Special Exercises Help Beginning Guitarists Learn Faster

Author: Greg's Guitar Lessons
Dateline: Wed, 05 Apr 2006

freeNewsArticles Story Summary: “HOUSTON, TX – Apr. 5 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — If you’ve gotten frustrated with learning to play the guitar, don’t give up yet. Greg Varhaug, of Greg’s Guitar Lessons, is a Houston musician and guitar teacher who has spent over 15 years developing and testing effective learning shortcuts for guitarists, and he offers some unique advice to aspiring players.”

A R T I C L E:

HOUSTON, TX – April 5 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — If you’ve gotten frustrated with learning to play the guitar, don’t give up yet. Greg Varhaug, of Greg’s Guitar Lessons, is a Houston musician and guitar teacher who has spent over 15 years developing and testing effective learning shortcuts for beginning guitarists, and he offers some unique advice to aspiring players.

A series of special exercises is helping his beginning students attain some impressive results. These exercises focus primarily on the fretting hand. Varhaug says that fretting notes on the guitar neck with your left hand is the hardest thing about first learning to play. “Your first step is to eliminate tension in the left hand. Tension in the fretting hand is probably the number-one reason people get discouraged and quit playing. Left-hand tension complicates other problems like rhythm and strumming. Getting rid of this tension is easy, once you recognize it as the root problem.”

*(Photo Caption: Greg Varhaug playing live with his band Fuzzy Side Up.)

“When you sit down for your first guitar lesson, you probably imagine that you’re going to learn to imitate a series of movements. But from the first minute, you see that the real problem is forming individual still positions. You may think this is a ‘motion’ problem, but it isn’t.” The solution is to use a set of motionless exercises for the left hand, “kind of like yoga for your fingers.”

These exercises consist of about fifteen different still holds for the left hand on the guitar neck. Varhaug recommends doing these exercises while you watch TV, since they require no movement and no concentration. “Within a few weeks, these exercises completely change the way your hand feels when you fret notes. If your hand is comfortable in each individual still position, then moving between positions is easy.”

Varhaug says that by practicing still positions first, you can cut learning time by weeks or months. “Most of my adult and teen beginners can play along with simple songs by bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Eagles or Greenday in two or three weeks. Some of the most popular songs in history are actually very simple songs.”

Varhaug operates HoustonGuitar.Com, a Website that allows visitors to see complete lessons online. The site offers visitors free access to a hands-on, play-by-ear approach to learning the guitar. Using still photos, HoustonGuitar.Com demonstrates simple hand-conditioning techniques that make learning chords and scales easier. The site also offers online guitar lessons, along with CDs and downloads.

Varhaug says that there are many good instructional products for intermediate players, but there has been no real innovation in approaches for beginners in recent years. “Year after year, the major publishers repackage the same beginner’s methods they’ve been selling since the 1950’s and ’60’s, which weren’t very effective even in their day. The music student of the 1960’s is not the music student of today. The music has changed, but the music books haven’t. We try to addresses the needs of modern students.”

Varhaug maintains that old-school methods have been especially ineffective when it comes to teaching mechanics, that is getting your fingers to do what you want them to on the guitar.

Another reason for starting his Website is what Varhaug calls “a disconnect between popular beginner’s methods and the way professional players really think and work. For instance, most working players pick their parts out by ear from a CD. They can do this because they know which shape on the guitar neck produces a particular sound. There’s absolutely no mystery about how this is done. It’s simply recognizing a melody.”

“Most people can learn to associate a shape with a sound. And this does not require perfect-pitch. We’re not talking about using perfect-pitch to identify a sting of individual notes and chords. Associating melody and shape is a completely different mental process.”

This means you don’t have to read music in order to play. “It’s a myth that you have to read music in order to play guitar. There are advantages to reading music, but you don’t have to read in order to play. Many professional players don’t use sheet music or charts in their day to day work. I want to show beginning guitarists how to become confident, street-wise players.”

About Greg Varhaug

Greg Varhaug is a musician, and private music instructor based in Houston, Texas. He has over 15 years continuous music-teaching experience. He has written and recorded music for numerous commercials and promotional videos. He holds an English degree and has written on computers and music. Guitar-instruction products are available for sale directly through his web site at http://www.houstonguitar.com.

Contact: Greg Varhaug, Greg’s Guitar Lessons, 281-799-9322


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Story Title: Special Exercises Help Beginning Guitarists Learn Faster
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