Orville talks about some challenges you will likely face as a beginner and offers some advice that will help you overcome them.
Taught by Orville Johnson in Beginner Acoustic with Orville seriesLength: 13:05Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Orville explains that the best way to hold the guitar sitting down is with your feet flat on the floor, the guitar rested on your left leg, and your back straight.
When the guitar is rested on the left leg it provides comfortable access for both your left and right hands. When the guitar is rested on the right leg, you need to wrap your body around it. Over time this can cause pain in your back.
Many people begin playing guitar by resting it on their right leg. A footstool under your left foot can be used to remind yourself to rest the guitar on the correct leg, until it comes naturally.Scene 2: Left-Handed
There are left-handed guitars that are strung in the reverse order so that a player’s right hand is on the fingerboard and the left hand is used for strumming. If you are left-handed should you play a left-handed guitar?
Orville says that it shouldn’t matter which style of guitar you learn to play because you need to learn to coordinate both hands anyway. It may even be easier for a left-handed person to learn to play a “regular” guitar. In the beginning stages of learning guitar, most of the focus will be on the left (fretting) hand. A person who is left-hand dominant can have an advantage in mastering fretting techniques.Scene 3: Up & Down
It is important to remember what the terms up, down, top, and bottom mean relative to a guitar. Going “up” on a guitar refers to going up in pitch. “Up” means moving along the neck toward the body and “down” means closer to the head. The “top” string refers to the 1st (highest pitched) string. The bottom string is the 6th (thickest) string.Scene 4: Positioning
When learning to play the guitar you need to master using all four fingers of your left hand. Here is an exercise to help develop this skill.
To begin assign four consecutive frets to each finger (eg. Index – first fret, middle – second fret, ring – third fret, pinky – fourth fret). Start with the 6th string and play the pattern: open (no fingers), index finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinky. Then play the same pattern on the rest of the strings, working your way from the “bottom” to the “top” string. When you play with your pinky on the top string, reverse the pattern so you will play: pinky, ring, middle, index, open. Work your way from the top string to the bottom string.
Change the position of your left hand and the frets you assign to each finger while working on this exercise. Remember to press the string right behind the fret you are playing to get the best tone.
Here is another exercise to help develop left-hand coordination:
Play a similar pattern (open, index, middle, ring, pinky) starting on the first fret of any string. Once you play a note with your pinky, shift up the neck so that your index finger is playing the next highest fret. Continue the pattern until you play the 12th fret with your pinky, then reverse the pattern and play down the string.
These are good exercises to help stretch out your fingers and to begin training yourself to use all of your fingers while playing the guitar.
Discover the essentials with Orville Johnson by learning some of the most popular topics and techniques in beginner guitar.
Orville talks about some challenges you will likely face as a beginner and offers some advice that will help you overcome them.Length: 13:05 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Orville talks about flatpicks, how to hold them, and how to strum with them.Length: 13:29 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Orville Johnson introduces some basic fingerpicking patterns.Length: 6:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson explains why it is important to practice with a metronome. He also covers some practice strategies that will help minimize your frustration.Length: 21:35 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Orville dives into part 1 of his beginners' guide to practical theory. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of intervals.Length: 17:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson takes a look at scales in part 2 of his practical theory mini-series.Length: 18:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson jumps into part 3 of his practical theory mini-series. This lesson is about chords and their construction.Length: 21:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
It's now time to tap back into the practical music theory portion of this series. Continuing on with part 4, Orville now discusses what modes are and how they are really just scales with Greek names.Length: 19:50 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Orville Johnson demonstrates a basic blues shuffle. This incredibly easy rhythm piece will have you sounding like a blues great in no time!Length: 12:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Orville Johnson demonstrates how simple chord progressions can be spruced up with bass runs. The classic song "Oh! Susanna" is used as an example.Length: 12:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Orville Johnson talks about the concept of voice leading. This concept will help you play chord progressions that flow better and sound more harmonious.Length: 10:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson teaches the basic major chords in this lesson. He also explains the best way to change from chord to chord, a challenge for many beginners.Length: 19:23 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Orville Johnson jumps into some light theory with a lesson on note values.Length: 7:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson takes a beginner's look at the CAGED system.Length: 8:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Orville Johnson introduces open D tuning and encourages exploration of its possibilities. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles.Length: 24:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
This time, Orville Johnson introduces open G tuning. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles and sounds pretty without even fingering a chord.Length: 21:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
This lesson is perfect for the beginner looking to develop dexterity and independence in the right hand fingers. Orville guides you step by step through basic rhythm concepts and fingerstyle exercises.Length: 26:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
This lesson presents any beginner with the information needed to understand how a capo works. This tool enables you to change the key of a song without learning any new chord voicings.Length: 22:07 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Orville introduces basic techniques that can be used to play lead guitar. This lesson includes a primer on hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends and harmonics.Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Orville dispenses a lifetime of accrued wisdom on the subject of practicing and learning. This lesson is only 16 minutes long, and it will not only change how you learn the guitar, but can also be applied...Length: 16:38 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
This lesson is all about creating different types of chords. This does steer the lesson towards music theory, but the information is invaluable and infinitely applicable.Length: 23:05 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
About Orville Johnson
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Orville Johnson was born in 1953 in Edwardsville, Illinois and came up on the St. Louis, Missouri music scene, where he was exposed to and participated in a variety of blues, bluegrass and American roots music. He began singing in his Pentecostal church as a young boy, in rock bands in middle school, then took up the guitar at 17,with early influences from Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Chuck Berry. In the early 1970's, Orville spent several seasons playing bluegrass on the SS Julia Belle Swain, a period-piece Mississippi river steamboat plying the inland waterways, with his group the Steamboat Ramblers.
Orville moved to Seattle, Washington in 1978, where he was a founding member of the much-loved and well-remembered folk/rock group, the Dynamic Logs. Other musical associates include Laura Love, Ranch Romance, File' Gumbo Zydeco Band, Scott Law, and the Twirling Mickeys. Johnson, known for his dobro and slide guitar stylings and vocal acrobatics, has played on over 100 albums. He has appeared on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, Jay Leno's Tonight Show and was featured in the 1997 film Georgia with Mare Winningham. His musical expertise can also be heard on the Microsoft CD-ROMs, Musical Instruments of the World and the Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball. He teaches as well at the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Country Blues Week and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.
Orville released 4 recordings in the 1990's: The World According to Orville (1990) Blueprint for the Blues (1998) Slide & Joy (1999) an all-instrumental dobro tour de force and Kings of Mongrel Folk (1997) with Mark Graham. He also appeared on 4 discs with the File' Gumbo Zydeco Band and produced Whose World Is This (1997) for Jim Page and Inner Life (1999) for Mark Graham. In the 21st century, he has released Freehand, a new Kings of Mongrel Folk disc, Still Goin' Strong, and been featured in the soundtracks of PBS' Frontier House and the Peter Fonda flick The Wooly Boys as well as the compilation cd Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar.
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