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A New Guitar for Christmas:
How to turn a Christmas gift into success.

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By Len Collins
Guitar Breakthrough the Guitar Tuition Program that gives your playing a future

A New Guitar for Christmas: How to turn a Christmas gift into success. A musician article for guitar players, teachers and wannabe's alike.

As Christmas draws ever closer many of the people who read these articles will be expecting to become the proud owner a brand new guitar. A Christmas present from their family or a gift to themselves. So far so good! This guarantees the forthcoming new year will really get off to a good start and give your ambition plenty to aim at.

My main concern is that your achievement matches your ambition.

OK. What’s the plan for the new year? You can polish the guitar’s body to keep the shine on the paint-work immaculate so that when you sell it you’ll get a good price. You can prance around the bedroom making "Da dang, da dang," noises until you get bored with the whole rock star thing and decide to become a doctor instead. Or, strangely enough, learn how to play it properly.

There has always been a big conflict of interest going on inside a guitarist’s mind: Should you rock till you drop or, before you drop, add some knowledge into your playing. Many guitarists side-step this issue completely by claiming that knowledge stifles their creativity. It seems odd to me that these are the same guitarists who download and print out TAB by the ton so that they can copy other peoples’ originality. These are the least creative of all guitarists.

Knowledge is the main source of a musician’s creativity.

Let me tell you about Terry. This is not Peter’s real name and seeing that I’m making the whole character up it doesn’t matter what he’s called. In fact Terry could be a girl called Carole, but sadly you’ll never know.

Terry has a guitar, it’s a nice one. He got it about this time last year. The excitement when he unwrapped the present was immense, even though he’d been to the music shop and had chosen the instrument himself. Not being able to touch the guitar for a whole month nearly killed him.

Along with the guitar came a reasonable sized amp, a nice case, a strap, a pick and a music book. Every day Terry would practise long and hard, often deep into the night. But sadly, by the end of January Terry was already getting bored, ‘There’s got to be more to it than this?’ he thought. For once in his life Terry was right. It was a strange sensation, although at the time he didn’t know that he was right.

With only a limited collection of CDs in his possession and only a few tuneful riffs on each of the CDs, Terry had finally run out of everybody else’s ideas. His friends played what he played, he played what bored him. Terry and the TAB had run quickly its course.

It was sometime round March when Terry remembered the song book. For three months the book had waited patiently to be rediscovered. It had watched the printer by the side of Terry’s PC spill out the classics of rock and had suffered with Terry when he failed to play them. Sometimes, the book had to admit, that Terry the would-be rock star did get close a few times and occasionally sounded vaguely musical. The book also noticed when it listened to Terry and his guitar playing friends that some of them were beginning to sound quite good.

Terry though was losing interest and had started to clean and polish his guitar more often than he played it. It was time for the music book to enter the scene. The book found itself constantly being open and closed while Terry stared despairingly at the ceiling. Eventually, in frustration, the book flung itself at Terry’s feet landing face up so that the printed music could be seen.

‘What’s this?’ Terry sighed, picking up the book. The book tried to smile but failed as only a book can when trying to smile. Still, it bravely flapped the page that was opposite the printed melody encouraging Terry to look at the instructions on how to read music.

Terry, who had nothing better to do that day, began to get a decent feel for the notes on the fretboard as he played the tune that the book had opened up for him. After a couple of hours a melody appeared through the distortion that his amp always belted out.

‘Not bad,’ he whispered to himself, ‘not bad at all.’

‘Not bad,’ the book whispered to itself with an air of satisfaction, ‘not bad at all.’

Each day the book would present Terry with a new page and a new tune. Instructions on one page, melody on another. This was Terry’s secret and he kept it to himself. When his friends arrived to practise they all made mental notes not to say how impressed they were with the progress that Terry was making.

One day, when the decibels had subsided to conversation level, one of Terry’s friends finally asked the question that had puzzled them for months.

‘Are you having lessons?’ Each of his friends looked accusingly at Terry, waiting for an answer.

‘No!’ said Terry, who was shocked at such a suggestion. ‘This is rock and roll!’

The guitarists packed up their gear and sat staring at the floor. ‘Sorry about that,’ they said as they prepared to leave. ‘Didn’t mean to upset you.’

When they had gone Terry leaned back against the door and thought, ‘Maybe I should have lessons. I’m not getting anywhere, it’s all been a bit of a waste of time.’

Back in his room Terry thumbed dejectedly through the music book. He had managed to play all the tunes and knew the key that belonged to each of them. It was a good book.

Terry sat on his bed. While Terry sat there the book, with a great effort managed to open its last page and from it fell the address of a local guitar teacher. Terry looked at the paper and surprising himself suddenly telephoned the number printed at the bottom of the page. The teacher knew the book and agreed that this was the best way to learn.

Terry’s teacher took his work seriously. He encouraged his new student to join a band and to channel the new-found knowledge into it. No TAB just creativity and originality, creativity gained from knowledge, originality because it’s the only way to fly.

The moral is: Don’t just sit there holding the thing. Do something useful with it.

If you do get a new guitar for Christmas enjoy it, use it well and let me know how you get on.

Len Collins
Guitar Breakthrough the Guitar Tuition Program that gives your playing a future

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A New Guitar for Christmas. How to turn a Christmas gift into success. A musician article for guitar players, teachers and wannabe's alike.