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What's Going On?
It may seem like it has been a little quiet around here as I have
been away in South Dakota hanging out on the softball fields in
beautiful Sioux Falls. I might add that the falls are really cool
and the team had a great time running around on the rocks and in
the mist of the old quartzite quarry that has become Sioux Falls,
after they were eliminated Friday morning.
There was an interesting thread along the "quiet" lines but the
consensus was that folks were busy working on some of the new
songs; Melissa, Hotel California, and Romanza. I'm really happy to
hear about how much fun and progress everybody seems to be making
in their guitar playing.
We are all working very hard on a lot of new features and I think
some anonymous member of the TG Team, who has been reprimanded and
maybe even replaced by now, started spilling the beans in the
Forum- a thread about "cool album covers", for those of us who
still listen records on the old Victrola.
Having been a little out of touch I may be mistaken, but I think
our next TG Live for TARGET members is scheduled for Friday, August
7 at 6:00 PM in California. We are working a plan for another
episode available to everyone in the very near future as well.
Hopefully one of our team who might be editing this will clear this
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.
The big news this week was finally the completion of a lesson that
many people had been asking about- Romanza. This is a classical
guitar standard that I really like my students to learn, regardless
of their level. The first section is great for beginners and
teaches a common arpeggio pattern, and also uses a barre chord with
some stretching and squeezing of the left hand fingers. The second
section is a little more challenging with a few more unusual chord
The intermediate player can focus on learning to place the left
hand fingers in an efficient manner, not putting them all down at
once like you might when you are strumming a song.
There is also a segment for the advanced players that talks about
adding expression to the song; learning to play more than just the
notes and turning the notes into music.
There really is something for everyone in Romanza and I hope you
have fun working on it, whatever your level. Next week will have a
few surprises, including a modern song by a female artist.
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.
Here is a recent Forum post that I would like to share with
everybody and that I really appreciate the thoughts and feedback
that everyone is bringing to TG.
My Take: Neil and TG
OK, I have seen the growth of Totallyguitars.com from its
inception. I have read the questions and concerns of many members
past and present. I am also in the unique position of having
actually taken lessons from Neil in person for over a year. Here's
my take (for what it's worth):
First off, Neil is a great guitar teacher. He is patient,
knowledgeable, and talented. The start of TG was sort of confusing.
What was Neil's plan? I admit I didn't know at first--was he
offering free lessons, TABS, etc.? When it became clear that he was
going to charge for access to full lessons it turned many people
off. My feeling is that is was more a case of feeling mislead from
the youtube videos than the idea of paying for online lessons.
Now that it is clear what TG actually is I read many people's
concerns over what they are learning (theory, techniques, practice,
etc.) Many are confused and even frustrated over issues surrounding
theory and technique.
Now, my two cents (which is probably what it's worth): Neil teaches
guitar for a living. Consequently, he has to be a master of music
in general and guitar specifically. In my opinion he is classically
trained. He has a mathematical precision in his approach to
teaching and playing.
With that said, not everyone's approach will be exactly like
Neil's. I can speak from personal experience that his style of
playing did not always entirely mesh with how I wanted to play the
guitar. He was exact and clean--I wanted to play Rock, and Chicago
and Delta Blues where cleanliness and exactness isn't always
necessary (or even desirable!) I was even turned off by some of the
pieces he presented to me. I didn't start out wanting to play
Ragtime or Classical music, but I took what he showed me and
learned it the best I could.
Years later as I evolved and grew as a guitarist I appreciated what
he taught me. I took what I needed from him and pursued my own
musical interests. In so doing, I realized he gave me a foundation
with which to expand my musical horizons that I wasn't going to get
from bashing it out myself.
Now I am able to play just about any song or piece I desire if
given the proper information. And while I'll likely never make a
living playing guitar, I do perform solo and earn enough to keep me
in strings at least!
So, in summary, there will always be growing pains and doubt when
learning a new skill (or improving an old one). Just remember that
Neil is guiding your journey. You don't have to play exactly like
Neil (or anybody else for that matter) to make guitar playing and
music your own. Imagine how boring it would be if everybody played
guitar the same. Learn the tools that will take you where you want
to go. Even if you are not aware of it, you will put your own
unique stamp on your music. Take as much of it in as you can. As
you grow you will keep what you need and make it a part of your
Thanks for indulging me.
Beginner Trying To Switch To Intermediate
I'm a new subscriber to your target program and so far I do fully
enjoy it. I did take few guitar lessons previously with a private
teacher but with your target program I do appreciate the
possibility of rewinding and playing along. I was first teased up
by your video's broadcast on youtube and I did enjoy in particular
(Heart of gold and Old man by Neil Young) and (Give a little bit by
Charles Hodgson). The only problem is that I can't find those on
totallyguitar.com either with your regular video's or your target
program. I don't know if you are planning to include them on the
target program but if it is possible for you I would like to be
able to get them with your video's series. I do mention it to you
because in your latest newsletter your were telling us that your
were planning to do some site reshapping. There's no hurry because
I do have plenty to put under my finger's with the actual version
of your site. I hope you did enjoy your softball tournament of
course without any sport injuries.
