By: Dr. Matt Warnock
Much to the chagrin and in the face of steep opposition from many teachers across the globe, guitar education has finally decided to join the digital, online world and fully embrace the role that the internet can play in teaching and learning guitar. While the technology doesn’t yet exist to fully replace the experience of a one on one lesson in the same room as a real, live person, websites such as Guitar Masterclass come really close to mimicking that experience, as well as providing supplemental material that goes beyond the in-person experience.
The site offers lessons on licks, technique, lessons in the style of certain players such as Greg Howe, ZZ Top and Slash, full song transcriptions and much more. Each lesson is taught by video, with accompanying tab and text description to help players of all levels digest the material in front of them. As well, the videos are presented as a whole, say a Dorian solo, then broken down into the individual licks that make up that solo, all presented at varying tempos.
If that’s not enough, the media player contains a metronome for further practice, as well as play-along tracks that can be used at different tempos, and even looped for those longer practice jams. By including these extras with each lesson, as well as a very cool notepad to save notes on, GMC is providing a one-stop learning experience for guitarists of any background or level of experience.
There is also a big sense of community on the site, especially on the forum, where players can meet and talk about what they’re working, their favorite lessons and players, or just chat about their favorite instrument, the guitar. The site comes with two levels of integration, the free material and the material that is offered to subscribers at a small fee. Both offer enough material to keep any guitarist busy, but of course one gets much more if they decide to subscribe to the full site.
For the price of a 30 minute lesson, members have access to enough material, with solid, easy to understand videos, to last them a lifetime. It would take years, if not decades, to even skim the surface of all the material that is currently on the site, with many new videos being added all the time. So check out GMC, but be warned, if you love guitar and are looking for new material to work on, once you get on the site, it’ll be very hard to leave.
Guitar International recently sat down with Guitar Masterclass owner Kristofer Dahl to talk about his site, the lessons they offer and where he takes things from here.
Matt Warnock: What was the initial inspiration behind launching the Guitar Masterclass website?
Kristofer Dahl: I first discovered the possibilities of a site like this after uploading and sharing my personal music and videos on the web. Seeing the response I was getting from viewers led to me developing the GMC site, though my original intention was not to create a commercial site.
As I continued to move forward, I realized that it cost a lot of money to develop things on the web, and I wanted to create cooler and cooler things, so that’s why I looked at the possibilities of charging a small fee for some of the content in order to keep the site growing and moving forwrad.
Matt: What makes GMC different from other guitar lesson sites on the web?
Kristofer: I’d say that the biggest difference between GMC and other sites on the web is the community. There are similar sites, but we’re community driven in a whole different way.
You’ll find that all the people producing lessons and being active on the site are also interested in the forum. We have active instructors, members, management all involved interacting with our online community on a daily basis.
Matt: What genres of music do you focus on with GMC?
Kristofer: We try to cover everything. Our strongest genres are Rock guitar lessons, Metal guitar lessons and Shred guitar lessons. We’re currently adding a large amount of Blues guitar lessons, Jazz guitar lessons and even Country guitar lessons for our members who enjoy those styles as well. We also have some more obscure styles, such as Flamenco guitar lessons, Latin, and Caribbean for people who want to expand in those musical directions.
Matt: What do you offer for free and what do people get when they sign up for the site that they can’t get for free?
Kristofer: I wanted to have the day to day excitement for everybody, so that’s why we choose to have free parts in every new lesson that we publish. When you pay, you get full access to the lessons. When you don’t pay, you get limited access to the lessons and you get to learn new things every day for free.
As a paying customer you have access to the community, forum, competitions, Virtual Bands, and the Recognition Program, which is a place to present your skills to respected guitarists and get feedback on your playing.
Matt: What types of masterclasses do you offer on GMC? Can people learn techniques, songs, licks or all of the above?
Kristofer: From personal experience, the most important aspect to learning is to watch someone do something correctly. If you have the ability to do that, and then slow down the music, really absorb the techniques, that’ll give you a whole lot more than reading a tutorial on how to do the same thing.
If you live in a small town and there isn’t an instructor who can teach you Acoustic guitar lessons or Beginner guitar lessons, then you’ll have to learn them from theory and written tutorials. Here at GMC, you can actually watch and learn how true guitar masters do it which is much more effective.
Matt: Do you find that most of the people visiting your site come from one country or region, or do people come to GMC from across the globe?
Kristofer: We are global but we have a higher percentage of members from Europe and the United States.
Matt: You’re currently looking for more guitarists to teach on the site, how do people go about applying for these positions?
Kristofer: You must submit a video that contains both musical and instructional content which is relevant to GMC today. So spend some time checking out the site before you submit anything. If we like your video we’ll get a hold of you from there to move forward.
Matt: Now that the site is gaining traction and taking off, what new ideas and projects do you have planned for the coming year?
Kristofer: Way to many. [Laughs] No but seriously, we have so many projects going at once, which results in a slower production time for what we’ve got in the works. Currently we’re working on a Scale Generator, iPhone App, more Community Features, more personal assistance, more in depth tutorials, lick of the days, and many more we can’t reveal just yet. You’ll just have to keep monitoring the site to find out more!