Learning guitar on the internet

I originally wrote this article as advice on using newsgroups, but it has a wider relevance now with the plethora of social forums that people frequent, such as Facebook and YouTube.

From about 1992 onwards the arrival of the internet made it very easy for people to participate in what was known as "usenet" (see definition below). The newsgroup most relevant to classical guitar would seem to be rec.music.classical.guitar.

Month by month there seem to be fewer and fewer people posting there who were actively engaged in the real world of guitar and music, a trend which could no doubt be confirmed by long term observers.

As of April 2005 I terminated my usage of the group, having concluded that...

  1. The anarchic nature of the medium (no moderating controls), combined with...
  2. the opportunity for misanthropes and sociopaths to flourish, and...
  3. The sycophantic support given to them by other participants

... had made rec.music.classical.guitar more of a watering hole for misanthropes and sociopaths (see definition below) than a place where people could get real information about the craft of guitar playing.

The abusive tactics of the misanthropes and sociopaths had apparently played a large part in driving away participants who - are - actively involved in performance and administration of the performing and teaching community, i.e. the real world community. It became 'not worth their while' to even visit the newsgroup.

Bravo, well done guys, (it seems to be largely a "guy thing").

These misanthropes and sociopaths live in cyber-fantasy worlds which have nothing to do with the world that professional musicians, including performers, studio musicians, luthiers, retailers and teachers, work in. In the real world there are a myriad of social "levelling factors" which discourage and stop virulently anti-social behaviour.

In the music business in particular, despite what the press may serve up about the more heavily marketed sectors of the industry, most of the music business has inherent in it very strong "reality factors". One of the most obvious is the need to produce consistent results in a performing environment. Put more simply, there is a truism in the industry which says "You are only as good as your last gig".

If you blow a gig, it may take years to recover your credibility. No credibility = no work = no career ! Few professions have such ruthless parameters for survival built in to them as the career of the professional musician.

So, be warned, if you venture into the world of online forums have your wits about you and don't expect to find many practicing professionals there.

If you want good advice about a craft or profession, pay real money and see a flesh and blood professional.

The professionals are people who do the difficult job of playing and teaching the instrument - to real audiences. They are people who play to and communicate to the general public with and about music. They are not only worth listening to, but you will find in general that the professionals in music are always willing to share the joy of music, hence their chosen profession.

My advice on using the internet for information on guitar playing is:

Use internet search engines such as www.google.com to locate professionals in your geographic area and them contact them. Many professionals have their own website these days.

Look for the real world evidence of their skills:

  • Performances
  • Videos
  • Recordings
  • Publications
  • Reviews and endorsements by their peers and in professional journals

Good luck !
Peter Inglis