Friday, February 11, 2005

My First Guitar...

I've been playing guitar for over 29 years. In fact, deciding that I wanted to play the guitar was probably the best decision that I have ever made in my life. It has given me so much enjoyment over the years that I really couldn't even begin to put a price tag on it. I've even been fortunate enough to use my musical talents to further my broadcasting career, jam with friends, write songs, record, and perform live in front of huge crowds. I've shared the stage with fantastic talents like KORN, Joe Satriani, Great White, Type O Negative, and many others. I not only play guitar for my job, but I also do it for fun.

My parents purchased my first guitar for me back when I was in the 4th grade. At that time, I didn't want to play guitar, I actually wanted to play the trumpet! What was I thinking? They said Trumpets were to much money, and brought me down to Consolidated Music in Barrington Illinois, a very small but cool hometown music store located about a half a block off of main street. The store is still there today. I can still remember the sales girl showing me my first Chord, it was a G Chord. The guitar was inexpensive, and didn't play very well at all. I think they paid about $40 for it. The strings were very tight and were so far off the neck that you could use it as a cheese cutter.

Once a week, I would walk with my guitar in a vinyl gig bag up to the music store after school for my half hour lesson. My teacher, I have forgot his name, sucked. He would teach me 3 notes a week, all on one string. 3 weeks into the lessons, and only 8 notes on 3 strings, this was way to slow for me. I decided I could teach myself and accelerate my progress. I purchased a couple of songs books from the store and headed home confident that I would soon be a huge guitar star. Within a week I had learned several songs from a John Denver song book. My friends still kid me about it. My first song was "Leaving on a Jet Plane". wow.

I stuck with it, and did a lot of reading. I soon learned the chords and all the notes. My mom had already taught me how to read music, so I was quickly learning new songs almost every day. I really enjoyed playing the guitar, and would play every single day after school for about 4 hours. Since I didn't have a stereo or record player I just learned the songs from the book, having never heard them before. I knew who Elvis was, and The Beatles, and took to learning their material when I could.

After a few months my father, who was a liquor salesman, hired the son of one of his clients to come over to my house and teach me guitar lessons once a week. I'll never forget Kirk Brikowski, he had the longest hair I had ever seen on anybody. It was straight, and blond, he looked a lot like Bob Segar. Kirk was cool man, he use to be in a band called Sorcery and showed me their record. Yeah, I was impressed, but I didn't want to learn rock. I wanted to learn Classical guitar. Kirk was great, confused, but acquired the materials that I would need and began teaching me guitar. In hindsight, I wish I would have had Kirk teach me rock guitar. He was a very skilled player and would have saved me years of learning rock on my own. Classic.

Well, that was 29 years ago, and I'm still not a huge guitar star. Since then I have learned many styles; Classical, Jazz, Country, Rock, Metal, Punk, Blue Grass, and Blues. All of these styles have melted into my own original playing style, fused into a kind of hybrid tone. It's been a great journey and I still have a long way to go.

My goal here is to help others who wish to follow the path of the guitar. Most of the lessons and tips will be geared towards self learning, however I would strongly suggest that you find yourself a skilled instructor and sign on for some one on one lessons. Learning on your own is essential, but you will learn faster from a skilled instructor who can critique your playing and offer suggestions and guidance.

I will provide instruction and tips for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players. I will also provide information on buying guitars, acoustic and electric, amps, gear, as well as, live performances. Music is personal, and everybody has their own tastes. I'm not going to teach you how to play songs, I'm going to teach you how to learn songs and perform those songs. We will cover exercises for your body and your mind. We will train you ears and your fingers.

My goal is to teach you how to learn.

Welcome young Jedi... You have already taken your first step twords a long and colorful musical journey.