Lesson 1 - First thing is first

                                                        First things first

  Hello, I'm Kevin West and this is my first blog. I know a little about a lot of things and a lot about a few. The one thing I think I know best is playing guitar. I am not saying I'm a bad ass or even special in any way. I'm just a guy who has been playing guitar for almost thirty years and trying to do it for a living for about fifteen. The one thing I know now is that I wish I knew a lot more back then. From when I first started playing for about ten years I wasted time strumming a little here and there picking up little pieces of songs or guitar solos even writing songs but never really learning anything about the instrument. In my mind I thought even basic music fundamentals were too complicated for me. I also used the classic excuse “If I learn theory it will change my style” which is LAME. When I did take lessons it seemed like every guitar teacher I had always made it out to be so difficult. Most times I felt more like an audience than a student.

   I moved to Charleston, SC and everything changed. I met some great people who liked nothing more than to sit around, play guitar and sing. So before I knew it I was out playing and singing in bars. After a few years I started to feel the heat. The level of musicianship and creativity in the Charleston SC area was high. So I only wanted to get better. I knew to do this I would have to learn to play for real. So I enrolled at the “College Of Charleston, SC”. I only attended for two semesters but it was a crash course in music. I had no desire to get a degree so I took only music classes. My schedule included music fundamentals one and two, jazz guitar, jazz repertoire, jazz ensemble and jazz theory. It was confusing and a lot to take in all at one time (I am still sorting through the info I acquired while a student). It was like starting from scratch. But you got to start somewhere.  

  So here I am years later still trying to grow as an artist and as a musician. My intention for this “Blog” is to provide a free from scratch learning resource for beginner to intermediate guitar players. I'm not here to teach songs you might want to learn. There are plenty of tableture sites for that. I am trying to teach you to play your own music. I’ll be covering everything from terminology of the instrument to basic theory and technique even songwriting. I am just trying to put out some basic information that I wish I’d have known a long time ago.

  First things first, you’ll need a guitar. I assume if you’re reading this you have one. But if not, acoustic or electric, whatever you’re comfortable with is good.  An acoustic is easier to travel with because you don’t need an amp. Alverez, Yamaha and Ibenez all make quality acoustic guitars that are affordable. For electric beginners the Fender Squire amp combo is a good value. You will also need a guitar tuner and a metronome. A metronome is a device that keeps tempo for you with a click. I know everyone likes to think that they have a natural sense of rhythm and to a degree that’s true.  But perfect rhythm is like perfect pitch. It can be taught but very few are born with it. So, the Metronome and the tuner are very important. You can often find a Tuner/Metronome in one unit. You will also need guitar picks. I recommend using heavier picks. They are less likely to break and in my opinion are more accurate.  I would recommend using locally owned and operated music stores to help your community economy (Until Guitar Center pays me to say otherwise, LOL). In Charleston, SC I go to Mt. Pleasant Music 918 Lansing Drive Unit F Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464-4381

  First off, there are ONLY TWELVE NOTES. That’s right, in all the music in all the history of the world there are only twelve notes (Unless you’re out of tune;). A, A#(Bb), B, C, C#(Db), D, D#(Eb), E, F, F#(Gb), G, G#(Ab). The # sign mean Sharp and the lower case b means flat. The sharp note such as A# can also be referred to as the flat note in parentheses next to it (Bb). They are the same note. Notice there is no #/b between B & C and E & F.



   I hope this is helpful. Each week I’ll be posting free lessons and information that I feel can be useful to learning guitar players and song writers. I’ll also be suggesting different music and other resources I think are useful. For now search youtube and you will find a lot of great music instruction. Practice! Practice! Practice!

   One more important thing I’d like to say is RESPECT THE CRAFT! Anyone who is brave enough to put themselves out there as an artist especially as an independent artist deserves respect. If you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s no good. We’re all in this together. Support the creative community:)

   Thanks for taking the time to read this, Kevin West

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