8 April 2009

Do Guitar Books Have A Future?

Computers and the internet are changing reading and learning habits and guitar playing is one skill that benefits hugely from these new formats. Multi-media guitar lessons using sound, video or computer software have many advantages compared to printed notation in books or magazines.

More and more guitar tuition products use multi-media or are entirely based on video, audio or software media. Does this spell the end of guitar books and magazines?

Photo OctopusHat.

Video and software have numerous strong points. With a video, for example, you can see and copy the instructor without the need to learn complex music notation. This removes a big hurdle for many beginners and makes it easier for them to get started.

Of course, a real live music teacher can also show you how to play like this. But have you ever tried to find a teacher who'll come to your house at 10 o'clock at night, when you're ready to practice? Multimedia training can be viewed whenever you like, and as many times as you like, all without having to leave your home. This is another big plus for many learners.

Now some might argue that these advantages lead to laziness and create students lacking in fundamentals. This might be true in part, but I think that the advantages far outweigh the problems.

Serious students will eventually get around to learning to think for themselves, to read music, and any other skills they'll need. The rest who just want to have a little fun without too much personal investment have more possibilities to learn easily.

But books might not be quite finished yet, I think they have some advantages of their own.

For one thing, they are very portable. You don't need to be tied in front of a computer or TV as you practice – a factor not to neglect for the many of us who prefer to play guitar rather than be a TV addict. Books make it easy to practice and learn wherever you go with your lesson book tucked into your guitar bag or case.

The physical layout of books is also a great help. They are organized into chapters and sections that are physically related to one another. This in turn creates a similar organization of the knowledge in your mind.

For example, I have a couple of blues books and their organization into chapters on blues rhythm playing and chords, different soloing techniques, turnarounds and endings, and so on, provides an instant framework into which I fit my blues knowledge.

This physical layout helps us to construct a mental map of the material. This map is often harder to build with video material whose structure may be less obvious.

Working with books also means you are more or less obliged to learn to read music and tab. While it's perfectly possible to learn to play guitar without reading music, it's certainly useful. The ability to read tab, sheet music and other charts makes it quite easy for you to access the thousands of songs that are notated in this way.

Finally, even if you do use video or software as part of your guitar learning, books still provide a useful different perspective. You learn things in different ways and the book can give you insights that you'd miss if you only watch video - and vice versa of course.

For all these reasons I think that books and writing still have a role to play in guitar learning for a while to come. What about you?

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original content for your guitar web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.

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1 comment:

MJK (Mike) said...

I still think, while in limited form, books will still be needed. There are still some folk, like me, that like items printed out. I have down loaded several guitar books and while I can read them on the computer, I like the option to print and take it with me.

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