COOL APP ALERT: Coach Guitar

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If there’s one thing I learned when I was teaching guitar, it was that everybody learns differently. I had some students who needed to see things written down before they could internalise it. I had some who couldn’t get a grasp on tablature, and others who couldn’t quite tell the difference between a quarter note and an eighth note on the page. But interestingly, I found that some of the students who really took off with their playing were the ones who were able to turn off the ‘numbers and notes’ side of playing and to instead focus on the patterns, shapes, lines and contours created by the notes on the fretboard. That seems to be the same approach taken by the iPhone and iPad app Coach Guitar, which strips guitar down to its most basic element of ‘put your finger here and play the notes in time.’ You can check the app out here for free, and get four free guitar lessons (“Stairway To Heaven,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Beat It” and “Stand By Me.”

Other lessons in the library include Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” Passenger’s “Let Her Go” and plenty more. “We show you how to play popular songs without music theory,” the company says, “The easy way to learn to play guitar without guitar tabs information.” When you fire up the app, the black fretboard represents your guitar, and the coloured dots represent your fingers. The dots show you where to put your fingers and which strings to strum. There are left-handed or right-handed views, you can slow down and loop the lesson videos, and there are guitar tabs included too, if you wish to use them.

What I like about this system is that it’s easy to grasp for beginners but it also speaks to how I like to learn these days, which is different to how I studied when I was first starting out. I find that as my playing became more advanced (and I’ve been playing since I was 8), I gradually stopped thinking in note names or fret positions, and instead think in terms of note intervals. Through Coach Guitar’s method the intervals are easily visible right there on the screen, and this would be a great step for players looking to break out of a rut and work on their ear training.

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