I wanted to pass along a very nice find I made this weekend to any of you that might now have or have had aspirations to learn to play the guitar. I have been seeking out a place to take guitar lessons for the first time - after MANY iterations of the following cycle: periods of self teaching and then abandonment...   

Recently, the motivation to learn to play has peaked again - so I reached for my notebook and began to seek out my options for lessons. I found a variety of online and offline sources. Prices for offline, face to face instruction averaged about $60 per hour. These instructors will generally completely tailor the training to each of their students, making the experience both rewarding and enjoyable. I also expect that I would be made to drill incessantly in order to acclimate my fingers and hand muscles to the fretboard and the strings. Why not look for a cheaper alternative for this beginning phase? Until the new Garage Band lessons come of age, I'll try my luck on the net.

I first came across Berklee Music Online. They have enough free lessons, guitar and almost everything else, to properly evaluate the course. This is it I think. Excellent, clear instruction with good video streaming, a large amount of supplemental materials are available as well. I got out my credit card and proceeded to the enrollment area to find out these courses are all nearly $1000 each! I won't say that the price would NOT be worthy, but for that amount I can easily have face to face instruction with a local teacher.

Next and final stop: Jamplay.com. This one is only for learning guitar - but suitable for my present situation. So here is the quick and dirty of how the site and subscription works: The beginner phase starts just there - "This is the fretboard" and up through fairly complex chord progressions and scales. Phase 2 is genre teaching. Rock, Blues, Bluegrass, Metal, Classic Rock, Fingerstyle, Lead, Speed, Jazz, Celtic, AND Hawaiian Slack Key! Jamplay employs over 20 different instructors as well - so far all of them have been interesting and very competent teachers. Phase three is song teaching. Jamplay maintains a large database of video tutorials for many popular songs. There is no restriction on moving freely between phases - no completion is necessary to progress.

All of the jamplay.com content is delivered via low, medium, or high quality video streaming plus supplemental material. The pricing is great as well. $20 monthly fee will give you complete access to the entire site. One can even save a bit by paying $50 quarterly or $139 yearly!

So, if you are worried about investing ALOT of your hard earned cash into lessons because you just aren't sure how dedicated you are - THIS is for you. Give it a try - personally tailored lessons can always be the next - after all the drilling = ). That's it for now - the fingers on the left hand are still sore from the weekend!