Will you learn to play the guitar in 2014? (Image courtesy of satit_srihin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
First of all a Happy New Year to all our readers we hope that you had a restful holiday season. However, the midnight hour has been and gone the new year is here and so it is that time of year again. I don’t know why we do it but at the start of every New Year we just can’t help ourselves and we decide to set some resolutions that generally we don’t keep. But with Christmas out of the way, and that beautiful new guitar sitting there just waiting to be played perhaps we should set ourselves a New Year resolution that we stick to and that is to really learn the guitar in 2014!
Coming as it does straight after Christmas the tradition of New Year resolutions provide us all with the opportunity to take stock of our lives and decide on one or two areas for improvement. However, as with many things in life, we start off with noble intentions, but within a few weeks the resolutions have been forgotten and we are back to our bad old ways.
Take myself for instance, I am no different. Every year I set myself a couple of resolutions which I swear I will stick to. Incidentally every year one of my resolutions is always to spend more time trying to improve my guitar playing. But within a month I would say most of my good intentions have disappeared and I am no further on. I fall back into my sloppy habits and end up driving my family up the wall as I play the same tired old riffs and songs.
However, this year it is going to be different because I am determined to stick to my resolution of learning to play the guitar in 2014 and I think I have found a couple of excellent guitar learning tools that I think will allow me to meet my guitar playing aspirations. If you are like me and have set yourself the resolution of learning to play the guitar in 2014, but fear that you may fall by the wayside then you might be interested in giving these tools a go too.
Let me just clarify that learning to play the guitar is not easy. Whatever level you are in your guitar playing there is always room to learn more. And that is often the biggest problem. Because the guitar is a technically complex instrument to learn sometimes, I think, we all feel that we are not making any progress. That feeling of making no progress can lead to a lack of motivation and that once cherished guitar becomes an ornament that gathers dust in the corner of your room. So anything that can be used to focus your initial enthusiasm and maintain your motivation to learn more on the guitar can only be a good thing in my eyes.
So what are the tools that are going to help me keep my resolution to learn to play the guitar in 2014?
My first guitar tool that will help me stick to my resolution of learning to play the guitar in 2014 is Rocksmith 2014. Now I must admit that I received Rocksmith 2014 as a Christmas present and so I am still a relative novice. But I think that this, for me, is going to be one of the best guitar related presents I have received in a long time. Why do I think Rocksmith 2014 is so good? The main strength of Rocksmith 2014 is in the way that it structures the way you learn to play the guitar. You connect your guitar to your computer, Xbox or Playstation using the Real Tone USB cable and can access a whole plethora of learning features. There are all the basic lessons that you would expect and need to get your technique up to speed. In terms of the guitar lessons these are well thought out and take you from the basics of how to hold the guitar and fix a guitar strap to playing chords and scales. These basic lessons are reinforced in arcade style games where you can shoot Zombies by playing chords correctly, learn your scales in a rather bizarre but fun street fighting game or hone your string bending technique in the temple of bends. The good thing about the games is that you are building up your skills on the guitar in a fun interactive way that keeps you focussed and motivated. Rocksmith 2014 also employs a great reward system in which extra features in the game are unlocked as your guitar playing skills improve. The more progress you make the more features are on offer.
Once you feel that you have got to grips with some of the basics you can attempt to learn a song from the wide selection available. There are 50 songs included in Rocksmith 2014 but there are also 100 other songs that you can purchase through the Rocksmith 2014 online shop. If you like classic rock then you can choose to learn Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan’s version of Knocking on Heavens Door or My Generation by The Who. Fancy something a little bit more thrash than there is Cemetery Gate by Pantera or if you like your guitar music a bit technical then there is Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani. I would say there is pretty much a song to cater for most musical tastes.
The beauty of Rocksmith 2014 is that it really breaks down the learning of a song into the basics allowing you to learn the song at your own pace and only getting more complicated as your competence increases. For example I have started to learn Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones. When I first started to learn to play Paint it Black Rocksmith tested my guitar prowess by making me play along to the song. Initially playing just a few notes and changing the complexity based on whether I could keep up with the notes appearing on the screen. Once I completed this initial play through lesson Rocksmith 2014 formulated a learning path specifically designed to help me learn the song as quickly as possible. However, for me the most useful tool was the Riff Repeater. Using the Riff Repeater I could slow down particular sequences of the song to give myself the time to become competent in playing that sequence. I could make the riff more basic by lowering the difficulty rating or song speed, this reduced the riff down to the basic notes and slowed the speed of the song. Once I had mastered the riff at a reduced speed I could increase the difficulty so that I was eventually playing all the notes in the riff correctly and at full speed. This is a truly brilliant learning feature which I found extremely useful.
As I mentioned I am still a relative novice as far as Rocksmith is concerned and I will post a more thorough review in due course but certainly Rocksmith 2014 is a great game for keeping you focussed, motivated and keen to learn more. This is all very important if I am going to stick to my New Year resolution to learn to play the guitar in 2014.
You can buy Rocksmith 2014 Edition including Real Tone cable through Amazon for £40.
Next up is Jam Play. Now regular readers will know that I have mentioned Jamplay before and will know that I am a big fan. For those that don’t know Jam Play is an online provider of guitar and bass lessons. The reason Jam Play is so good can be attributed to the sheer volume and quality of the content that they have provided. What’s more not happy to sit on their laurels they are committed to continuously adding more great material. Jam Play covers all the musical genres from Rock, Metal and Trash to Jazz Blues and Country. All lessons are shot in high definition and every note is transcribed so that you can save it to your computer for use after you have finished. You can create chord and scale libraries and use these to create your own individual practice sessions. The good thing is that you can progress at your own pace. If there is something in a lesson that you have not fully understood you can pause or re-wind the lesson and start again. All in all Jam Play provides you with a complete learning package that you can access from your desktop. To read a more in-depth review of Jam Play read the article Learn to Play Guitar with Jam Play.
So there we have it if you have made a resolution to learn to play the guitar in 2014 we think that Rocksmith 2014 and Jam Play are two must have items to keep you on target to achieve your guitar playing aspirations.
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