Your's (for the year's to come)
Michel from Québec
I hope everybody knows that all the songs that are promised will
eventually find their way into the program. The timetable is and
will remain flexible for a long time and there will always be
plenty to work on.
I have been playing acoustic guitar since 1972, so yes we are
contemporaries. I'm actually a very good guitarist (and drummer)
but have never found the time to build a repertoire (especially
60s, 70s and 80s music) so I can pick up the guitar and play
comfortably in front of people. Then I found your website and
signed up for TARGET. Boy, what a great investment!! I love your
simple and thorough teaching style and choice of songs. I look
forward to playing everyday now and learning new stuff!!
Wish You Were Here
Great lesson Neil, I couldn't do this song a while back and now
that I can play with the rhythm it is so much easier.
I know we are starting to inundate you with new material so I
almost hesitate to put this out now, but I have had many requests
over a very long time to finish a lesson on the classical guitar
standard Romanza. This is a piece that I like all my students to
learn at one time or another. It has a simple arpeggio going on in
the right hand but some complicated concepts and techniques for the
There are many arrangements out there and this one is basically the
one I grew up with in the book World's Favorite Series (#43, I
think), where it is called Spanish Ballad. It is now up for our
TARGET members in the Guitar Instrumentals section, along with
Classical Gas and Embryonic Journey.
July 28nd, 2009 by Matt
As you may have noticed we have experienced some growing pains
lately. The good part of this is we are a successful growing and
thriving community sharing our passion for acoustic guitar and
learning together. The downside of this is Totally Guitars needs a
bigger box to hold everything it offers.
In response to the recent downtime on the site we feel the best
course of action is to move our site to an enterprise level hosting
company that is used to serving the biggest and best companies in
the world. We are going to start the migration process as soon as
We apologize for the issues you have encountered in the start up of
this unique acoustic guitar teaching site. For your patience and
understanding we would like to offer our current TARGET members a 1
week extension on all subscriptions giving everyone a free week.
There could be scheduled downtime later this week and we will let
you know. We will notify you once the migration is complete. The
moving of Totally Guitars should provide our customers with the
kind of site availability they expect.
Q&A for Neil
Traveling With Your Guitar
This week I took a chance on flying across the country (well,
halfway across the country) with my guitar. Not that it matters but
is a little on the expensive side and very important to me. I
started a thread in the Forum about the experience and here is the
first part of the journey, with the second half about to unfold
After seeing the video about United Airlines and having traveled
with a guitar a few times, I thought I would keep a little journal
about taking my guitar on a trip this week. I am off to Sioux
Falls, South Dakota, with my daughter who is playing in a softball
tournament. I don't often take a guitar to these tournaments but
this one will last all week and I figured I might get some time to
play, and even PRACTICE a little.
I should mention that we are taking United Airlines. I figure they
might be on their best behavior due to recent events and publicity.
We arrived at the San Jose airport around 6:00 AM and headed to the
counter to check our bags. I was hoping to carry it on board but
the Claxton is in a Calton case and a Colorado Case Company padded
bag, making it probably too big for the overhead bin. I went ahead
and paid the fees for bags, including some surcharge for special
handling and asked the agent about insurance, or the best plan for
carrying a pretty expensive instrument.
She told me that I should carry it to the gate and see what the
agents there say, but that they might make me check it. I didn't
really have a problem checking the guitar but the main thing to
avoid is putting it on a conveyor belt and letting it disappear
into the dark abyss behind sinister rubber flaps.
Not surprisingly, I was told that I would need to check the guitar
at the gate. They printed up a tag and told me to carry it to the
end of the ramp and put it on a cart that already had a guitar and
a few other oversized bags. I did ask the handler at the cart to
please hand check the bag and he said to me, "Oh, we hand check
everything anyway." This didn't leave me with a strong feeling of
confidence as I walked away from the cart and headed up the ramp.
I was also a little concerned about the fact that now the guitar
would have to make the same connection we were, transferring in
Denver, knowing that this was possibly a cause for concern as well.
On a side note, I have taken guitars on board in a gig bag before
as well as checking them and frankly, there is a certain sense of
probably false security with the "out of site, out of mind"
As I write this, we have made it in Denver and I find myself a
little concerned, but probably only because we have a couple hours
layover and not much else to do. I just hope the guitar is being
gently carried from baggage hold to baggage hold.
Anybody seen the flying pig lately?
I'll try to get back to you in a few hours after we get settled in
I have to admit I was a little nervous as I waited for the luggage
in Sioux Falls. There was a bin that seemed to be used for
oversized and unusual items. I hoped my guitar would be hand
delivered there, especially when I saw a nice Fender electric case
in the bin. As I kind of kept an eye on both the belt and the bin
(partly wondering where the heck the Fender owner was!), I was
surprised to look back at our pile of bags and see my guitar.
Apparently it had come out on the belt and Lizzie had grabbed it.
I took it over to another carousel and, with a bit of trepidation,
unzipped the cover and opened the latches to find everything
apparently in good order. I did have a bit of a doubting Thomas
moment and grabbed the headstock to make sure it was still intact
and all was well.
I am now half way through the adventure, at least as far as the
airlines are concerned, and am breathing a sigh of relief. Now I
just hope I can find, or make the time to play the darned thing,
maybe even get to some video lessons on the road. I will keep you
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
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