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Issue 8.5


GarageBand Music Lessons

Issue: 8.5 (July/August 2010)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,064
Starting Page Number: 15
Article Number: 8503
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Full text of article...

Music lessons for guitar are plentiful on the web. Video lessons, web pages, tabulature, and more are easily available. Good lessons, however, are few and far between. And Internet lessons are often hard to follow. Just because a medium like the web offers easy ways to teach things doesn't mean that everyone can make good instructional lessons there.

The last version of GarageBand was introduced with music lessons, notably guitar lessons. Steve Jobs waxed warm about the feature, showing how it could work with basic instruction but also with special music lessons with artists like Sting and John Mayer. Unfortunately, these music lessons seem to have dropped by the wayside since then. We don't hear much about them, and we haven't seen much new content introduced to the Lesson Store. I decided to try the lessons for guitar to see how valuable they are.

The eight basic lessons are freely downloadable from within the GarageBand application. Once they're downloaded, they show up in the Learn to Play section in the left pane of the GarageBand window. It takes a bit of time to start up a lesson, which seems a bit odd. Once it's started, you have two modes in each lesson, Learn and Play. You start with Learn, which explains each concept and how to perform the lesson topic. Your host, Tim, seems friendly and helpful. Tim goes over each piece of the lesson. He does it well, with a good pace but with clear instruction.

Once you're done with the Learn section, you're on to the Play section. This is where you practice. You can watch Tim play himself while you play along with your own instrument. The key ingredient to the Play section is that you can slow down the tempo of Tim's playing to a level you can follow, without making things sound odd or distorted. That way you can gradually increase the speed of your playing until you're performing at the lesson's top tempo. This has proven to be a great success for new musicians, and is one of the key winning features of music lessons in GarageBand.

Once you're beyond the basic lessons, you can buy targeted special Artist Lessons for $4.99 each. You can learn to play Proud Mary from John Fogarty or Roxanne from Sting. The possibilities of the Lesson Store are very promising.

But something is missing from the concept's execution. For one thing, the basic lessons could be augmented by more advanced lessons for a fee. More artist lessons should be added. Even more, though, the use of GarageBand as a delivery mechanism for a Lesson Store seems odd. The Lesson Store might be much more successful if it was tied to the iTunes Store. Of course, the iTunes Store is geared for consumption, not creation, but podcasts and the App Store can be creative and interactive, and they're in the iTunes Store. The future will tell how (and how successfully) the Lesson Store will advance.

End of article.