Some pages fell out of a 3-ring binder full of guitar lessons today. About 10 years ago, I decided to try a mail order correspondence course called Guitar College. Back then I thought the audio lectures were sometimes corny and unprofessional. The instructor was not very articulate, and he often to rambled along into digression. In one lesson, you could hear him shouting at his wife in the background. In another, he complained about his mouth not working after paying to have his nose fixed. Worst of all was an appeal to the value of learning bebop lines that had more than anything else had convinced me to quote the divorce agreement to get my Dad to cough up $300 to buy the lessons.

Nevertheless, the material in the binder was challenging, and I realize now what a positive effect they had on my development. There’s still some basic stuff in there that I can’t play perfectly at high tempos, like arpeggios around the cycle of fourths. Yet lessons on chord progression, theory and scale applications were very hands-on and helped me understand things like minor blues, dominant chords and tunes like Cantaloupe Island. The transcriptions in the annoying bebop-blues lesson were critical to my ability to play jazz.

Today, I went through some pages from a lesson on “Whole Tone Scales.” It’s not so hard to play a whole tone scale on the guitar because it’s constructed all whole steps, but applying them is a challenge. Some of fingerings seemed useless as scale forms, but make good finger exercise. Once I actually use this stuff to make music though, I am able to really create the value in the lesson for myself. The lesson also had a bunch of augmented chord voicings that are not part of my vocabulary. 10 years ago they probably sounded terrible, but on the GB-10 they sound great.



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