This week I have been busy shooting new videos for our TARGET
members. I was hoping to do about 10 or 12 to get a few months
ahead. Well, I managed about 4... more on those later.
Why do you need to get ahead of the curve, you might ask. Well,
next week, my other life as softball dad is taking us to the
beautiful mid-west- Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be precise. On one
hand I am looking forward to the trip but it is really not a
vacation per se, as we have to stick to someone else's schedule. On
the other hand, there should be plenty of down time that I can get
some guitar playing in, if I can even remember what that is.
Now the sketchy part, I'm sure many of you have seen a great video
at YouTube about how certain airlines have habit of mishandling
guitars. So I am taking my Ed Claxton guitar to South Dakota
tomorrow on... United Airlines. Any suggestions?
TARGET Live! update-
We just finished a fun episode of TARGET Live for our TARGET
members. I was joined in the control room by my son Coree and his
longtime friend Michael. We went over some of the recent lessons
and Michael did a great job helping with rhythm guitar, and even
some nice leads. The video should be ready this weekend.
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 I got a chance to work on a Beatles tune, Two Of Us. It
features quite a few time signature changes and really requires you
to count carefully. It is part of the TARGET Short series and comes
with the usual TAB and such. It also includes a feature that I hope
to do more of, a Sing-A-Long segment. When I say I hope to do more,
I really mean I hope to learn to sing someday. At least it should
help you get the idea of how the chords and words go together.
TARGE Members View Two Of Us here www.totallyguitars.com/target-songs/134/3339
I also finished a lesson on the Gregg Allman tune Melissa. This was
planned out as a TARGET Short but kind of took on a life of its
own. It turned into a great opportunity to talk about improvising a
lead in a given key (E major in this case). Check it out when you
can. TARGET Members View Melissa here www.totallyguitars.com/target-songs/134/3343
Next week- another classic Moody Blues tune and a little classical
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.
Excellent lesson Neil! I have been patiently waiting for this song,
thanks for adding it to the collection. I have a very limited vocal
range so I appreciate you being brave enough to sing along with the
song. It is challenging for me to sing and play at the same time,
so it was very helpful to hear how the vocals and guitar playing
blend together. It has inspired me to work on my singing and maybe
even be brave enough to sing in front of someone (maybe).
I like the TARGET Short format. I would like to see more of the
short lessons on great songs. While I also enjoy the full blown
versions, most of the time what peaks my interest are the short
lessons because they fit into my time schedule, my skill level, and
Thanks again for the lesson and please keep adding more songs like
this, short is great for me.
Two Of Us - TARGET Short
Wow, what a great lesson! I loved that you were willing to do a
sing-along for us; it really helps to hear the song put to words. I
just became a Target member yesterday and have already learned so
Dust In The Wind
Thanks, Neil. I've been working on this song by myself and was
having a hard time making progress on it. This video helped a lot.
I really appreciated the tip on letting those last notes ring out
as open strings in certain transitions.
The Major Modes- Ionian & Mixolydian
Always wanted to know what the mixolydian mode was. Now I think I
know, plus I know a little more now about scales, intervals, etc...
The TG Blog
We just finished this week's episode of TARGET Live for TARGET
members and a lot of fun was had by all (at least all those here at
TG Central). My son Coree and longtime friend Michael were at the
controls and Michael helped out on guitar. The video should be up
and ready Saturday afternoon in the TARGET section.
I also just finished a new lesson on Gregg Allman's tune Melissa.
This is a relatively easy strumming song with some interesting
chords. There are also segments talking about improvising a lead as
well as a Sing-A-Long. Check it out when you can.
As for the near future, I am on my way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota
for... guess what?... right, softball. I hope to keep shooting videos
there but we'll see what happens. In any case, I have a couple of
cool things heading your way next week anyway.
We had a lot of fun last night here at TG Central. My friend, Bruce
joined Matt and me in our high tech studio that my wife still
thinks is a living room. We talked about some upcoming lessons for
the TARGET Program and had a couple of play along segments on Brown
Eyed Girl. The 3-part video is now up in the TARGET section for
those who couldn't join us live.
After the broadcast Matt picked up a guitar and started a little
jam session that mostly revolved around Southern Man. As he got
comfortable with the chords, Bruce took the lead, improvising in
the key of D minor. It reminded me of my musical childhood when, as
a teenager, I would experiment in the same way with my buddy Mike
Mullins. It turned into a long night and slightly delayed this
week's newsletter, which I think Big Jim has just gotten out. It
also made Matt suggest that I put up a lesson on Southern Man where
I play the rhythm and our viewers could solo along. It was a little
awkward pointing out that we already had that.
After the jam session, Matt and I picked up again on a topic that
came up during the broadcast and has made its rounds on the Forum
lately- is TARGET permanently entrenched in the 60s and 70s? As
Matt dragged me through video after video of contemporary bands
looking for potential lessons, I realized that I need to define the
types of songs I am looking for, or like to use as instructional
Many songs, not just contemporary ones but classic as well, do not
have much to offer in the way of techniques that will carry over
into multiple applications. One of my main criteria for a good
lesson is a song that teaches new techniques or concepts. There are
thousands of songs that are simple rearrangements of chord
progressions or strumming patterns that I expect my students to
know because we had already worked on a song that taught that
particular technique or concept.
As Matt popped from favorite to favorite, my responses of, "too
basic, we've already done something just like that", seemed to be
get uncomfortably redundant. After about 10 songs, I didn't even
have to say anything. Matt would listen to 15 seconds and say, "too
Now in the big scheme of things, there is nothing that is too
basic, but when I am looking for new songs to add to the 45,213 or
so that I have taught over the years, I am looking for something
that is challenging and introduces something new that is important
to a guitar students' evolution. Here is where you come in- help me
find those songs. I need suggestions from the last 5 (OK, maybe 10)
years that either have melodies picked out like in My My Hey Hey
(or almost any Neil Young song for that matter), interesting and
unusual chord progressions (a la the Beatles or Al Stewart), some
intricate picking or cross picking like in I'd Love To Change The
World or Behind Blue Eyes (which I will probably get to soon), or
something as complex and cool as From The Beginning (probably not
going to happen). All this, without even talking about
fingerpicking or instrumental solos.
Does anybody see the dilemma? I don't think it's that I don't want
to teach modern songs, it's just that I am not familiar enough with
them to find good instructional opportunities in them. Part of this
is that nowadays there are about a million times more bands and
even genres than there were when I was growing up. On one hand I
hate to sound like an old fogey, as almost everybody has a special
fondness in their heart (ears?) for music they listened to during
their "formative" years (read that as "what I listened to in high
I do want you to know that just about every suggestion that has
crossed my path, in the Forum and elsewhere, has led me to check
out the song and consider adding it to the list of potential
lessons. I also want to tell you that last night we stumbled onto
something that almost piqued an interest, Lifehouse, I think it
was, can't remember the song.
So here is my outcry- help me find that elusive modern song that
will take a beginning guitar student and turn them into an
intermediate player, or an intermediate student into an advanced
player, or an advanced student into an extreme player... wait, never
mind, there is no room left in the world for any more extreme
This is the official opening of a thread looking for modern songs,
let's try not to have anybody hurt...
The search is well underway. Check the Forum for the latest