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Back in December, I wrote about my attempt at diversifying my hobbies.  In October 2008 I started taking guitar lessons because I had a Fender ‘laying around’ that was getting unused.  Since then I’ve really enjoyed it and picked up an acoustic (which I actually enjoy playing more).  I’ve also picked up some computer equipment (M-Audio Black Box) so that I can mess around with software like GarageBand and actually record some of my practices.

I’ve moved quite a long way from my happy birthday recording in that blog post :-) but I’ve still got a long way to go.  Traveling certainly puts a dent in practicing for something like a musical instrument – especially when you don’t travel with it.  I’ve pretty much been gone from mid-April until mid-May which means I haven’t practiced much at all.  I’ve thought about getting something like the Martin Backpacker guitar, but just haven’t picked one up yet.

I have found some great online resources that have made learning the guitar a lot more fun for me as a geek.  Turns out there is a bunch of great info out there for self learning.  Of course, I don’t think anything can fully match 1-on-1 instruction from someone in person, but for in-between lessons, here’s some things I’ve found fun and useful.

  • iLife 09 music lessons – I had big hope for these and it is turning out that they just aren’t that exciting once compared to other free (and more frequently updated) offerings are out there.  I still have the basics (the celebrity lessons are lame in my opinion) which do a decent job covering things like the 12-bar blues, etc.  The production quality, as expected from Apple, is of the highest quality…just wish the content was updated and more appealing.
  • JustinGuitar.com – A UK guy who uses YouTube to deliver free lessons on basics as well as some fun/modern guitar riffs.  He’s got a great personality and goes at a pace a beginner like myself can understand.
  • Ultimate-Guitar.com – one of my favorites.  Once you learn how to read guitar TAB notation, this site is fun to check out.  It is user-contributed content, so reader beware, but most of what I’ve found is pretty good.  When I hear a song I might want to check out, I search this site and learn.  I learned how to play a Bob Marley tune completely in a few hours by just what I found here.
  • James from Handsome Alvin – James uses YouTube puts up some great  videos walking through popular songs with strumming patterns and at a pace perfect for me as a beginner.  I’m frequently more of his videos a lot because I like how he puts up the strumming patterns and chord progressions.
  • Marty Schwartz from GuitarJamz.com – A new resource I just found that, like others, uses YouTube to deliver.  Marty has a great personality about him and slows things down for beginners.  And he takes requests via Twitter.

My private instructor is great as well and like I said, nothing can replace that.  Having these things in-between lessons at my own pace moves me beyond lesson exercises to learning things that catch my ear and have fun doing it.  I’m still having a blast, even though it is immensely challenging for me technically – as well as finding the time to practice!

Happy hobbying!

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