Casey Garland's "Broken Neck" Travelin' Guitar Clinic (Western Washington)  3 Hours - $75.

 My name is Casey Garland and I’m a professional guide. I’m your guide to understanding the guitar. Most guitar teachers dole out information and practice exercises a little bit at a time, carrying you, ever so slowly, toward skills development. Guitar teachers are necessary in helping people one on one, particularly in the beginning and when it comes to a certain style or genre of music. I prefer to call myself a guide though, because I’ve developed a method of guiding you toward your destination that provides a solid fundamental ‘picture’ of the guitar neck. From this baseline of understanding you can make rapid discoveries and progress quickly along the path to competence, regardless of the style or genre of music you wish to play.

If you’re satisfied playing songs for yourself, doing sing-a-longs around the campfire or performing at the level you’re currently at - you don’t need what I have to offer. If however you’re interested in learning to express yourself on guitar, play freely, and really be able to jam, improvise and become ‘one with the guitar’, then I can help you. 

We’ve all seen people who can really play the guitar – they make it look so easy! They play up and down the neck of the guitar and half the time they don’t even have to look at it! Somehow they just ‘feel’ it and it sounds so good. Oh, how you wish you could play like that! Well, I’m here to tell you that you can, and in a way that can make it happen a lot faster than conventional methods of learning. Now I didn’t say it would be easy or that you won’t have to try just as hard, I said it can be a faster way to learn and ultimately a better, more diverse and well-rounded approach.  Before we get to my offering though, here’s a bit of “Tough Love” from your guide.  

Guitar players are not born with some innate ‘on board’ skill set. They had to learn it, just like any other task requiring fine motor skills. That Guitar Guru you see up on the stage, freely playing away and putting ‘da love’ on it, has probably played that song at least 100 times after having been a recluse, practicing their brains and fingers out for a very long time. 

What separates the ‘men from the boys’ when it comes to actual playing ability? Most people think it has something to do with “Talent”. However, as most skilled players would agree, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, darned near anyone can learn to become utilitarian or competent on a musical instrument. What makes a player solid, good or great is how much ‘soul’ or ‘feeling’ they can put into their playing, regardless of style or genre.

There are millions of guitar enthusiasts out there, at all levels of ability, enjoying the guitar. There are also millions of guitars just sitting in closets and not being played! People who really ‘got the bug’ to play guitar, either learned, or will eventually learn, because they have such an intense desire to do so. Beyond desire though, becoming a good player requires correct information and productive practice habits.  

The different levels of guitar playing ability are like an endless set of stairs and plateaus leading up to heaven. Beginners are at the bottom and Guitar Gurus nearer the top. Everybody else is somewhere in between.    

There are endless reasons (excuses) why the typical person has trouble learning to play the guitar. The two biggest reasons that learning is so challenging are:


1.  They don’t understand it or see the big picture.

2.  They don’t know how to practice correctly to acquire their skill set.
 

Let’s take a look at that first statement and compare it to other realities in life. Any complicated job or occupation that requires some physically dexterous motor skill, also requires UNDERSTANDING as part of the process. Often this means a mountain of studying, reading, paperwork, seminars, testing and training before your employer will turn you loose on the job. Here’s a simple example. Want to become a massage therapist? Great, you go to school, pay 4 or 5 thousand bucks, learn all the names of the muscles, tendons and how they relate to each other and their functions. Combine that with the actual touch (read: “feel”) application, and over time you can become what you desire to perform. 

To frame it another way, let me ask you a question. Would you expect to learn how to fly an airplane by jumping into the cockpit, engine running and head out on to the runway? Of course not! In order to fly safely and correctly, you need adequate and accurate INFORMATION upon which to act. Then you need time in real practice in order to gain the experience necessary to competently fly the airplane.  

What’s so different about playing guitar? This is how it typically goes: You get inspired, you buy a guitar, get a basic instructional book, maybe some song books with chord pictures above the lyrics and you’re on your way - stumbling forward without a real learning strategy. You learn bits from your friends and take a few lessons here and there, learn how to strum in time, maybe buy some videos or a program off the internet and start your journey, sailing your ship without a rudder into a vast sea of knowledge. More serious pickers will budget in the cost of lessons, which is good, but can very quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Whether or not these actually make you a better player of course depends primarily upon you and to some extent, your instructor(s). 

Regardless of the enormous capacity of the guitar to make a large variety of music, one thing remains the same: It’s still ‘just a guitar.’ One could, in a manner of speaking, loosely compare a guitar to a typewriter or computer keyboard. Hey, it’s just a keyboard, right? There’s no shortage of people who know how to type. You can type anything you want on it and in any style, but it’s still just a keyboard. Granted, the guitar neck is potentially a very complicated ‘keyboard’, but it’s still just a keyboard (read: guitar neck) and you can type/play/create any genre or style of music you desire upon it.  

Sooner or later we all reach plateaus in our knowledge and skill, particularly if we are only learning in one style or genre. We stare at this maze of frets, dots and strings basically lost and not being able to understand this complicated instrument. That’s typically when the guitar goes into the closet or we just settle for less than we know can be achieved. Many stay on this plateau for a lifetime and others seek out more lessons, instruction and understanding.  

Most of us get stuck in a rut because we don’t understand how the chords and scales are inherently laid out upon the neck of the guitar and how they relate to each other. We can’t see through the maze of information to 'see the skeleton'. Sure, we can play memorized stuff pretty good, but we can’t seem to look down through this vast and murky sea of information and make any sense of it. Yet that is exactly what is needed in order to grow in our playing ability.  

