There are any number of good resources for learning to play a musical instrument online and two of the best are Guitarlessons.com and Harmonica4kids.com. Both are oriented towards the absolute beginner and both are totally free.
If you are like me and have a lingering desire to learn to play a musical instrument then you can try your hand at it, online, at your own pace and whenever you find the time.
You won’t be able to learn without an instrument, but at least the lessons won’t cost you a dime.
Now, I don’t think I should have to tell you, you’re going to need an instrument (no, an iPod does not count as a musical instrument). For the purposes of this article, I chose the guitar and the harmonica.
Both are popular choices for a number of reasons are are therefore widely available and portable. Additionally, it also means there are lots of resources for not only learning to play them but for playing lots of popular songs on them as well.
For guitars, example-wise, there is a thing called ‘tablature’ that is almost like a code that simplifies playing the guitar and allows for notation in that code so people don’t have to learn to read actual music but can still learn to make songs sound OK on the guitar. For the real musician, however, nothing will do but to learn to read music and understand how to play. The same can be said for the harmonica and any other instrument, if you think about it. However, the reason I chose the harmonica is because not only are they easy to get, cheap, small, easy to carry and not that hard to learn, but because I know a musician who can make a harmonica sound like an electric guitar and the sound is awfully sweet to my ears. Besides which, it’s a favorite of kids, and parents are forever getting those little plastic ones in party bags so why not have the kids learn for real?
Guitarlessons has a great Beginner Series that will teach you everything you need to know, once you have an ax of your very own. From the different parts of the instrument, to tuning by ear or by electronics, to playing your first chords and songs, Guitarlessons.com has a surprisingly comprehensive and detailed library online of high definition teaching.
The guy in front of the camera is very personable and not grating on the senses, and he teaches each tiny step on the journey with the patience that can only come with not having a live studio audience. The videos are hosted by YouTube, of course, so we have them to thank for that part of it but the talent in the videos and the talent that created and maintains the web presence are to be thanked as well. The site is loaded with guitar goodness and if the drive is there, you can learn almost all you need from them.
Harmonica4Kids is a branch site that is geared toward the younger sect. It does have connections to have the parental units purchase instruments but the lessons online are still free to anyone who has a harmonica or simply wants to pretend they do with great convincing detail.
There are two comic-book-esque pages of tips and advice on how to play the instrument, but the basics are covered on another page. The Songs area is where the kids will have the most fun and the parents will have the most NSAIDs as the kids trill “Mary Had A Little Lamb” over and over again gleefully. It is, however, culture and who knows, they could grow up to be the next leader of an up and coming Blues Traveler re-incarnation. The songs and the pages holding them are set up in colorful, casual ways, with ads along the right hand side of course, but they are easy to navigate and the kids will probably be able to handle most of it themselves, with supervision of course. It’s also connected to the larger site, Harmonicalessons.com, which the older demographic will probably find more to their tastes and while it does have a goodly portion of free content for the beginner, more intermediate and advanced students will not find a zero price tag. The Harmonica4Kids site is, however, totally free.
Just two ways to learn to play a musical instrument, something that could stick with you for a lifetime and bring smiles and other (hopefully happy) emotions to your life as well. And you didn’t think you were going to do anything important with your day. Hard to beat that, for the cost of nothing but an instrument you already bought from somewhere else anyway. Until next time, my friends.