I'll admit, I used to hate those guys in college that would pick up a guitar and start strumming, just to steal the attention of every girl in the room. I'd be carrying on a nice conversation with a cute brunette and suddenly "Name" by the Goo Goo Dolls would start drifting across the student union. It was frustrating and I'd lose my chance at a phone number, but I never got mad enough to just go learn guitar for myself. I tried learning to play the guitar growing up and in 6th grade music class I even mastered "Ode to Joy," but I was an active guy (soccer, camping, martial arts), so guitar lessons just didn't fit into my schedule.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a musical guy: I can read music, sing, and played a number of instruments during my school years including drums, saxophone, sousaphone (a round tuba), and the equivalent of a french horn (mellophone); but the guitar just wasn't for me. I'd pick it up, play an open chord, or just pluck a few strings while I made up lame blues songs about an unsuccessful day of hunting or not getting a job I applied for. The truth is, I was jealous of those long haired, goateed, narcissists. Please don't send me hate-mail about how you've never had a goatee, I realize that's just a stereotype, and that guitar players come in all shapes, sizes, hair lengths, and genders, but the desire to learn to play the guitar has never left me.
When I met Jason, the founder and genius developer behind OnSong, at a February 2013 Startup Weekend event in Lancaster, PA we clicked immediately and he asked me to help him in growing OnSong. At the time I didn't know anything about the app and didn't even own an iPad (I want the Android version just as badly as everyone else!), but I immediately saw how amazing and useful the app was. One of the first, and coolest OnSong features I noticed was that tapping on a chord would reveal the fingerings for multiple instruments like ukulele, bass, piano, but especially guitar. That was my Eureka moment..... I realized that I could learn to play guitar using OnSong!
My strategy is pretty simple:
- Find the easiest songs to play on a guitar with a simple internet search.
- Import them into OnSong.
- Check YouTube or Spotify if unsure of what the song is supposed to sound like.
- Once the song is open in OnSong, click on the chords above the lyrics to display the finger placement chart for guitar.
- Strum the chord over and over again until happy with how it sounds.
- Move on to the next chord in the song and tap it. (Many simple songs are only 2 or 3 chords!)
- Once a feel for the chords needed to play is attained, try to put them together switching back and forth.
- Now put it all together and actually try to play the song.
- Rinse and Repeat with different songs, exploring different chords.
Keep in mind that this method of learning to play guitar will not turn you into Yngwie Malmsteen, but it might get you playing around campfires and in coffee shops with your friends, so you no longer have to sit on the sidelines when some one busts out an impromptu jam session. Are there better or faster ways to learn guitar? Maybe, but if you're reading this blog, you probably already have OnSong and if you're a singer, drummer, or pianists that wants to add guitar to their musician's toolbox, this might just be the easiest way. If you don't have OnSong and you randomly found this blog looking for information on how to play the guitar, you can download it here. It might also be the cheapest way to learn guitar. Check back often, since I'll be posting my "Learn to Play Guitar" journey to this blog, and on youtube.