This week the main news is the new lesson on Imagine. It's funny, I
hadn't really thought too much about doing this instrumental version
of the song but a while ago I put it together for a student and we
touched on it again last week. It reminded me that there were a lot
of great techniques that are addressed in the arrangement. I hope
you have had a chance to check it out. The free version is up now in
the TARGET Previews section but only includes the slo-mo-two-handed
-split-screen play through, with the TAB of course.
I will be working on the TARGET version next week, which will
include great detail about all of the tricky moves involved.
TG Live! For TARGET members-
After a few unforeseen delays, we have found a time that we can put
on an episode of TG Live! exclusively for our TARGET members. It
will be Thursday, July 18 at 9:00pm Eastern Time (6:00 here on the
west coast). Watch your message boxes for specific details.
I would really encourage everybody to join the TARGET Program in
order to be a part of these get-togethers. The episodes, which we
hope to do every couple of weeks, will give me a chance to be even
more personally involved with you.
My CDs and guitar arrangements-
We have also been working on a way to make some of my early
recordings and guitar arrangements available to you. As some of you
may know, I have done solo guitar albums that included Beatles
songs (A Beatles Collection), American standards like Over The
Rainbow and Ain't Misbehavin' (Yesterday's News), and holiday
classics (A Christmas Collection), as well as 3 discs of my own
compositions (On The Horizon, Cobble Creek, and El Dorado).
Very soon we will be delivering digital downloads to any interested
parties. Most of the arrangements are available as well.
And one last thing-
I would also like to talk a little about something that has created
a bit of confusion and disappointment, apparently. As many people
have noticed, here are many songs where the Play Through segment of
the lesson incorporates the vocal melody to the song along with the
guitar accompaniment. In the case of some of the songs, if that
wasn't there you probably wouldn't even know what song it was
(Who'll Sop The Rain for example). In others, like Wish You Were
Here, the rhythm and lead guitar parts are combined.
Each of these versions was basically improvised and not really
"arranged." I will be doing lessons on this type of playing in the
near future. Most of these lessons will fall into the advanced
category as I really want to teach students how to create these
arrangements rather than just copy mine. Each of these songs should
come out quite differently every time you play them. This means
they require solid technical skills as well as a broad knowledge of
the theory involved.
I still have to figure out the best way to approach this and the
sequence of songs to try but I am definitely looking forward to it!
The big news about the TARGET Program this week is that I am in the
middle of working on Imagine for our members. The instrumental
arrangement I put together seems simple and straightforward on the
surface. There are a whole bunch of very subtle things that make it
a great song to learn some new techniques. In particular, each time
you plat the F chord your fingers need to go down in a different
order. Stay tuned for more on this as the lesson develops.
Following is a recap of some of the details 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.
The latest free lesson is the play through version of Imagine. It is
presented with the split-screen showing a close up of each hand.
This version includes the TAB but none of the explanations and
examples that will be in the TARGET version
Here are some comments on Imagine that we've received recently:
Imagine for Solo Guitar-
Great, I can't wait for the complete lessons, thanks!!
...good but misses the message...
This song was written by John Lennon and performed on the piano with
the melody sung by john Lennon.
I generally don't like songs that were written for voice that are
later re written to have the guitar carry both the melody and the
There are several James Taylor songs floating around the internet
I would rather hear you sing it and play the guitar.
Having said that, you did a pretty good job of capturing the essence
of the entire song on the guitar.
Remember though imagine is a powerful song because of its lyrics.
The piano work was just adequate nothing special really.
The strong message of Imagine is in the words.
There are other Beatles songs that you can listen to and you really
hone in on the harmony and the guitar work - I'm thinking of "And
this bird can sing" where the lyrics could have been anything. Its
the music that is powerful.
Imagine is not one of those songs. The music is nothing and the
words are everything.
So, if I were you, I would sing it.
I actually love the way you play the song with the melody included.
This is because I can't sing and when playing this song I want
people to be able to identify and enjoy it. Also, when you try to
sing the song the listeners immediately compare your version to the
original performer (John Lennon) and unless you can sing just as
good you just end up murdering the song.
and then you have to get personal about my singing...
