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TOPIC: Totally Guitars Newsletter #5

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Totally Guitars Newsletter #5 11 Years, 1 Month ago  
TG Newsletter #5- June 19th, 2009

In this issue you'll find...

- What's going on at Totally Guitars?

- Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...

- Free lesson updates and more.

- The TG Blog

- Q&A between members and Neil.

- The Lesson Notes in TARGET Songs

What's Going On?

This was a pretty busy week here at TotallyGuitars, or maybe just for me as a dad and a musician. After a weekend in Las Vegas, for softball of course, where the weather was unusually cool, about 20 degrees cooler than last year, I returned home to Los Gatos where summer is finally starting to appear. I am now on track to get some more instructional stuff up very soon. 

TG Live! update-

We managed to pull off a really fun episode of TG Live last night for our TARGET members, at least those in US time zones. We spent a little time going over Imagine and Sweet Baby James, got birthday wishes out to my daughter Rebecca (still in Vegas) and Matt (TG-Matt that would be), and answered some of the questions that have been floating around for a few weeks.
I had a great time and I hope the members who could make it did as well. The video should be up in the TARGET section in a few days for those who missed it.
I’m sorry we had to schedule this at such an awkward time for many of our members but it was about the only open window I had for this week. Our next will probably be at a better time for our non-US time zone members.

TARGET Members Click Here To See The Latest TG Live

Changes On The Horizon-

As our TARGET members now know, there are a lot of new things coming to TG. We will be restructuring and rearranging many of the pages and sections over the next few weeks. Most of the changes are in response to suggestions we have been receiving from our members. We will try to make it as seamless as possible but be sure to check in regularly as each day may bring something new.


This week’s TARGET news is mostly about upcoming songs. Most of you know I am working on finishing up Imagine and then getting to some of the heavily requested songs- Hotel California and Old Man. I can’t make any promised yet but they will be in your hands (or on your screens) as soon as possible.
I am also working on a couple of instrumentals for the advanced section and I think Windy & Warm will see the light of day soon. Not really advanced until you can improvise your way through it, but a very cool instrumental that everyone should be familiar with.

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.

Check out the TARGET Program here

Latest Free Lessons/TARGET Previews

This week I got a little sidetracked with a very popular request, Sweet Baby James, by James Taylor, and decided to do something about it and make it available on the free side here at TotallyGuitars. The tab and lyrics are included and it is a great strumming song for intermediate guitar players. Check it out in the Free Lessons section when you can.


Recent Comments from Visitors

Southern Man

Great job Neil. Your videos are amazing. I stumbled upon this site over a month ago and I learned so much.



Never Going Back Again

Great song - but better yet the format (the entire song in one sitting) lent itself to a more complete lesson - I felt satisfied once the lesson was over (was it good for you too).



Hocus Pocus Studiocam with Doug

Kudos to Doug for allowing us to watch him work through this. This is a great song I forgot about. Would love to see a lesson and tab.


The TG Blog

The latest Blog posts have been about our TG Live for TARGET members but there were a few about changes happening. Here is one about some Forum additions.

Hi Gang,

I finally got around to a very small project that I meant to get done a couple of weeks ago. We now have boards on the TG Forum about music theory, songwriting, singing and performing. They are open to everybody so I hope you can check them out soon and find or spread some good information.

Don’t forget about tomorrow’s TG Live for TARGET members. We will be looking at Sweet Baby James and Imagine, as well as answering some questions. Info on how to access the show should be going out shortly, or as soon as we figure out how it’s going to work.

I hope to be introducing an additional format for TARGET lessons very soon. They will be TARGET Shorts. These will be 10-20 minute segments on songs that probably don’t need the full treatment. I will be able to put these together much quicker and cover many more songs in less time. With all the different song requests I’ve been getting I think this will be a good thing. I hope to get to Sweet Baby James in this manner in a day or 2. Let me know what you think about this idea. Till later…

Q&A for Neil

On Steve Howe

Hi Neil,

I just signed up for Target, and I'm so pleased I did. THANKS!

Do you ever plan on a lesson for Steve Howe's - Mood For A Day - it's a wonderful acoustic piece!

Watching him do it live, he seems to use a pick for the 4th, 5th and 6th strings, and fingers the 1st, 2nd and 3rd? Is this right?
I will definitely get to a couple of Steve's songs in the future- particularly Mood For A Day and Clap. He usually plays his "fingerstyle" pieces with a pick as you guessed. I prefer to teach those with the real fingerstyle technique of using just the fingers. This can make the flashy lead licks a little more difficult. That's one of the reasons these will be in the level 9 songs (advanced TARGET lessons).

On a side note (although it is not like me to digress very often...), I just had a very long drive to Las Vegas last week and spent most of it listening to some of his solo albums- Quantum Guitar, Spectrum and Natural Timbre. There were some great pieces on them and it is nice he decided to give up on singing, at least on albums, and go with his forte. I should be so considerate... but wait, I don't sing on my albums... only in lessons!


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 John Lennon’s tune Across The Universe. (TARGET MEMBERS ONLY LINK)


Across The Universe is a John Lennon tune that originally appeared on a benefit album for the World Wildlife Fund (the real WWF!) and later appeared on Let It Be. The most authentic version can be found on the reissue Let It Be… Naked.
It was written the way many Lennon songs were. He had a lyrical phrase running through his head, “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup”, reportedly as something his wife Cynthia said to him as they were having an argument. He got up in the middle of the night, wrote the line down with some additional lyrics, went back to bed, came back the next morning and started putting together music for it.
Across The Universe was recorded in February of 1968, before the Beatles made their trip to India, although lyrics and a mantra related to the Maharishi were included.
John and Paul had trouble during the session getting the harmony vocals in tune. John even felt that Paul was sabotaging the effort in the interest of getting his song at the time, Lady Madonna, a little more likely to be released as a single. Rather than going to the trouble to practice and work them out, Paul suggested going outside and getting a couple of teenage girls (the Apple Scruffs) who spent much of their time hanging around outside the Apple studios and having them sing along. This gave the background vocals a feel more like a school glee club or choir, as nobody was very well in tune.
Final work on the song was delayed until after their India trip in the summer of 1968, by which time their disillusionment with the Maharishi really made the spiritual lyrics to the song seem dated. It really was only resurrected for the Let It Be album because scenes of the band rehearsing it appeared in the film.


Various releases of the song appear to be in different keys but this was all done by speeding or slowing the tape. John fingered the chords in the key of D.
The song opens with a short melody, harmonized in 6ths, played on the 1st and 3rd strings, before settling into a little strumming over F#m and A. The verse has an interesting variation in a couple of spots where John puts an extra beat of A in a measure to let the words flow a little smoother. In the chart below these are marked with an asterisk.
The accompaniment is just a simple strumming pattern with the occasional addition of various notes on certain chords, mainly the A and A7. This song is playable by beginning guitarists as even John Lennon played many of the bar chords in simplified forms.

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 newsletter!
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