Monday, August 30, 2010

Lesson Support - Where Traditional Method Books Fall Short

The mantra at discoverlearnandplay is..."there are no magic bullets!"  Our learning process requires a bit of work, some reading and light study, a sprinkling of memorization and a side order of stick-to-it-iveness....just like most things that are worth tackling. But we've packaged it in a no-nonsense format and painstakingly edited the entire content so that it is orderly and sequential.  There's just not a lot of 'fluff' involved. 

One aspect that separates our product from traditional "method books" is support, which includes (among others), Live Help, Instrument Support and Lesson Support.  Having this information online allows us to make quick and easy changes in real time.  There's no re-printing, no re-shipping required and users always have the most recent version(s) of support right at their fingertips. It's simply too costly for traditional publishers of method books to re-tool and in fact, some books (you know who you are) have included the same mistakes for years and years. It's time for innovation!

The comments below are from Lesson Support for guitar. They are an overview of the 'in-house' experiences our teachers have made during the many years of teaching this (Lesson 1) material.

General Comments 
Whole notes and whole rests are prominently featured in this song. Be sure to hold each whole note for four full beats. Also be sure to count four beats (of silence) for each of the whole rests.

The basic pattern of the melody in this song is to step up through the five notes and then step back down again. However, the pattern changes with the whole note in measure 11. Don’t let this catch you by surprise!

Be ready for the only measure of quarter notes in this song – measure 10. Make sure that these quarter notes move exactly twice as fast as the half notes in the previous measure.

Every song, for every instrument in each of the 20 lessons of the Kore Series (that's over 7,000 songs!) includes instrument specific information.  The staff has essentially prepared a lesson plan (known on campus as Individual Instruction Documentation) for our users to read as part of their learning process.  The notes below are for Bits and Pieces #1 in Lesson 1 for guitar:

Guitar Info 
For now, use the 1st finger in the 1st fret for the note C, 2nd finger in the 2nd fret for the note A and 3rd finger in the 3rd fret for the note D. G and B will both be played on the open strings.

Be sure to let all notes ring for their full value. That means keeping the fingers of the fretting hand in place or allowing the open strings to vibrate uninterrupted as you count the full duration of each note.

Be sure to stop the strings from vibrating at all rests.

We recommend using a pick but you might also use your thumb to more comfortably find the notes and strings at these beginning stages.

Be sure to stay on the tips of the fretting fingers to create the clearest sound. 

Lastly, each of the first 5 Lessons include pointers to help you set a solid practice routine for future learning:   

Practice Pointers 
Check to make sure that you know how to perform each of the 5 notes required for this song. Practice each of the exercises to help prepare for the patterns of notes and rhythms we're using.

Try just saying the letter names of the notes all the way through the song before playing.

Practice first just moving from one note to the next smoothly and comfortably in each song.

Now add in the rhythm – checking yourself with the melody track can help keep you steady. When you can play through the songs consistently with all of the correct notes and rhythms, try playing with the background tracks - first with the help of the melody and then without.

All of this information comes from just one area of support for the Kore Series.  There's also a killer Glossary, Live Help, Tech Support and Custom Support and the iMusickEd that inlcudes access to our educational Webinars, Forums,  Blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.  

Traditional method books or online services?  Seems like a no-brainer!