Toasted marshmallows, campfire songs to learn... 7 Years, 11 Months ago
TG Newsletter #16 - September 5th, 2009
In this issue you'll find...
- What's going on at Totally Guitars?
- Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...
- The TG Forum
- Ask Neil
- The TG Blog
What's Going On?
As summer comes to a close here in Northern California, although
many would say summer never ends here, I see about 500 things
happening here at Totally Guitars, most still in the pipeline but
many are being rolled out right now. Here are some of the latest
The Campfire Versions
In the last few days we have started posting a series of lessons on
songs that can be played very simply, mostly by just strumming the
chords and singing them. I have often referred to these as Campfire
Songs. We are bringing out dozens of extra-short lessons teaching
just these types of songs, and they will all be free to all our
subscribers, no monthly membership required.
One great thing about The Campfire Versions is that it will give me
a chance to talk a bit about songs that might not really require
the in-depth dissection of the TARGET lessons, or even the lighter
analysis of songs in the TARGET Shorts category.
Most of these lessons will be around 10 minutes long, and give you
all the info you should need to strum and sing the song, as if
around a campfire with a group of friends. All you need to know is
a few standard chords and be able to keep a consistent strumming
We started the series this week with 5 songs- A Horse With No Name,
Helpless, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Military Madness, and Rockin'
In The Free World. Probably the best thing about The Campfire
Versions is that they will be free to all our visitors. It is also
giving me a chance to look at more recent tunes. Already in the
pipeline are songs by Green Day, Death Cab For Cutie, the Counting
Crows, and a few real surprises.
Big Jim and Matt have been burning the midnight oil lately putting
the finishing touches on our new Master Menu. This is a place where
you can find links to all the videos and material at
Totally Guitars. Everything is categorized by where it is (Free
Lessons, TARGET Lessons, More Of The Story, etc.) and also by the
I have been working on classifying every lesson as to the
approximate level of difficulty and we just about have that
incorporated into the Master Menu. There are also links to all the
Pay-Per-Lesson videos that are now available to all our subscribers.
The Master Menu was an item we had in our overall game plan but due
to numerous requests from our TARGET members we moved it up on the
priority scale. Check it out when you can.
We have started another new feature called the TG News Break. This
is a special Forum thread that contains a weekly video update.
Every Friday I will shoot a short (yeah, right) video talking about
highlights of the previous week. It will contain some of the same
information found in this newsletter but since we have become a
video society, it seems like a great way to keep everybody
informed. Now if I can only get over my severe case of camera
We will be going live for our TARGET members next Saturday,
September 12, at 3:00 PM in California. I'm sure those not in
California can do the math, but that will be 6:00 PM in New York,
11:00 PM in London, midnight in Paris, and Sunday morning across
the Pacific (not nearly as early as the last episode.
Last week we were a little more organized than usual, partly due to
everybody submitting questions on the Forum during the week before.
If there is something you would like to see addressed, be sure to
post your questions on the TG Live board.
We also posted Episode 8 of the series on Saturday, less than 24
hours after the live broadcast. I really need to thank some of the
behind the scenes folks who make this type of thing possible but a
couple of them are so shy they don't even want me to mention their
names. I will work on a few self-esteem lessons for them and maybe
I can introduce them next week.
This week we have been hard at work updating the Master Menu. We
added our student review You Tube graphics across the site to help
more people learn about this opportunity to get their guitar
playing reviewed. Other areas of heavy work that no one can see yet
have been on future changes to the site that we have been sworn to
secrecy on. We have a lot of items on the burners behind the scenes.
We managed to get another three songs up this week for our TARGET
members. The 1st song was Yellow Submarine, by the Beatles. This is
a song that really could be categorized as a Campfire Song, and it
may be partly responsible for the creation of the series.
I also posted a second ukulele lesson on the old standard I'll See
You In My Dreams. This song had a recent revival when it appeared
in the movie The Concert For George. It was played at the end of
the movie, by George Harrison's good friend Joe Brown. It was a
real tearjerker. I hope everybody has seen the movie.
The last song to go up this week was Sister Golden Hair by America.
This is a great strumming song that almost fits into the Campfire
category. It is a bunch of chords in the key of E, meaning lots of
barre chords, and a syncopated rhythm..
Following is a recap of some of the details about the TARGET
The TARGET Program is pretty revolutionary as far as an online
teaching system goes in that it is very interactive. There are many
ways that I stay in touch and interact with my online students. We
have an exclusive section in our Forum where I answer questions
from members, as well as take requests for upcoming lessons.
