Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Ultimate Guitar Lesson (part 1)

This blog entry was originally posted on my page. I’m re-producing it again here because this blog was set up to be more focussed on the topic of the guitar. Since I’ve written a post which follows on directly from this one, I felt that it would make sense to re-produce it here so that the second part follows on logically:

Because I undertake quite a lot of teaching work, I read a lot of the guitar magazines. This is in order to keep in touch with recent developments in terms of new bands, new music, and new players, as well as keeping up to date with new innovations and equipment. All of these magazines contain some form of technique section where transcriptions of songs are published, chords, scales, modes and their use is explained and demonstrated, or a particular guitarist’s playing style may be examined and explored.

Not too long ago I encountered the cover of a guitar magazine which advertised “The Ultimate Guitar Lesson”.

I usually buy this particular magazine, but this time I struggled to get beyond my immediate reaction to the fact that this magazine had actually gone so far as to have the arrogance and temerity to advertise “The Ultimate Guitar Lesson” across the front cover! I bought, and carefully read the magazine so that I may comment fairly on this matter, but what I found was that what was contained within the magazine fell a long way short of the claim which was made on the front cover. I question my own judgement all the time, and reassess my thoughts and opinions regularly, so naturally I questioned my reaction and wondered whether or not I was being excessively judgemental, but in this case I sincerely don’t think I overreacted. This is because to be offered “The Ultimate Guitar Lesson” demonstrates a deep and manipulative use of the position a magazine is assumed to have as far as the casual magazine buying guitar player is concerned. Guitar magazines actually set themselves up as their own, unregulated authority on the subject of guitar playing which in itself is fair enough so long as the contents of the magazine are quantified as opinion where necessary and appropriate, and what is offered is accurate, balanced and fair. In this case, a blatant lie was spread across the front cover in order to sell it!

If there were such a thing as an ultimate guitar lesson, it would successfully render every other guitar lesson obsolete. Within a guitar magazine, what the “ultimate guitar lesson” would offer you, if it were true, is a one-step solution to every technical and musical difficulty you may ever have in every style, on every kind of guitar! You would never need to take another lesson, or buy another magazine again. Every technique article in every previous edition of the magazine would be rendered obsolete. Every technique article ever to be published in the future would be rendered obsolete.

What’s the bottom line on all this?

Where guitar magazines are concerned, question what you are being told. What you are being told, is what you are being sold. Buy a magazine with your common sense and judgement and don’t always believe what is spread across the front cover. The cover of a magazine is always a well-constructed sales pitch for the magazines contents (which is fair enough if the contents can live up to the hype), never where the contents cannot back up what the sales pitch claims.

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