Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taylor Swift and guitar lessons

I TEACH GUITAR lessons at Second String Music, the store Sheryl and I opened a year ago. Four nights a week, we sit in the back room of the old barber shop and hoot and holler and have more fun than should be allowed.

I don't read music and I don't bother with a lot of theory or minor  diminished chords. Instead, we start with technique and learn the seven major chords and build from there. When my students start getting better than me, and it doesn't take much, I send them on to our legendary teacher Warren Riley or to Lenny down at Vancil Performing Arts Center.

I teach all ages, from 8-year-olds with huge potential to 50-something beginners, to guys and gals that just want to sharpen skills and get some tips and guidance while we play. Cause that's all we do, play.

I'm into improvement and making sure we have fun. Slowly but surely, students will get better at making that transition from the nasty F chord to the G. Hey - it's "Old Time Rock & Roll" with the dreaded G C D arrangement, and we are getting the strum pattern down ... let's party!

I don't have a bad apple in the bunch and they are all unique, with a wide range of skills and abilities. One little girl, 9,  hardly says a word during our lesson, and if I make her smile or stick her tongue out at me, well, we are getting somewhere, for sure.

The girl, Avery, announced about a month ago (actually her mother said it for her) that she wanted to learn a Taylor Swift song called "Love Story." Now. Being a scarred product of 1980s prog and hair band eras, Taylor Swift makes me cringe. Like most of the young stars of the day, she's a product of careful and calculated country music media propaganda. Except she keeps sticking around and keeps cranking out hits, and her live shows sell out. Now she's making perfume commercials and denying that she's in love with Justin Bieber or whatever flavor of the month stud is out there.

And she writes her own songs, plays the guitar, decides what her stage looks like, looks like she's having a blast and living the star life. So I will give her that, however begrudgingly.

I started listening to Love Story so we could do it during Avery's lessons, and the video is awful but the song is ... uh oh. I can't believe I'm saying this. This song is ... is .... GUH. The song is .... catchy. Ouch. It hurt to say so, but it's true.

The song has dynamics. Catchy verse and chorus progression. And, save a key change at the end and that nasty B minor chord that Avery learned in one lesson without blinking her pretty little eyes, it's not that hard to play.

So we are working on it. As usual, I get just as much if not more from giving guitar lessons, and hopefully Avery is having fun. She is threatening to sing the song too, which will really be something because I've only heard her talk twice.

I bet she has the voice of an angel. Better than Taylor Swift, even!

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