Rather than giving up or staying stuck on a plateau, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense then, to focus your fabulous mind upon the neck of the guitar and get a good mental picture of the guitar neck layout, so you could 'see and understand' what that fixed grid of the guitar neck, really looks like? If you had some fundamental understanding of this knowledge, surely you could then go about learning to interact with it and study it at greater depth.  Most mistakenly perceive it’s too complicated for them to pursue and others are too lazy and intimidated to try to understand it.  

What if I told you there actually is a way to ‘see the skeleton’ and get a good mental snapshot of the guitar neck and it’s associated scales and chords? Well, believe it or not, it’s true. This mental understanding of the layout of chords and scales upon the guitar neck actually serves as the ‘golden key’ or ‘essential foundation’ of all your future knowledge and learning. You can jump start your physical playing ability big-time, if you know what the heck you’re looking at. The difference between you and the Guitar Gurus is they know this stuff and you don’t. True, they may be better typist on their keyboard than you, but really, the truth is: - they have trained themselves to be musicians in their minds, as well as their fingers.  

Most people out there playing guitar today have never taken even the simplest musical theory course, - hey, that’s for college students, or smart people right? Wrong, it’s for you, the person that wants to really learn to play guitar. In fact, it is essential if you want to play what you feel. Fortunately, it’s actually very easy to comprehend if delivered by the right guide.  

Just as lawyers speak in legal terms and doctors speak in medical terms, musicians speak in musical terms. Here are some basic musical ‘terms’ that every aspiring guitar student and player should know: note or tone, interval, chord, half step, whole step, octave, relative minor and key. Yes, there are many more terms, but these are some basics. Are there any terms here that you do not understand? Do you know how to construct a maj7 chord? What does a ‘key’ mean? If you don’t know what playing in a key means or some of the other terms mentioned above; WHY THE HECK DON'T YOU KNOW?! These terms are fundamental to understanding music and the playing of it, on any instrument!  

Ouch! I know that hurts, but hey, it’s the plain truth. No wonder you’re having trouble flying the airplane! If you don’t know this stuff, you may still be an OK memory player, but you’ll have a very long road ahead to be able to learn quickly and play freely, cross into other genres or become a competent guitar player. You’re stuck on a plateau and going nowhere fast. You tried to fly the airplane but thought you could skip the basics. Believe me, you’re not alone in this. I know plenty of people who’ve played for 15 to 30 years who can play memorized material well, but cannot improvise or play along cleanly with other musicians as it is happening. They certainly can’t play what they feel. 

I can’t blame them though, because it’s hard to find good information and a good guide to point the way. I developed the ‘Broken Neck’ Travelin’ Guitar Clinic to help intermediate and advancing players, like you, who really want to improve their understanding of the guitar and subsequently their playing ability. Let me be your guide. The prerequisites for attending this clinic are that you must be an intermediate player capable of strumming or picking in time, know the basic chords and be playing some barre chords.  

Guitar lessons these days cost anywhere from $40.00 to $60. per hour. That’s fair, but it can take you a very long time to achieve the level of understanding and insight that I can offer you – and guarantee you’ll understand – in just 3 hours. The cost of the clinic is $75. per person. That’s $25. per hour and anyway you slice it, that’s dirt cheap for some very valuable information. Make no mistake, this information is what people go to guitar college to learn and easily worth $500. or more. My “Broken Neck” clinic is a great program and everyone will get the epiphany, that “ahhh” moment when the light goes on and the runway is clear for take off.  

What took Guitar Gurus took years to understand I can drop in your lap in 3 hours for just $75. Way cool. How can I do this so inexpensively? I’m a guide, remember? That’s what guides do, we divine the most efficient path through the woods or down the raging river. I’ve spent most of my life doing exactly that. It’s being offered so inexpensively because I conduct the clinic for groups between 3* and 12 people, in your area at a coffee house, community center or in your living room!  Of course there’s a handout to take home that has all the details, but you need to attend the clinic to get the information, presentation and instruction I’ve developed and copyrighted.  

Here’s the short version of what were going to do:
  
1. We’re going to discuss very basic music theory so you can, on paper, construct any major scale and any chord type. ( I see your eyes rolling back in your head ;-) This only takes 1/2 hour.

 2. I’m going show you how the primary chord ‘shapes’ are laid out upon the neck like a skeleton in a sequence and fixed in relationship to each other.

 3. I’ll show you how to move the ‘skeleton’ or grid network to play in any key.

4. We’ll look deep into the skeleton and see how to identify the scale and notes that are contained within the skeleton grid.

 5. We’ll discuss the importance of ear training
 
6.  I’ll show you how to correctly practice everything you’ve learned.    

The benefits of knowing this information should be self-evident. Over time you will gain finger independence and be able to play any chord or scale. Your ear will improve dramatically and you’ll be able to use that in learning new songs and jamming with others. If you’re a songwriter, you’ll learn how to put the right chord forms in your songs that provide the emotional content you wish to express. Anything you learn in the future will be based on the skeleton, because it is the fundamental underlying truth. It's the DNA that allows you to grow your knowledge and skill base.

I’m kind of like Johnny Appleseed, traveling’ around spreading seeds of knowledge that later grow into fruit. I love doing this. I love it when a guy whose being playing for 25 years says to me "Oh my God, I can't believe I wasted 20 years by not knowing this!"

I rely on people and institutions in local communities to help promote and host the clinics. While the benefits to the students are undeniable, I also make sure that hosts also receive compensation for their efforts in recruiting and acquiring suitable locations. If you want to bring the “Broken Neck” clinic to your area, give me shout and we’ll make it happen! 

Casey Garland  broken-neck@riverpeoplemusic.com

 * Individual broken-neck sessions and subsequent ‘Guitar Lessons as needed’ are available in Western Washington.

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