Welcome to another issue of Guitar Noises. In addition to this newsletter, I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to pick up some new followers on Twitter this week. I always reply to your emails and Twitter is another way for us to stay in touch. You can also check out Guitar Noise on Instagram.
Learning guitar from videos alone doesn’t work. It’s too hard to retain information or develop skills from clips.
Everyone has their own natural learning style, their own preferred way to absorb and retain new information. It takes a variety of activities to learn guitar.
We might be able to comprehend something new from a video. But committing it to memory and knowing how to make use of it at the right time is tricky. Recalling anything more than the just the general idea after a few days is pretty unlikely. If you don’t keep a journal or record of the lessons you watch, how do you keep track of what you’re trying to learn?
In general, YouTube instructors wrap up lessons quickly and encourage you to join them in another video. Where is the record of the time you spent together? If you don’t take notes how are you going to remember what you did, what you’re supposed to practice, or what the learning objectives are?
Imagine your guitar instructor is the greatest college professor ever. They make notes for their students and pass them out at the end of every lecture. Guitar instructors have been doing this in person for years. Some of them actually spend a lot of time creating charts for students to refer to whenever necessary.
Online instructors are also starting to recogonize the value of having something written down to accompany their videos. They create shareable documents you can print and use as learning aids. These study tools can either highlight the main takeaways of the lesson or break down the material into more manageable steps. For lack of a better word - these “cheat sheets” are a record of your learning.
A cheat sheet is a great learning tool that shouldn’t be undervalued because of its name. Cheat sheets remind you what the learning outcome of a lesson is supposed to be.
YouTube makes it possible for someone to teach full-time without ever meeting in person, or even having a website. Yet video platforms make it difficult to share other materials like transcriptions and backing tracks. Those extra materials take a lot of effort to produce and some of the savvier instructors are using Patreon to make them available.
If you don’t know what Patreon is or how it works that’s okay. I have friends that have never heard of it either.
Patreon is a way for creators to get paid for things they’re already creating. It’s a crowdfunding site used by YouTubers, podcasters and other artists like musicians. Someone who creates content regularly can receive funding directly from patrons on a recurring basis. Many guitar instructors use Patreon to earn a living from teaching. It makes a lot of sense for guitarists to use it as one of Patreon’s co-founders was a musician looking to make a living from his YouTube videos.
Many famous YouTubers you know are already using Patreon. A search for guitar instructors on the site will turn up hundreds of results. As with all things online, the quality of the work can vary wildly. Today I want to share one guitar teacher who uses Patreon really well to improve his free video lessons.
Song Notes by David Pots
David Pots (real name David Potsiadlo) creates instructional PDFs to accompany the hundreds of videos he’s posted on YouTube. As he explains on his site:
Guitar can be complicated to learn! While my free video lessons will get you started in learning songs or techniques, I believe there is immense value in print-friendly diagrams that you can reference alongside my video lessons. I take great pride in creating diagrams to explain the concepts behind strumming patterns, fretboard & chord charts, scales, tablature, and more.
David creates two types of premium printable content. There are instructional PDFs for the techniques and exercises he teaches. They are designed to get you up-to-speed with concepts you can use in different songs. You can explore some free samples from the Song Notes download page. For $3 a month you can access all of the instructional PDFs made so far. New lessons and cheat sheets are added almost every week.
David also creates PDFs for his song lessons. The song sheets are detailed cheat sheets, showing you how to work up different strumming patterns or arrangements of popular songs. There may be a basic version for the real beginner and then a step by step method that works up to making it sound like the original recording. If you browse David’s lessons on his site or YouTube channel you can see the kind of songs he teaches. From country to pop and classic rock, there’s a little bit of everything.
The song sheets are properly licensed and 100% legal, ensuring the publishers and songwriters are getting their fair share. This is accomplished by selling the song sheets exclusively through Musicnotes.com. The song sheets typically cost less than $5, and Patreon supporters get a 50% discount.
I’ve gone over several of David’s lessons with printed PDFs in hand. They are thoughtfully and carefully put together. They are concise enough to save paper yet comprehensive enough to make spending $3 a month a good investment. If you are a beginner having trouble with strumming patterns or remembering little details they will be very useful.
While writing this newsletter I inadvertently created a music journal of Song Notes lessons I had watched. The cheat sheets somehow become an entire folder of new music to practice. Now whenever I want to revisit a song or technique I only have to flip through my notes.
If you’re new to Patreon it’s worth pointing out that Patreon billing is on the first of the month. If you sign up on the 30th of the month you can expect to get billed again on the 1st of the next month.
Searching Patreon for guitar instructors will turn up hundreds of teachers. The quality of their exclusive content varies wildly. I could fill several newsletters with the time wasters. For now I’ll just leave it at this. If you need a little extra nudge to remember what’s going on in some of those videos you watch, check out David Pots and his Song Notes.
Who are some of your favorite guitar instructors on Patreon? Let me know in the comments below.