Lessons With Bill
I consider myself fortunate to have been given a guitar at 11.
Lucky even. The guitar is affordable, it’s portable, it can be electric, acoustic, or both. Any music sounds good on a guitar.
Tune it however you want. Use a pick or don’t. 3 chords will get you millions of songs. You can design them to look like anything. You can take it to a friend’s house on a bike. With a guitar you can start a band. They look beautiful — all of them. You can make them from virtually anything; a board, 2 nails, a piece of wire, and a Coke bottle will do.
A guitar is familiar; it’s easy to hold.
A guitar will help you write a song.
A guitar will be your friend.
“ It’s only got three chords, just play it, stop thinking about it.” — Mick Jagger
Prospective students always ask (and rightly so), “what style of guitar music do you teach?” I tell them I have a slightly different approach to style, or genre, than most teachers and even many guitar players. It follows this quite simple logic and example.
When you go to buy a guitar, you buy a guitar. You don’t buy a rock guitar, a blues guitar, a lead, rhythm, country, jazz, classical, metal, folk, punk, funk, bluegrass, slide, or a fingerpicking guitar — you buy a guitar. That is part of the beauty of the guitar.
Take the Beatles for instance. An average (which is to say brilliant) Beatles song can contain elements from Motown (9th chords), Country (a I-V bass line), Jazz (swing-era rhythms), Blues (George’s solo), Classical (vocal arrangements and strings), and in their later years, even Indian and experimental electronic music. Their music does not fit in any one style or genre.
It is just music you play on your guitar.
I of course have my preferences, as will you, and your tastes will probably evolve and change through your years of playing —that’s good!
As Duke Ellington famously said,
“There’s 2 kinds of music. Good music, and bad music.
I play the good kind.”
One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.
– Lou Reed
Teaching the guitar is not so much about showing you how to do it. It is more about giving you the tools and showing you how to use them so that you might construct your own world of guitars and music from materials that you find interesting.
Guitar playing and guitar players are going to keep on making music whether or not you decide to take part in the global party. And that’s what it is. A party. A gala, a fete, a jubilee!