Fender Play Taught Me Guitar and Sure, You Can Have My Autograph

Tailored online courses for those who want to learn to shred

September 28, 2017 9:00 am

To say I was a beginner guitar player would be kind.

When I was a sophomore in high school a stoner named Fudd taught me how to play Smoke on the Water in his basement. He then promptly proceeded to hide his guitar from me as soon as I went to the bathroom. And I haven’t picked one up since.

So given the opportunity to potentially take it up with Fender Play — coupled with this quarter-life crisis/Carpe Diem thing I have going on lately — I was stoked.

The rundown on Fender Play: it’s a new-ish guitar lesson web platform and iOS app meant to get newbies playing guitar — and keep ‘em playing guitar — through micro-tutorials. New users can sign up for free, right here for a 30-day trial. After which, it’s $19.99 a month to keep jammin’.

The idea is to keep players engaged, to get them magically playing chords and songs quite swiftly. And I liked this idea, a lot.

So I signed up, I answered a variety of questions about my musical style and taste and — voila! — a video-centric curriculum was prepared just for me.

I should note that I don’t think I’ve ever read any instructions to anything in my life … and so far it’s worked out. I’m pretty sure I have a grasp on Monopoly rules, I learned to drive stick by getting behind the wheel, I can program my Roku just fine and I figured out how to make chocolate souffle by burning four first.

That is, the idea of learning some Stones out of the gates, rather than correct finger placement, was very appealing. Did I have to go back and learn more about tuning, finger placement and chords? Yes, yes I reluctantly did. But a few lessons and a couple of days with the strings written on my hand for memorization and we were back to Satisfaction.

Briefly. Because of life and work and, who knows, a new season of Narcos maybe, I dropped off. But Fender knows all about this. They know about 90 percent of new players give up in the first year. Hence, the Fender Play solution. 

Except, here’s the best part — and the worst part. When I was ready to get back in the saddle, there wasn’t an instructor there that I had to make excuses for to get back in their good graces and start again. There was no judgment and there was no guilt. That’s also the rub. There is no judgment and there is no guilt. Translation: this journey requires self-discipline. After all, that’s why people pay for shmancy gym memberships. At the end of the day, it’s not the eucalyptus towels. There’s a part of the expense, and the guilt it imposes, that’ll get your ass to the gym.

But the more you do, the more you do, as they say.

Nailing down the Stones, to the dismay of my neighbors, got me excited to keep the discipline going. I moved on to some Everclear and a lil’ Yardbirds Heart Full of Soul.

True, it might have taken me two months to pass Level 1. But I have. And I’ve also just moved on to Foo Fighters Learn to Fly and intend to keep going, which I believe was the whole point and quite poetic to boot.

Perhaps there’s hope for me yet to realize that Fenders make more than a decorative addition to a loft. 

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