This interactivity even reaches out to live broadcasts for our
members where we play some songs, help resolve music problems, and
generally have an online group get together in real time. These
episodes are part of out TG Live! Series.
If you are serious about improving your guitar abilities I really
encourage you to join our TARGET Program while it is still open. I
can't say how many students we will be able to handle but I know
there will be a limit as to how many I feel I can work with. I want
to be able to devote the same time and attention to my online
students as I do for students I see in my studio every week.
I really have to thank everybody for many of the comments that have
been coming in. You guys are great!
The Forums have been busier than ever this week, so I can't even
begin to get all the fun stuff in this Newsletter. You have got to
check the threads out on your own.
Official Campfire Versions Feedback Thread
Wow sounds so important when I use the word "Official". Neil, Matt,
Big Jim..........I give the Campfire Versions a big thumbs up. This
is a welcome addition to a struggling beginner like myself.
Yes, the campfire versions are tons of fun, especially for us
beginners. I can't wait to see what else comes down the pipe! Great
idea. I think that a good mix of these and the full lessons will go
nicely together and keep everyone EXTREMELY busy.......
Thanks TG folks!
Hey great idea Neil! I checked out "Horse with no Name" last night.
For me I will use these as "fill in" tunes. Meaning that if I am
working on a more complicated piece, I can take a quick break from
it and learn a new tune in a few minutes. This should eliminate the
"stuck in the mud" feeling I get when I take a long time to learn a
new tune and feel like my progress is slowed down because of it.
Like "between meal snacks". Soooo good. They're fun and more times
than not, crowd pleasers. Plus they're good to get the "lyric
writing side" of the brain working. Good idea Neil and thanks,
Like Willem, my thumbs are also pointed upstairs!
I've realized I'm basically a campfire pro as I have 200 songs in
my own songbook which I can do pretty much by heart... all more or
less at that level. So I feel at home with these and look forward
to picking up new ones.
If you want to play guitar among friends the more songs you know
the better! This seems like a really good way to extend your
catalog of songs a bit. A song does not have to be advanced to go
home with the crowd!
Ranking Of Songs On Master Menu
This is a very helpful addition. Thanks. Rob
I think this has to be one of the better things to date on the
site. Colour (color for Bear) coded and numbered easy stuff now.
Big thanks guys keep the innovations coming. Chasplaya
Hey Matt, just to let you know that I am really impressed with what
all of you behind the scenes at TG are doing. You are on the ball,
fast and know what you are doing. The way you are driving the
development of the site is inspiring. So you can have two days, at
least for all that! Please pass on my sincere back slapping to all
in reach. Chris
Matt- not sure who's responsible for the new Master Menu but it is
fantastic!! Very well done guys!! Major improvement and maybe we
can put the continual question of song difficulty to bed.
I've never seen a group of people so intent on making something
already the best on the web even better! Your commitment to the
TARGET program and ability to listen to us members is so unique and
very much appreciated! I can't wait for what's upcoming in songs,
lessons and all the rest. Plus we get some good laughs along the
way!! Should be called Total Therapy not Totally Guitars! Rick
...and from TG Matt...
Had to send my Ukranian Ganster programmer on 2 weeks leave , he is
so exhausted..he has been with me for 6 year snow, Big JIm is doing
a stellar job, Neil of course as always is just a joy, but their
are others..we added a greek God, Olympus from my other business,
and we have Cheryle starting tommorow in service, and we have had
cameo roles from a bunch of folk, we also have a few "special
But the main thing the most important thing is getting the quality
content coming..and that is what we are working on hardest..
Plus we will be shutting down target soon to new members, as we
build the program..so planning that..
and then theirs the elephant in teh room imbetween live concerts,
guest appearances, new content, live shows, service, forum,
maintence and upgrading this site..and the secret hushs hush stuff
we have coming
their is of course the darn new site that will replace this
somewhat clunky thing..
Phew..I am so glad I only have 2 other companies I am involved with
and 1 consultancy client left, at least this stuff is fun..and you
guys make it so...
...then from some heretical lunatic...
