Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jean Welles Worship Guitar, a TOS Crew Review

I received The Jean Welles Worship Guitar Class, Volume One (English & Spanish) DVD and booklet (actually two booklets, one full size and one that fits inside the DVD case) with all the music, free, to review for you as part of TOS Homeschool Crew of reviewers.

Welles is highly qualified; she has a Master's in Guitar Performance from USC. Volume One offers seven lessons that teach seven (one song per lesson) well-known worship songs:

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand
My All in All
More Precious Than Silver
Take My Life
Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
This is the Day
I Love You Lord

Students use these chords in the songs

A & E7
A & E7
A D G
A D G
C D G
A7 D G
A A7 D Em D9/F# G

We have a couple of child-sized First Act guitars (not the best instrument from what I understand) that we've never learned to play. My middle schooler began playing the trumpet a year-and-a-half ago and within a couple of months moved up to the french horn. She's my musical princess. ;) She understands more about music than anyone in our family, with me being the distant second (handbell choir is my big experience with music) and I sat her down with me to try out the video lesson.

My daughter and I are both right-handed. So is Welles. I notice that there are some instructions in the back of the full-size book for lefties.

I sat with her as we began to try to tune the guitar. Our little guitar sounded pitiful. It needed a lot of help. Welles does not show the viewer how to tighten the strings and we needed a few minutes to figure out which gizmo loosens and tightens which string. My daughter was frustrated because Welles didn't demonstrate how to strum the strings. Welles appeared to be using a rigid thumbnail; my daughter's nails are quite short. We paused the video and found a pick.

I don't know how a new student could use the video alone. My daughter needed a "helper" (*me*) to run the DVD for her, stopping it, backing it up, as we tightened the strings to tune the guitar to match the sounds Welles produced for us on the DVD. and again when Welles demonstrated the finger position for the two chords in the first song. I I had not been there to operate the DVD player, my daughter would have had to let go of the carefully found finger positioning and refind it every time she let go of the guitar to back-up the DVD to the right place. We backed up quite a few times. I think that either of us would have quit in frustration had we been trying to learn alone, without someone to re-cue the DVD to the parts we needed to see and hear again. My daughter and I would have liked more examples with slower pacing so that we wouldn't have had to pause, go backwards to find the right spot, and see a demonstation again (and again) (and again). A sample excerpt from the first lesson is available on THIS web page.

Having done that, we (okay, SHE) had quick success with the A and E7 chords, and we turned the DVD off while my daughter practiced shifting between the two chords so that, eventually, she could try to play, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands". Once she got the guitar pick and had the hang of the chords (just a few minutes), her confidence rose, the frustration dimmed, and she moved forward, and she actually wanted to learn more. The second song uses the same two chords. My musical princess began to use the booklet more (with the DVD in pause) -- she says the booklet is a big help. When she tried to play the song with Welles on the DVD, my daughter wanted to go more slowly.

Perhaps if an individual is familiar with the finger positions for some basic guitar chords, the video moves at a good pace. However, if you are a real beginner, I recommend that you have someone "man" the DVD to back it up and replay the parts you need to see again so that you don't have to lose and refind the finger positions every time you need to re-watch a segment.

I want to stop and spotlight the fact that we like this DVD. I'd want a reviewer to tell me about the frustrations before I ordered a DVD, so that's why I included that experience in the review. HOWever, with two of us working together, we got the guitar tuned and my daughter learned two chords and one song (while stopping the lesson to look for a guitar pick) in less than an hour. And she wanted to keep going (and she did keep going).

This DVD is priced at $24.95. The full-size book is $5.95. You need the full-size book. The book that comes inside the DVD case is quite small. The set of four (Volumes 1, 2, 3, & 4) is priced at $99.80 and you can add the four full-size books, bringing the cost of four DVDs and four books to $119.80.

Music lessons are expensive. Music lessons at one of the nearby music stores are $96 per half-hour for the french horn (that's what lessons cost a year ago when I called to price them, anyway). My opinion is that $25 is a reasonable, even extremely low, price to pay for an introduction to the guitar and seven lessons. I believe that having some musical experience is a plus for a beginner guitar student. The DVD lessons may be one way to work through frustration and build resilience in some students while learning a musical instrument at the same time. There's an element of cooperation, co-ordination, co-regulation involved as one student plays while a helper manages the DVD.

I think, despite our beginning frustrations, this is an inexpensive, no-appointment necessary, no-need-to-leave-the-house, do-it-on-your-own-schedule, way to try out a new instrument and master a recognizable song or two very quickly. Who knows -- if you try this DVD with a so-so guitar, you may, like us, find yourselves considering the purchase of a "real" guitar and more lessons. (Welles offers tips for folks like us who are considering the purchase of a used guitar on the web site. See question 4 near the bottom of this page.)

I would not start my homeschooler on this video. With the fine motor challenges see on the autism spectrum, she'd probably need to begin with the class for younger children, which I understand uses one-finger chords.

If you're interested in music lessons, spend some time on the web site. Worship Guitar Class dot com has a lot to offer, including an e-newsletter, Christian guitar, drums, piano and voice lessons. There are many testimonials and samples on the web site. (I may have to look at the lessons for drums. My homeschooler w/ asd is showing some interest in the drums at music therapy.)

Some of the Crew received a version for younger children. To read the reviews of my Crewmates, go HERE.

1 comment:

Tony and Julee Huy said...

My 10 year old took a couple of electric guitar lessons a while back. I wonder if this would work for him.

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