Learning to play a musical instrument can transform your life in so many wonderful ways. I know because I’m a self-taught guitarist and took piano for 9 years. Over the years, I have enjoyed using these skills to perform both in public and private, and the joy that music gives me and others is well worth the time it takes to learn.
Already, I can see that my children have musical gifts, but traditional lessons can cost a lot of money, require a regular commute, and having the right teacher can make or break the whole experience. When my eldest son, 14-year-old Joseph, expressed interest in learning guitar, I was faced with two problems. As a busy mother of 8 children, I didn’t have the time or necessary skills to teach him, and we didn’t have the means necessary to procure and commit to lessons locally. Around this time, we were given the opportunity to try Fender Play free for 6 months, along with a complimentary guitar and AMP. Problem solved!
Fender let Joseph pick out his very own acoustic-electric guitar. Yes, I was slightly jealous, and yes, I have asked Joseph “Can I play your guitar for a minute?” many times over!
Joseph chose the Sonoran SCE Acoustic-Electric dreadnought in classic black with a white pick guard. What sold him on this particular model was the maple Stratocaster neck with a “C” profile (top right photo), which delivers the cool look and feel of an electric guitar, but on an acoustic body. Joseph’s Sonoran features a polished spruce top, mahogany back and sides, maple neck and headstock and a rosewood fingerboard.
And because this is an acoustic-electric guitar, he’s got Fender’s quality onboard Fishman electronics with preamp, tuner, volume and tone controls.
After signing up for Fender Play, you choose your path – Rock, Pop, Country, Blues or Folk. This will customize your content, drills and songs to your musical preferences. You can also set your account to Acoustic or Electric. Fender Play is designed to get new guitarists, even those with zero experience, picking and playing within minutes. The curriculum includes hundreds of exercises, drills and instructional videos that are at your fingertips 24/7.
For over a month now, Joseph has been taking advantage of his Fender Play access, with me occasionally looking over his shoulder. The Fender Play video lessons are really well done. The instructor’s voice is clear and well-paced. Each lesson focuses on a bite-sized skill, so it’s not too overwhelming. There’s always some review and practice at the end. With Fender’s online guitar instruction, you get an effective duo of curriculum experts paired with a leading, acclaimed brand.
The Fender Play interface is straightforward, with an easy-to-use menu so you can find exactly what you need with a few clicks. Choose what you want to do each time you log in – Songs, Skills, Articles, etc. Or just click My Path, and Fender will show where you left off last time. Students can also see at a glance what progress they are making with the tracker at the top of the home screen. When I took this screenshot, Joseph had learned 3 new chords, 5 skills, 3 songs and completed 26 lessons. He was at Level 2.
I did notice one omission in the lesson that teaches you to tune the instrument. The “Tune Up!” acoustic lesson instructs the student to use Fender’s tuning app, but neither my son nor I have a smartphone, and I’m sure this might be an issue for others as well. As a musician, I would have preferred that the instructor devote a full lesson to tuning the guitar in the traditional way – by ear, or using harmonics. We don’t always have access to technology, and talents like having a “good ear” for music should be developed.
I did hunt around the Fender website, and found a separate video on tuning with harmonics, but ideally I think there should be instruction for tuning by ear built into the video lessons for beginners. It’s one of the first skills I learned as a fledgling guitar player.
Just this week, Joseph practiced the E minor and open A chords, and we put them together for a rendition of Donald, Where’s Your Trousers? (a comic Scottish tune).
It has been wonderful to hear Joseph say “Can I do a few guitar lesson?” this summer instead of “I’m bored,” or “Can I play a video game?” Nearly every day he asks to sign in so he can learn another chord. He’s been putting in his favorite folk CD’s and trying to play along using the skills he’s learned.
Start a FREE 30-day trial of Fender Play today, and see how quickly your teenager could be playing his first song!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.