Friday, February 10, 2012

Beginning Guitar: Apple’s GarageBand

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I decided to emulate my Guitar Hero  son Tazer and start playing guitar as well. I love to try out new things and usually I try to pick up as much as I can on my own. This is two-pronged: one, I am one who learns more from doing and making mistakes and two, I am a cheap son-of- a-bitch. So I’ve been exploring differing ways to learning, starting close to home. Our Mac computer comes with GarageBand, Apple’s multi-faceted app.

"Welcome to the school of rock. A Mac-size practice space. Your own recording studio. If you want to learn to play an instrument, write music, or record a song, GarageBand has everything you need.

First GarageBand teaches you how to play. Then it tests your chops. As you play along with any lesson, record yourself. GarageBand listens in real time and tells you how you’re doing. You’ll see how well you played with colored notes, a progress bar, and a performance meter. You can check your rhythm and note accuracy, keep track of your progress, and beat your best score — all while perfecting your skills.

With 22 new genre-based lessons (40 in all), you can pick up the basics of piano, guitar, or even both. Video demonstrations, synchronized notation, and instrument animations make lessons fun and easy to follow. And you can learn at your own pace. You’ll jam with the Blues Guitar and Rock Guitar series. You’ll master classical piano pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, or Chopin. And you’ll play Top 40-style piano with the Pop Piano series. The new built-in glossary is a great reference for tuning your guitar, changing strings, reading music, finding basic chords and scales, and more. With the Chord Trainer, you’ll master the most important guitar chords by shape, which makes it easier to keep them straight."

The GarageBand built-in tuner is relatively intuitive and useful. The lessons start out simply enough, but rapidly increase in difficulty almost right away. Though it’s a pretty package, I’d say this is too complex for most people to start out on, or at least it was for me. I know that someday I’ll come back to this, both as a refresher and to avail myself of the myriad features included.

Do you play guitar?
Did you learn on your own or use a teacher?

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  1. So now I know what that icon is all about on my new Mac! Very cool that you are trying that out. Keeps the old mind working and warding off Alheimer's. ; )

  2. Nice to hear you two practicing together - hope you both stick with it:)

  3. I didn't take many guitar lessons, just enough to pick up the basics - basic chords & scales.

    But I did get a lot of formal music theory training. So knowing all that I was able to build off the basic guitar stuff on my own.

    I don't think I've ever opened garage band. When (and if) I record these days I use a program called Logic Audio.

  4. Very cool. Recording music and lessons are becoming more accessible everyday. I did some PC based multi track recording stuff in the early 2000s and latency was a horrible issue, nonexistent now, cost is way down too.

    I would consider PC based practice a good supplement to individual instruction. I took individual and group lessons for guitar and bass and would consider the social aspect well worth the cost. Being able to play well with others takes practicing with others and a lot more nuanced details can be picked up in a short time.

    Formal instruction gets cost prohibitive and can be cut loose after establishing some foundation. The best route is having friends that are passionate about music, better, and patient. Like minded peer groups can be the best way to get better and tend to be $0.

    On an unrelated note North Face Endurance Challenge registration is open.

  5. Though I know how to generally read music (can sight read sing nearly anything), I have never really learned how to play and instrument (though I gave the violin a 2 year shot in grade school). I have always wanted to learn piano - someday.


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