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Review: Learn and Master Guitar

A few months ago, the folks at Learn and Master Guitar contacted me asking if I’d be willing to review their video lesson program. Because I’ve never checked out any DVD lesson courses, I was interested. I’m not being compensated for this post, nor is the link to the L & M Guitar website an affiliate link. I do get to keep the course, though.

Many adult guitarists feel awkard in lessons–they might have been playing a while or they might be new to the game. Some people just are not comfortable with one on one lessons in general. Learn and Master Guitar is meant for those people who’d rather do a stay at home course.

Like many beginning guitar methods, Learn and Master Guitar does not get too in depth in any one style. It’s more about giving a general overview of basic guitar/music concepts. To that end, the lessons focus on something I focus on with my non-classical guitar students: exposing students to the various forms of notation they’ll be expect to read. L & M Guitar goes through standard notation, chord charts and TAB. The approach it follows is similar to many method books (string at a time) and combines notation/TAB reading with basic chords. But that’s not the whole course, it also a ton on movable chord shapes, power chords, scales and an introduction to many different musical genres.

What I Like

The biggest thing I’ve noticed as a teacher is that different students require different degrees of reinforcement. That is, some students really need to go through every exercise in a method. Others don’t. I feel its important for a certain quantity of exercises and studies to be available for a student, and Learn and Master Guitar has a ton of material.

There’s a main DVD lesson segment that explains all the concepts and goes through the exercises for each section of the book. But then the DVD includes “workshops” which are lessons on the additional material found after the “basics” for each chapter of the book. I think that’s great. It lets the student test his/her knowledge first before getting told exactly how to do something.

There’s a ton of introductions to various styles. I like this, but where’s the classical guitar section?!

As I’m a very goal oriented person, I also like that the book and DVD includes assignments/goals at the end of each lesson.

Criticism

This is largely nick-picking, so I hope the folks at L & M Guitar can forgive me. Teaching beginners without using the fourth finger approach is not a good idea. Simply altering the fingering (even of simple, single-line melodies) can have a very positive effect on hand position and technique. L & M Guitar does not use the fourth finger approach, but that’s easily overcome by just switching the fingering a bit. Just to be clear, though, very few methods/courses use the fourth finger approach.

For the section on fingerstyle guitar, I wish they would have used p i m a for the RH fingers instead of T 1 2 3. T 1 2 3 might be a bit to confusable with left hand fingers, and if the student decided to pursue classical studies after they complete L & M they’ll be in better shape having learned p i m a.

The obvious downside to studying from a DVD is that there’s no teacher there to troubleshoot for you. There’s no one to give suggestions or practice techniques or offer encouragement. That makes this course, in my mind, more ideal for very motivated adults–they aren’t going to have as much trouble with the basics as a younger student.

The Verdict

Learn and Master Guitar teaches like I teach my non-classical guitar students. I have a hard time finding faults, other than the tiny things I covered above. It’s a good course, and well worth a look for a serious, adult beginner. Intermediate players can also benefit from the training in various music and notation reading.

Will a video course every be able to take the place of a guitar lesson? Learn and Master Guitar gets pretty close.

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