Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Worship Guitar




Available in English or Spanish, Worship Guitar Class DVDs offer students aged 10 and older guitar lessons in the home taught by Jean Welles, of Los Angeles, CA, professional guitarist and teacher for over 30 years. A student of the guitar herself, Welles holds a Master's degree in Guitar Performance from USC.

"One of the reasons I came to Christ is because at that time I didn't see a purpose in life. Now I have a purpose. It's to enjoy God and to help others know how great HE is!", states Welles in a letter provided with the Worship Guitar Class DVD.

I received Worship Guitar Class DVD-Volume 1 and separate student music book as a
member of TOS Review Crew to use in our homeschool in exchange for this review. According to literature provided with the DVD, Volume 1 promises:

  • Step by Step Instruction
  • The ability to learn to play the guitar at home
  • Easy enough for 1st day beginner to beginner/intermediate students
  • Instruction regarding creating a personal worship time
  • Instruction for learning to lead worship in a small group setting

Volume 1 consists of 7 lessons each designed to teach one worship song per lesson and the ability to master a dozen chords. Several strumming and picking patterns are presented in the lessons. Songs taught throughout volume one include:

  • He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
  • My All in All
  • More Precious than Silver
  • Take My Life
  • Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
  • This is the Day
  • I Love you Lord
Retailing for $24.95, Volume 1 is part of a 4 Volume set which can be purchased at the Worship Guitar Class website for $99.80. Once on the website, www.worshipguitarclass.com, I noted the student book included in each volume is also available for separate purchase for $5.95. When purchasing the 4 volume set, customers receive a $40.00 value bonus of 4 e-books titled:

  • Tips, Tricks & Exercises for Great Guitar Technique
  • Favorite Hymns For Guitar
  • 200 Chord Charts and Pictures and Much More
  • Chord Charts with Pictures for 5 Major Keys and How to Use This Guide Book
Welles offers a DVD course for the younger set, "Worship Guitar for Kids" designed for students ages 5-9. In addition to the DVD courses, customers will find guitars, gig bags, guitar stands, music stands, assorted guitar instructional books for further study, piano and drum curriculum and vocal CD's at the Worship Guitar Class website.

I was anxious to see Worship Guitar Class DVD in action based on my experience with children and music lessons. I grew up learning to play the piano, trumpet and french horn and have always valued the importance of music instruction in a child's education. When my older children were younger we were fortunate enough to find quality music lessons for them locally. They took piano, violin, voice and guitar lessons over several years, but unfortunately, great teachers seemed to move on to bigger and better opportunities. My younger children have missed individualized music instruction to date and thinking I could have a guitar instructor in our home at my disposal was a wonderful one.

I assigned my 12 year old daughter, Micah to the task of helping me with this review and she attempted the lessons with no previous guitar experience. We don't own an acoustic guitar, but she blew the dust off of her older brother's electric guitar, hooked it up to the amp and put the DVD in the player. I sat down beside her to watch the process and see if the DVD truly offered, "step by step instructions" simple enough to follow.

Jean Welles presents a professional demeanor and the set and video quality are of high standards pleasing to watch. Unfortunately, we found the instruction to move very quickly making Micah extremely frustrated even to tears within the first lesson.

The first lesson included specific instruction regarding proper holding technique of the guitar and two chords, A and E7. Students learn specific placement of fingers on strings in order to properly strum the chords both with visual demonstration and the use of a giant chord chart which Welles uses in her explanations. Micah had trouble from the beginning determining why her chords lacked musical quality when she played. Because I have no guitar experience, and Micah's hands might not have been placed exactly where they should have been, I could not help her with her frustration in finding just the right finger placement. We paused the DVD, repeated over and over the specific portion explaining the finger placement, but very quickly, Micah was frustrated and in tears over her lack of accomplishment.

I reminded Micah that "Rome wasn't built in a Day" and music like all great things takes lots of patience and practice for mastery. We wiped the tears and returned to the lesson with greater fortitude. Once Welles demonstrated finger placement of the two chords for lesson one she combined the chords to play the first song taught, "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands". I wanted to build a campfire when I heard the wonderful familiar and simple worship song, but instead of inspiring Micah this section of the DVD made her want to throw the guitar into the fire. Unfortunately, Welles, didn't explain verbally when to change chords while playing rather the instruction was provided through a close camera shot of Welles' hands strumming the guitar, making use of the chords A and E7. For a new student like Micah unfamiliar with the guitar and its elements this simplistic visual only instruction was very confusing.

"For the first lesson it would have been nice if she slowed down a little bit, just because I'm a beginner. I think something that should be added is explanation of which chords to do when she sings the songs, so you can play and sing along with her," said Micah.

I encouraged Micah to spend a week or so practicing chords A and E7 and become more familiar with holding the guitar before deciding to move on with the DVD lessons. After she practiced those skills, she decided to attempt lesson two of the video and felt much more positive about the experience.

"The second lesson was a little bit easier because I knew which fret to do and which string", she said.

When I asked Micah for a recommendation she added, "I think it would be easier to have a real instructor, but I still think I can learn a lot from this too. I think I'll keep up with the lessons and see how it goes."

A sample of lesson one of Volume 1 is available at www.worshipguitarclass.com/brochure. Customers can sign up for a free newsletter on the website and Jean writes a blog that offers tips and lessons to encourage students at www.jeanwelles.com. For more information regarding Worship Guitar Class visit the company website at, www.worshipguitarclass.com.