Totally Guitars Newsletter #13 10 Years, 11 Months ago
TG Newsletter #13 - August 15th, 2009
In this issue you'll find...
- What's going on at Totally Guitars?
- Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...
- Tech Corner
- Ask Neil
- Recent Comments
- The TG Blog
What's Going On?
The mice have really been scrambling this week. We are burning a
lot of midnight oil, all over the world, and managed to get a
massive amount of data moved to a server that can handle the
traffic and transfers that run through TotallyGuitars. This really
needs to be seamless and even transparent to our viewers but you
would be amazed at the technology that we are using to keep
everything running smoothly. There were a few bumps in the road
along the way, especially early in the week, but all should be back
to normal now. If not please click the support button at the top of
the site on any page.
I have spent most of the week working on lots of new lessons,
including the usual fare of classic rock stuff, as well as some new
fingerpicking and blues tunes. We are also working on other ways
and formats to bring you some great material, more on these over
the next few weeks.
I have one more week of travel coming up and may not be as in touch
as usual, depending on the quality of internet connections in the
rainforests of the Big Island of Hawaii. If all goes well I might
be able to shoot some slack key lessons on location, and even
connect with Keola Beamer and talk about some guest lessons. I will
keep you posted, assuming I can find a Starbucks there...
TARGET Live! update-
We will be breaking the pattern of 1 episode every two weeks a
little bit this month, due to my trip to the jungles of Hawaii, so
the next episode is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, August 29
at noon in California. I think this will be a good time for most of
our members, who are scattered around the world.
I really liked the format of the last one and we will continue in a
similar manner, mostly opening the show up to questions from
everybody. I like the idea of addressing some theory issues, as has
been brought up recently on the Forum. We will definitely head in
Besides our move to the new server you may have noticed our new
Master Menu button on the site. This text menu has all of Totally
Guitars Lessons and areas broken up into expandable sections. Each
section expands into an easy to read text listing of all lesson
contents in a section. Look for improvements to this feature in the
future now that the base version is rolled out.
New video players which are much more Internet Explorer friendly
are popping up across the site. First we updated the free video
players and now we are rolling out a new player across TARGET.
The change of player in TARGET is significant because you will no
longer need to switch different pages for different lesson parts.
There will now be one player with a play list for the one lesson.
We are working fast to re-code all the TARGET lessons so keep your
eye out for those new players!
Last thing to mention is we are in final testing phases for the new
high quality video versions in TARGET. So keep your eye out for an
update on that in the next week.
Just a reminder if you need technical support on TG use the support
button at the top of every page of the site.
Once we got our server issues back in order, I was able to bring
you a lesson on one of the most requested songs on my list, Windy &
Warm. Now, one of the reasons it was so heavily requested was
probably that I have had half of it available for a very long time.
In any case, the complete lesson is finished and available to our
TARGET members now.
This was a song that first came to my attention about 30 years ago
when a student brought in a recording by Doc Watson, who played it
as a duet with his son Merle, as I recall. It has since become a
piece I teach just about all of my finger picking students. One of
the things I like about it is that there is a lot of room for
improvisation in it. I mention this briefly in the lesson and I
will follow up on this in a future look at making songs your own,
rather than just rehashing someone else's version.
I am always looking for ways to help students make their playing
more creative, and tunes like Windy & Warm present great
opportunities for this.
Coming next week- I hope to have finished another very extensive
lesson on the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah. This is a tune that
has been covered, recovered, and possibly over covered by a whole
bunch of people, so I figured I might as well jump on the
bandwagon. The lesson includes a standard arrangement, it looks at
a couple of specific arrangements in varying keys, and even has a
section where I developed the chord-solo type of play through. I
think you'll like it.
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 are some of the comments that came in about Windy & Warm
Thank you, thank you, thank you Neil!!!! That one was worth waiting
Great job Neil. I think this may be THE best lesson in all of
the TARGET program, or at least dead even with "Classical Gas".
Thanks again for all of your hard work.
Great lesson Neil, I am looking forward to start working on it (out
of town this week). I went through most of the videos and it is
well explain as usual. I like the rhythmic of the song with the
ongoing melody. It seems to be in a similar class as Anji that you
said would be in the program eventually.
Great work, more challenges for us (especially if we have to play
it differently every time as you suggested).
Yet another great lesson. Boy you do believe in keeping us busy.
Speaking of our esteemed member in Kiwiland, here is a post he
brought us about the ages of some of our members...
Older Than Dirt Quiz
Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told
2.Coffee shops with tableside juke boxes
3.Home milk delivery in glass bottles
4. Party lines on the telephone
5.Newsreels before the movie
6.TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and
were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (there were
only 3 channels [if you were fortunate])
8. Howdy Doody
9. 45 RPM records
11. Metal ice trays with lever
12. Blue flashbulb
15. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-3 = You're still young
If you remembered 3-6 = You are getting older
If you remembered 7-10 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 11-15 =You're older than dirt!
Try to take a look at the original post, as there are a lot of
great comments and memories there!
Some recent Q&A-
A Question About The Ask Neil Forum
I notice that a lot of questions asked of you do not get answered
by you. Is there certain types of questions you look for to answer
or is is possibly just a matter of to many questions, so little
I am new, so I am just trying to understand the protocol and the
Some Helpful Answers
If I may, I think Neil looks at all the threads and posts. However
there are many contributors that have a lot of knowledge and
experience. They, most of the time reply, just to be helpful and
because they like the instrument. Should the answer be not totally
right, and not corrected by somebody else, Neil will jump in, I am
sure. So for me, if I ask a question, get an answer and no
correction, it is as good as if Neil would have provide it.
