Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: Worship Guitar

This is probably going to be one of the hardest reviews I have to write.  When I joined the Crew, my commitment to myself was that I was going to truly, thoroughly try out everything that was sent to me.  So far, we have done that.

But then Worship Guitar arrived.  I tried to find a guitar to borrow.  I looked into renting one.  I tried to figure out a way to swing the purchase of a guitar.  We remained guitar-less.  I failed.

So, just so you know, this review is based on watching the entire DVD (okay, I didn't watch all of the Spanish version) but NOT on actually trying to do what was taught on an actual guitar.
Jean Welles of Worship Guitar has put together a video curriculum to teach you how to play the guitar "effortlessly."  This is intended for adults and kids 10 and up.  My 9, 11 and 12 year olds watched the first couple of lessons with me, and I do think all three of them could use it to some extent (the 9 year old would need a bit more help from me!)

What I got:  A DVD (Volume 1), containing seven lessons and some introductory material (like how to tune a guitar).  All of the material is presented in English and in Spanish.  I love, love, love that feature.  I think it would be amazing (and I do plan to do this, eventually) to work through the English lessons first.  And *then* go through the ones in Spanish, learning the Spanish words to the songs as well.

Each lesson is basically in the same format.  You learn how to play a new chord or chords (no new chords in Lesson 4 but four new chords in Lesson 5).  She gives some tips about various things, like keeping your nails clipped.  She teaches a new strumming pattern in half of the lessons (starting with lesson 2).  And she plays and sings the new song for that lesson, once with straight strumming (just playing the chords), and again with the most recent strumming pattern.

A booklet:  this comes with the DVD and it includes the very basic info, in both English and Spanish.  Looking at Lesson 2 (in English), it includes the lyrics for "My All in All" written with the chord names above it.  It shows a little diagram of the new chord (D), and a little description of the new strumming pattern.  And it includes a box listing Alternate Basses.  In the back half of the booklet is the same page in Spanish, so you have the Spanish lyrics too (I know I'd never figure it out just by watching/listening... I need to see the words too.)

A book:  this is a separate purchase, and is packed with great stuff too.  The book includes notes on most everything that is said in the video, and it includes the music for all seven songs.  It shows how to read the chords, and it has the new strumming patterns diagrammed out for you also.  I cannot imagine using this course without the book, but mostly because I need to see the music.  At least at this point.  The book also includes an extra lesson, which you can view on the web, that is a Left-Hand Exercise.  This is for practice, there is no corresponding song.

Continuing to use lesson 2 as my example, the book includes some notes about the new chord, and the diagram.  It includes the music, with little chord charts instead of just the chord name.  There is a description of the whole "bass" thing, which was helpful.  The new strumming pattern is not just diagrammed, but also explained.  And there is a note explaining the 'rest' symbol in the music.

My opinion:  Guitar has always totally intimidated me.  The few attempts I ever made at learning guitar consisted of people who played well, but couldn't break it down into really basic, easy steps.  Having played piano and viola (and teaching myself cello and violin), I was used to reading real music, and the stuff with just lyrics and letters made NO SENSE to me at all, especially since nobody ever started me off with "just" playing the chords themselves. (Everyone was starting with strumming patterns, though it was never phrased that way... I would have been able to at least grasp that I was playing a chord one note at a time had anyone explained it to me.)

This course is different.  The first song uses only two chords.  It's familiar ("He's Got the Whole World in His Hands") and very straightforward.  She doesn't introduce anything complicated at all in the first lesson.

The second lesson isn't much harder.  You learn a third chord.  You learn a strumming pattern.  She explains it well.  She plays the song with "just" chords, so you can work on that before trying to get any fancier.  She also plays the song with the strumming pattern.  While you can't just go to a specific part of the lesson, it is pretty easy to figure out how to break it down, as she spells it out pretty clearly.
  1. Practice the new chord.
  2. Practice changing chords.
  3. Practice the song with straight strumming.
  4. Practice the song with the Thumb Strum.
The rest of the lessons have similar patterns.

Even without having a guitar to use, I learned a lot.  I finally understand how to read guitar music.  And I understand how straightforward it can be to make a song more interesting to listen to (the strumming patterns).

One way or another, I am going to get a guitar.  Hopefully I can get my kids interested in learning too, but I'll learn for just me too.  And I'll most certainly look for the rest of the Worship Guitar series after I work through this first one.  Because if I learn to play guitar, this is exactly what I want to be able to do.  Play songs like "I Love You, Lord" as part of our morning routine, with all of us singing together.  Or even pulling out a guitar to play around the campfire with my family.

There are a total of four Volumes in this series, which would translate to 28 worship songs.  In addition, she makes a kids' series for 5-9 year olds (other Crew members reviewed this, and I can't wait to read what they have to say!) and has other guitar products too, like a Christmas volume.

The DVDs are $24.95 each, with bonus ebooks included if you get all four.  The books are $5.95 each.  These come with a one year money-back guarantee.  The purchase page is here.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Worship Guitar -- both the product I reviewed, and the program for younger kids at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free DVD and book from Worship Guitar.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Lori Watson said...

I had to review it without actually using it as well. Your review is much more thorough, I admit. Great job!

Even if we were unable to use the product ourselves, maybe those looking for something along these lines will be helped by just being made aware it even exists. :-D

Debra said...

Lori -- thanks :)

And yeah, hopefully someone will be helped by this. At least they can follow the link to read opinions from reviewers who did actually use it.