Let’s Go to This!

Alex Komodore, the guitar guru at Metro State and one of my local heros, is offering single and pairs of tickets for  DGO members (that’s YOU if you’re getting this email!) to Ioana Grandrabur’s concert this Friday night.

Amazing guitar player. She does it all without the gift of sight.

If you want to go, you need to send me your name and the name of a guest who’d like to come with you. You still have a friend, right?! I need you to let me know by noon on Monday.

Here’s the scoop:

Book 4A Available


Hooray!! Book 4A is done and MOST of the typos have vanished. I always keep a few mistakes around so you can find them and I can pretend I meant to leave them there. I’m incredibly happy and proud of this book and it has enough great music and education in it to last you a year or more. Call the shop and I’ll tell you how to get a copy. So now we move onto book 4B … what do you want to see in there?

Giuseppe Torrisi

Giuseppe teaches guitar in Italy and posts new arrangements at an alarming rate. He has a bunch of free stuff on his website and way too many songs for sale. Here’s a video of him playing Peter Gunn.

Fixed the MP3 Player … Again

After about 400 hours of wasted time, the sound files are coming back on line. The website kept crashing because of the MP3 players, so I’ve eliminated all of them except the one at the bottom of the Sheet Music page. If you want to hear a song prior to downloading it, go there. You can download the MP3s from the player directly for the songs you want to master.

Goals for 2018

Where We Are Going


New pieces:

Starting in January, we’ll have the opportunity to begin building your permanent repertoire. Let’s find songs that matter to you — songs worth memorizing. And then let’s create great arrangements of them you could play as a solo.

Let’s also offer them to the group so we can play them like 90 percent of guitar players would … by strumming and singing them … and then let’s create great orchestral arrangements of them too using melody, chords, counter melodies, arpeggios, and all the other tricks we know to make simple pieces sound complex and complex pieces easy to play.

My personal goal is to finish Book 3 so we’ll have a full public domain program to get anybody up and running well, and I plan to augment our classical repertoire and our etudes.


Community and educational involvement:

There are plenty of ways to learn and play guitar — some better than others — and there are a few open groups in town with meetings you should check out. We’re taking one approach to guitar by thinking about large-group instrumental performance, but let’s sneak around town and find out what others are doing to see if we can borrow their good ideas to make our rehearsal time more valuable.


Skills development:

Let’s find the weaknesses in your skill set and fix a couple of them. If you want to be better at something, let me help you plot a course on how to get there. Playing with an ensemble will always be an important component of any program to improve your skills.

There are only two keys to being a great musician: Practicing at home, and showing up to rehearsal. If you have to make with choice between the two, showing up is far and away the most important thing you can do. Plus it’s fun.



The minute we have 20 people showing up regularly, I’ll add a Sunday night session. Let’s work as a team to find those people who need guitar in their lives and talk them into showing up. Every one of you could teach Book 1 to somebody this year and start a new musical life for a family member or a friend. That would be the best $20 Christmas gift you could give.

I intend to offer this program to a number of community centers and libraries this year so we can grow more quickly. If you know of people in the community with connections for programming, give them my email address.

We might even put on a recital this year. Let’s rawk.

Changing Chords

When to change chords?

I read a dozen articles on the web just now after the question came up at rehearsal this week. Most people could do themselves a life-long favor by focusing more on playing melody and rhythm well, than working on their chords, but in backward-guitar-land, chords are a big deal to people. So here’s a summary of ideas:

  • Strum first sing second. You need to have the chord in place prior to the start of the syllable in the lyrics.
  • Abandon the previous chord as early as you need. Everybody changes chords at a different rate and it takes more time to get the difficult chords in place. Let the melody players or singers be the star while you get ready to hit the next chord without messing up the rhythm and flow of the song.
  • Rhythm is more important than anything else. If you can’t get your chord in place, switch to plucking out the melody or singing real loud until you can return to the chords.
  • Plan on having beat ONE right. The rest of the measure will take care of itself, but get the first beat of any chord correct.
  • Listen and feel. This is how folk guitarists who don’t read any music can get so good. They rely on their ears to help them make great choices. The good news is, it usually works. The bad news is, you get stuck playing songs only one way because new choices will be heard as “wrong.” If you’re playing college-level classical music, there’s a “right” way to play a song, everything else is open to your own ideas.
  • Strum patterns are lame. Unless you’re trying to copy somebody you heard on the radio, you need to bring your own ideas to a tune. Don’t think there is one “right” strum pattern. Try playing on the beat, or with the speed of the notes, or an arpeggio pattern, or fast, or slow, or not at all. Be adventurous. You’re an artist, not a robot.

Preparing for a Performance

Preparing a song to solo or play in a small ensemble? Here are your 9 steps:

  1. Listen to a recording of the sheet music.
  2. Study every mark on the paper.
  3. Practice and memorize in small sections.
  4. Play through the whole piece VERY slowly.
  5. Fix the areas where you’re struggling. Simplify if needed.
  6. Play at speed without using the sheet music.
  7. Play at speed with a metronome, your partner, the recording, or a percussive friend.
  8. Throw your metronome away and create YOUR final version with your artistic vision of what the piece should mean.
  9. Play for your audience and make them weep.

Even if you’re not going to play “memorized,” you probably should still be so familiar with the paper that you’ll barely need it.

What Kind of a Guitarist are You?

Which kind of guitarists are mixed up in your soul?

  • The quiet kind hoping nobody finds out you’re trying to learn?
  • The really quiet kind who’s been playing in the basement for years?
  • The loud kind that hopes your personality is bigger than your skills deficit?
  • The over-educated kind that talks a good game? (That’s me!)
  • The fun one who just likes to get together and try?
  • The kind who’s played off and on and off again for decades?
  • The guitar acquisition guru who lives on the web reading about guitars?
  • The judgmental guitarist who finds flaws in others?
  • The rock star who’s been entertaining crowds forever?
  • What other types have you met?

DGO won’t care if you’re a mix of several types of guitarist as long as you’ll practice at home, show up to rehearsal, and not be a pain in the neck to be around. If that’s you … come hang out with us.