Actually sometimes more than one person will reply and will beef up
the answer or suggestion.
This is a good point, I am sometimes 'guilty' of answering but
sometimes I wait to see if Neil gets in first. Maybe we needs some
rules around this category, I think Neil might have difficulty in
answering them all though. Neil what are your thoughts?
Thanks, I appreciate reading all of the replies... It's just I
thought one of the benefits of being a Target member was that you
could have an interaction with Neil. Thought that is what set it
apart from the free forum.
I think everybody would like to speak or mail with THE MAN
directly. But I have been on other guitar site, that I was paying
for, expecting some answers. Unfortunately there were too many
questions and little answers. Eventually I got tired of waiting.
Neil (or other members of Totally guitars: Jim and Matt) answers
quite often in the forum but he also answers on the TG live
session. The name of the person might not be mentioned, but if it
is of general interest, it will be answered. You can ask questions
directly during the TG live sessions. This why I like this group
because you get some kind of feedback, so you are not in the left
field for too long. At least you can move on with all the answers
you are getting. My perception of Target is that it offers a unique
approach to lesson with a good forum interaction and completed by
TG live where you can see or hear all the people of Totally
guitars. They are not just there to cash in (even if the site is
their business )but you can feel the enthusiasm.
...as if on call, Matt finally jumps in...
Just to let you know that Neil will be in that section next week
answering some stuff, he is still traveling (last 3 weeks for him
have been just huge), his biggest focus and the one I have been
supporting him on is getting the new content and songs created, and
running the live shows..
This means that we look at the forums all the time and try and wrap
most of it up in the live shows that we run twice a month, at
present to keep up with peoples stuff, and we often find that
questions are usually common amongst more than one of you... so that
the main outlet at present.
The ask Neil section will be patrolled by Neil next week on, I have
already discussed it with him, but as I mentioned he has his head
down on family duties and creating new material for you all....
Please pop onto one of the live shows for a more immediate
response... I will read the questions out live for you to Neil..
Hope that helps
...and then I had to get involved...
I almost hate to jump in here but I guess I should add my 15 cents
(to borrow a phrase from one of our esteemed members).
I check this board many times every day to see what is happening
and I am thrilled with the answers that our group comes up with.
You are absolutely right that if I feel I need to correct anything,
I will jump right in. Along those lines then, you can assume that
if I don't, I agree with whatever is being said.
A good example here was the thread about a guitar for a 10 year
old. I appreciated the answers from parents in similar situations
who pretty much came up with my answer- start on a 3/4 size steel
string guitar with very low action and extra light gauge strings.
Nylon strings can be a reasonable alternative, especially for a
Another good example was Andy's answer to the Brain Damage
question- exactly what I would have said.
I also have tried to get in the habit of adding the green arrow
icon to the original post if I get to it personally, although I'm
not sure I should change the smiley that this one already has.
I have to say I am surprised and incredibly pleased at the
community that has grown around TotallyGuitars. You guys are the
...and a quick follow up from Andy...
Thanks Neil, I know that many of us try to help out when and where
we can. It's always nice to know we are on the correct track.
Comments Recently Received
Friend Of The Devil
This is a gem of a song which brings back lots of nostalgia and you
play it "cleanly", bluegrass style. I hope more of your students
let it into their heads. It has a beautiful, loping bass line. I
will be signing up soon and this will be one of my first tunes to
learn a bit better, along with Ventura Highway.
...Steeling a Beach Boys' line to say thanks for this great
break-down of a riff (one of the very best there is) that I spent
my whole life not being able to even hear right let alone play it!
Really enjoying this....
Very nice! Richard has spoken from my heart for me. Finishing off
Story in your Eyes is high on my list (now that I have the cool
intro down) and Question just has to follow, Neil. PLEASE, PLEASE
ME! That's one I already play on a 12 string in open C tuning
(CGCGCE)..... it would be a blast to see your master tips on that.
Music- You Make Happiness With It (A Visit To 1st Grade)
Really cute! Listen people, this is what makes Neil a great
teacher. He can reach out and connect with whoever is there, pick
them up and carry them to a new level of understanding and ability
with a deceptive easiness and obvious joy. This is a true gift,
cultivated through years of sensitive coaching. Watching this video
(I missed a hairdresser's appointment in the process, duh!) I was
reminded of someone who has the same "feel". Robert Fulghum, who
wrote All I REALLY NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. He
talks about taking music back from the paid performers (those who
"can") to those who have started to believe they "can't" as that's
where it belongs, with you and me. When he asked kids in
kindergarten if they could sing (paint, draw or act) they all said
"yes we can. Let's do it now!" The same questions at a University
produced only one or two hands in the air each time. Apparently
between kindergarten and "growing up" we loose it all and become
people who mostly "can't". Neil is someone who is helping us all
put the "can" back where it belongs. With us, with music. Music:
you make happiness with it! Wonderful; that could have come from
one of Robert Fulghum's books. If Neil and Robert haven't met, they
should, Robert's a guitar player too.
The TG Blog
August 12th, 2009 by TGJIM
Well welcome to our new home. Smell that paint? The migration is
complete and if you are reading this message then you made it over
to the new server with us.
The site works fine you can upload pictures and videos again as
well as just relax and watch some fine acoustic guitar lessons. If
you notice anything out of the ordinary please don't hesitate to
enter a support ticket as we will not get to test every single
video before you get to them.
We appreciate your patience during the recent changes and TG is
well positioned to grow now to the next list of features and
phases. Thanks for making TG a great acoustic guitar community!
To get to the blog click here
That's it for this week, maybe next week we will be looking at Over
The Rainbow on ukulele, as played by Izzy... now if I could just get
his pipes and learn to sing!
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