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Lesson Review: Learn & Master Guitar: Expanded Edition by Steve Krenz June 15, 2009

Posted by adziesz in guitar, player.
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Dave Hunter | 06.10.2009

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Amid the books and DVD packages that promise to take you from beginner to intermediate to advanced guitarist, the “complete package” is nothing new. Few instructional courses pull off a comprehensive tutorial like Learn & Master Guitar by Steve Krenz, however, and the newly updated package — Learn & Master Guitar: Expanded Edition (Legacy Learning Systems, list price $249/discounted price $149) — is one of the most thorough multi-media lesson sets available. Having occasionally browsed and sampled other systems that promise to be a one-stop shop for mastery of the instrument, and too often turned away with doubts about the veracity of such claims, a test run through Learn & Master Guitar: Expanded Edition leaves me confident that this package really is capable of taking the non-player all the way from the basic steps of tuning the instrument and fingering notes and chords, to executing advanced songs in a broad range of styles.

The “Lesson Book” included in this package is a useful tool in and of itself, and a motivated learner could go a long way with the book alone. The book is certainly not alone, though, and comes accompanied with 20 instructional DVDs, five Jam Along CDs, and unlimited access to the online support site. Here in the age of YouTube any guitar teacher with a Handycam and a tripod can pull off an instructional DVD. But Steve Krenz — a Nashville-based session guitarist and teacher — is backed by a professional video production and editing team that help to maximize the learning potential of each recorded lesson. Clear shots of left and right-hand positions are supported by on-screen musical notation, while explanatory segments are frequently underscored with notes and addendums to expand the teaching.

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Throughout, I found Krenz’s gentle, low-key style evocative of the kind of “bedside manner” that would really encourage the new player. Rather than pushing to be too cool or overly hip, — Learn & Master Guitar gets right down to the business of teaching you how to play the guitar, through a clear, logical, linear series of “Sessions” (lessons). From the simple necessities of hand position, basic scales and chords, and beginner’s picking techniques; to the intermediate learning of barre chords, blues scales, power chords, and basic fingerpicking; to advanced techniques such as blues bends, country chicken pickin’, and jazz progressions, this set not only takes you a long way down the road as a player, it does so in a smooth, seamless fashion that underlines the relationships between many different playing styles.

In addition to the time-tested abbreviations and short cuts that help so many students become guitar players — tablature, block chord diagrams, and so forth — Krenz’s book and video lessons also take the time to explain the building blocks of music theory, but do so without getting bogged down in the potential stodginess of such efforts. Note values and time keeping, major and minor scales, modes, keys and key signatures, parallel major and minor relationships, and more are all absorbed seamlessly, as the lessons require.

The Jam Along CDs are a real bonus, too, and provide that feeling of “really making music” that can take the effort of learning an instrument out of the dry and academic realm and into the creative. Performed with a full band and mixed with a reference guitar track in the left channel, they allow the learner to follow a correct example of each song exercise in the book then dial out the instructor with their CD player’s balance control to take over the guitar parts themselves.

All in all, it’s an impressive package, and primed to take any wannabe player a long way down the path to success.

For more information on the Learn & Master Guitar course, click here.

For a chance to win your own free copy of the Learn & Master Guitar course, and a beautiful Epiphone Casino hollow body guitar, click here.

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