Well, Neil's not a great singer (though he's certainly a lot better
than me.) One of the things I love about this site is that is seems
geared to playing without singing. "Imagine" has a great melody, and
I'm not sure why anyone would object to anyone else learning it.
After all, you can still play it and sing along if you like.
The TG Blog
The latest Blog posts have touched on Imagine and the upcoming
episode of TG Live! for our TARGET members. Here they are in case
you missed them.
A quick note to let you know about a new lesson under construction.
A little while ago one of my students wanted to work on an
intermediate arrangement of John Lennon's Imagine. We worked out a
nice little version that I thought many of you would like to play. I
have only finished the split-screen segment of a play through but I
figured I could leak it to all of our viewers while I work on the
TARGET lesson. The complete lesson will include much of the usual
stuff but particularly some commentary on passages that are a bit
deceiving and confusing.
In the meantime, I've attached the TAB and I'd love a little
feedback on the tune, including any mistakes or omissions you might
find! It is in the Video section under the TARGET Previews category.
Q&A for Neil
...where to start. your melody tab is slightly different from the
official melody tab and the different version you play at end of the
breakdown are all correct because the dead never play the same
thing the same way twice. i wanna do it the way you do in the play
through with the bar chords on the 3rd? and 5th? frets. but im
having a hard time picking out what your playing. (tone deaf newbie,
lol) i was wondering if you could just tab that part for me (us)and
i can work it in myself. thnx.
I have a few lessons where the Play Through is done differently than
what is presented in the lesson. Some of the songs I do this with
are Madman Across The Water, Who'll Stop The Rain, Wish You Were
Here, and Ripple. Most of those include playing multiple parts
together, turning it into an instrumental solo.
Most of the lessons in the Song Library are designed to teach you
how to play the song, as if you were the guitar player in the band,
or to play and sing it by yourself. The solo instrumental versions
of many of them will be added as I get to more of the advanced
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
Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin.
The beginning of 1969 was a busy time for Led Zeppelin. They spent
January through August doing seven separate tours in support of
their first album. During this time they were also trying to write
and record songs for a second album. Most of the tracks on Led
Zeppelin II were written, recorded, and mixed on the road in any
available studio, frequently at the spur of the moment.
The album was a huge evolutionary step from their first as they
really brought their influences together. Their blues-based sound
became more guitar oriented and the songs were more riff-based. The
production responsibilities were taken over by Jimmy Page and
ex-Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, which really starting shaping the
future of the band and rock music in general.
Robert Plant really came into his own as his singing style became
more refined. He never felt comfortable with the band through
sessions for the first album and wasn't even sure he would stay with
them. His vocal and songwriting contributions to the second album
changed all this and he became an integral part of the mix.
Heartbreaker is the first song on the second side of Led Zeppelin II
and opens with the classic riff that inspired countless other songs
and bands. The song also features a legendary unaccompanied guitar
solo that was completely improvised and used techniques that would
soon inspire a young Eddie Van Halen to develop the famous left hand
tapping technique. The solo was not even recorded at the same
session as the rest of the song but edit in during mixing. It also
was the first time Jimmy Page had used his 1959 Les Paul with a
Marshall stack, a combination that would be associated with him and
the band through the rest of their years.
The song also features some innovative bass techniques as John Paul
Jones used power chords and fed the sound through a rotating Leslie
speaker cabinet, a common way of amplifying an organ at the time.
Heartbreaker is a perfect example of a riff-based song in the key of
A. The riff is a simple ascent through a blues scale (1-b3-4-b5-5)
ending with an octave drop to the flatted 7th. It is played twice on
the tonic before moving to the 2nd step of the key, although in
traditional blues this would change to the 4th step. It then returns
to the tonic. In the bridge section the riff is played on 3 other
steps, arriving on the dominant (E), before heading into the
The verse to Heartbreaker is mainly power chords with some tricky
syncopation, and a measure at the end in 5/4 time. This lesson works
on right hand alternating techniques as well as complicated timing
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