through phone books, starting with San Francisco and Oakland; and
about a week later he found it -- in Los Gatos. And two days before
my birthday, he presented me with two Neil Hogan CDs -- the Beatles
album and one with a batch of Ellington and Gershwin standards. I
was ecstatic. I played them all weekend...
... so as we were entering the room, Mark said there'd be Neil Hogan
music during dinner, and I said that'd be great, and then Mark
said: "In fact, there he is."
And there he was.
Sitting on a stool in the corner of the room, acoustic guitar
perched on his lap, was the real, live, maddeningly elusive Neil
Hogan. My family had told him of our yearlong search, and he had
graciously consented to perform a private concert at my birthday
And what a concert it was. He played throughout dinner; and then,
after coffee, as all 12 of us sat there in rapt silence, he ended
with a rendition of "Over the Rainbow" that left us cross-eyed. His
wondrous fingers wove chords that spiraled softly up to the ceiling
and dripped harmony into our ears.
It was a birthday party I'll never forget.
A few months ago, I read about some millionaire in New York who
hired an entire symphony orchestra to play at his wife's birthday
Too bad. If he'd played his cards right, he might have had Neil
� 1998 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Q&A for Neil
Anchoring Right Hand When Finger Picking
I have been concentrating on fingerstyle and can't seem to stop my
pinky finger from anchoring on the sound board. I see that you
don't really recommend this I can see why it does lead to fatigue.
Any suggestions for breaking this habit?
…and a follow up…
Great question Mauro, I was just about to ask the same question. I
actually saw a video lesson from a fingerpicker who said that was
the way to do it.
So, I would like to add to the question, if I may, does it matter if
you anchor the pinky finger?
Anchoring your little finger when fingerpicking is very common among
players. Whether or not it is a good idea depends on a few things,
the main one being how many fingers you pick with. Some early blues
players, like Rev. Gary Davis and even Merle Travis only used their
index finger (along with the thumb of course) and anchored the rest
of their fingers.
Players who use two fingers, index and middle, frequently anchor as
well. Stefan Grossman claims that this allows him to hit the
strings harder. He has a very heavy handed approach to playing and
seems to think the more buzzes and snaps, the better.
I teach people to use three fingers in the classical style, no
anchor. When your ring finger is part of the team, anchoring your
little finger hinders its range of motion. A good range of motion
gives you a lot of control over the sound of every note, and even
lets you change where you hit the strings, i.e. near the bridge,
over the sound hole, or even over the fingerboard. I probably
shouldn't even mention playing artificial harmonics (using your
right hand alone for a harmonic while your left hand frets a note).
Guitarists who use this technique include John Renbourn, Keola
Beamer, and Laurence Juber. These are players who get a great sound
and quite a range of tonal variations.
In general, there are no advantages to anchoring your little finger
but there are some disadvantages. It is a habit worth correcting. As
a matter of fact, my son Coree, is dealing with this and other hand
position problems right now.
The Lesson Notes in TARGET Songs
Every song in he TARGET Program comes with a page of notes that goes
over some of the things in the lesson, as well as a few trivial
tidbits about the song. Here is an example from the Lesson Notes to
From The Beginning.
The progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer came together in
1970 as a ‘supergroup’, featuring members who were already
established in popular bands. Keith Emerson brought his classical
keyboard influences from the Nice, Greg Lake had been the bass
player and lead vocalist on the first two King Crimson albums, and
Carl Palmer was a young drum wizard who had been with Atomic Rooster
and earlier, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (their hit was Fire-
“I am the god of hell-fire…”).
Their first album featured mostly keyboard driven pyrotechnics in
extended compositions, as well as the acoustic ballad Lucky Man.
The success of the album encouraged the band to stick with a simila
r formula on successive ones so the inclusion of an acoustic ballad
became part of the game plan. Most of these pieces have become
favorites for guitar players to learn, as they are generally full of
interesting chords and unusual techniques.
Song Notes & Arrangement
From The Beginning was released on ELP’s third studio album Trilogy,
in 1972. The song features layered acoustic and electric guitars,
as well as Lake’s crystal clear voice. The song opens with a
free-form intro that is really just Lake messing around with notes
in the key of Am, followed by some arpeggios that are cross-picked,
before we hear the signature riff starting with a couple of bass
notes bent up a half step.
The verse to the song starts with a pair of extended chords (Am9 and
Dadd11) over a pedal point bass (A), and then continues into a
series of alternate-picked arpeggios before it returns to the
extended chords. The chorus continues the pattern of unusual chords,
Dm7 and G9, and then lands on a dissonant dominant chord, E7-9.
The song ends with a couple of nice solos, a lead guitar part played
over two verses and a chorus, then a keyboard solo played by
Emerson on his Moog synthesizer. An interesting side note is the
percussion part is played mostly on the toms without any real use of
the snare or cymbals.
Chords & Techniques
From The Beginning has all the elements that make Greg Lake’s
acoustic songs great- interesting sounds with the use of extended
chords, many of which use open strings for a sense of consistency,
harmonics, percussive strumming, arpeggio picking in both the
alternating and cross-picking styles, and slightly cryptic lyrics
that add to the mysterious quality. A must-learn tune for every
That’s it for this week!
Stay tuned and 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