As a long time lurker but 1st time poster, who always meant to get
a degree in English, or anything for that matter, I just noticed
that teh grammar/syntax police have been taking it easy on you
lately so it is time to address a SERIOUS issue. With a little more
careful typing, yuo might be able to control teh use of the article
teh. I'm not sure their is a way to really correct misuse of teh
article itself but their might be some electro-shock therapy
available. As much as I love theis lessons, I have trouble with
such inattention two important details that drive many of teh
faithful up teh proverbial wall. I am sure I will get slammed for
such blasphemous comments but I just had to speke my mind. I hope I
can still be a mamber of theis great sight. Anon
Then it sort of spun out of control into a lot of fun for everyone.
Check out the rest of the thread- click here www.totallyguitars.com/forum?func=view&a...atid=11&id=10594
Some recent Q&A-
Why do you use your thumb to hit the G string in Blackbird, instead
of using your first finger? I have always played it using my first
finger to hit the G, does it matter?
I learned Blackbird (incorrectly) before I found TG- and even
posted a version in the 'TG Community' Video section. You'll notice
I started the vid off by saying 'not to play it this way'- for the
reasons described in the above link.
I think we have gotten a few too many thousand posts to always
research questions before asking. I think it's great to bring
anything up, as I know somebody will resurrect the answer way
before I can.
The nutshell answer to your question is that the common technique
knows as Travis Picking (erroneously named after somebody who
didn't do it), needs to have the bass notes alternating strings and
all hit with the thumb for consistency in tone and volume. This is
not the way Paul McCartney played it anyway, but all that is
discussed in the TARGET lesson.
And again from Kenny
I played Blackbird with my thumb, the best I could, and WOW what a
difference the G bass note sounded so deep. I never realized how
week I was playing it. That's why I'm here to learn all I can,
A Question On Parallel Thirds
I was working on a fill for peaceful easy filling using parallel
thirds and went backed and watched the lesson on Brown Eyed Girl
where the AC is a minor third instead of a major.
Normally if the key is G, wouldnt the C be C#.
So when doing a fill in parallel thirds when do you know when to
add in the minor thirds versus the major thirds.
Each note of the third should be in the key, so some will be major
and some will be minor. This will make them match up with the
triads in the key. There is an exception to this in Brown Eyed Girl
when the lead moves up to the C chord. Who can figure it out and
explain to everybody?
well it would seem there should be a F# for this key and the next
third could be
DF#, but it its a minor third then it would be DF
or else it could be that its the G blues scale?
It seems to me that if indeed "Brown Eyed Girl" is in the key of G
then the C chord is the IV chord. The notes in the key of G are G,
A, B, C, D, E, F#, so in the key of G, C is natural not sharp. The
intro thirds are done off of the G, C, G, D chord progression. When
in the intro changes from the G chord to the C chord it uses thirds
contained in the key of C not the key of G or C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
Furthermore, when it goes to the D chord it plays a D triad located
at the 5th and 7th frets instead of thirds.
Have I sufficiently muddied the waters?
The TG Blog
We have been announcing all the new songs on the Blog all week,
along with a couple of other news items, such as
September 1st, 2009- New Ukulele Forum
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but after we published the short
ukulele lesson on Over The Rainbow and What A Wonderful World last
week, interest in the instrument has picked up. We have have added
a new Totally Guitars Forum for more discussions along these lines.
Check it out when you can- Calling All Ukulele Players. We will
also be adding a few more ukulele lessons over the next few weeks.
September 3rd, 2009- Introducing: The Campfire Versions
I want to tell you about a new approach to some songs. There are a
lot of songs that either are pretty simple or can be easily
modified and be considered Campfire Songs. I use that term loosely
to mean songs that you can just strum, almost anyway you like, and
sing along with, possibly with an army of guitar players, much like
you would around a campfire.
We are rolling out a whole bunch of tunes in this manner over the
next couple of weeks. These will be mostly free, short lessons
(around 10 minutes each), that give you enough of the vital details
to play the song. They will usually include a chart of the chords
and lyrics, generally no TAB.
This will give me a chance to teach some songs that I probably
otherwise wouldn't get to as they may not teach anything new or be
complex enough to warrant a more detailed lesson. It will also
allow me to look at some newer stuff. The 1st batch is still 70s
oriented but there are some big surprises just around the corner.
Be sure to let me know what you think (not that anybody needs to be
reminded of that!).
To get to the blog click here www.totallyguitars.com/blog
Stay tuned & in touch,
P.S. - Feel free to get back to me on the blog and on the forum to
let me know what else YOU would like to see in this weekly
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