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By Steve Elmer
Today there is no shortage of music software to assist you in learning to play instruments like the guitar and keyboards. But all music software isn’t created equal.
eMedia Music has been making high-quality music instructional software since 1994 and is the world’s leading publisher of software for learning the guitar, picking up numerous endorsements from well-known musicians like Peter Frampton and Heart’s Nancy Wilson along the way.
Guitar Method Volume 1 offers 165 lessons that introduce you to the basics of the acoustic or electric guitar. Moving from a basic orientation to the instrument, you quickly learn how to get your guitar in tune with the included virtual electronic tuner. You then move on to chord strumming, playing melodies, fingerpicking, and other techniques.
The multimedia capabilities of the software are used to good practical purposes. Over 50 videos featuring instructor Kevin Garry, Ph.D., demonstrate concepts and techniques clearly. Other resources include an animated fretboard with fingerings, multitrack audio, and variable-speed MIDI tracks.
When you start to get the hang of one of the songs, you can try your hand at playing along with full MIDI backing tracks. The animated fretboard shows you where to put your fingers, at whatever speed you choose, experiencing the feeling of playing along with a full band!
There’s a digital metronome to keep your timing in sync; a chord dictionary with over 250 chords; and a digital recorder that allows you to compare your recordings with the instructor’s version, hone your skills, and save your musical inspirations. Handy tips are interspersed liberally throughout the program. It’s easy to see why Guitar Method sets the standard in music software.
The eMedia Rock Guitar Method puts the focus on learning rock, punk, and metal tunes and techniques. Including most of the features found in the standard version of Guitar Method like the autotuner, animated fretboard, chord dictionary, and recorder, Rock Guitar Method provides an exhaustive library of techniques needed to play rock, punk, and metal. These include movable power chords, barre chords, effects pedals, yanks, hammer-ons, pull-offs, palm muting, distorted riffs, the blues scale, the whammy bar, using feedback, and more!
eMedia presents the material in digestible chunks so that you’re never overwhelmed with too much information nor given too little. The process of learning a song is broken down into a three-step process: first you watch the video as the instructor plays the song; second, you practice the techniques slowly with warm-up exercises; third, you play along with the song as the animated fretboard assists you with the proper finger placements. Tests at the conclusion of each segment review and reinforce your newly acquired skills.
Charles McCrone, the instructor and a Guitar Institute of Technology grad, demonstrates the material in an informal, informative, and enjoyable way. The songs include hard rock anthems like "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath, "You Really Got Me" as played by Van Halen, and "Lake of Fire" as performed by Nirvana.
Piano and Keyboard Method includes over 300 lessons and songs that range from classical to rock, blues, and country. The step-by-step lessons start with basics like hand position, rhythm, and playing on the black keys, and then move on to music notation, sight-reading, scales, and more. You’ll also learn a lot about music in general as you develop your keyboard technique. Music majors in college are required to pass a keyboard proficiency test to internalize the concepts of western musical tradition, which is what you will do as you progress with the Piano and Keyboard Method CD-ROM.
Instructor Irma Irene Justicia, M.A., has taught at the renowned Julliard School of Music, and guides you through the video demonstrations and techniques. You can play along with full multitrack songs and record your performances. And if you have a MIDI keyboard and MIDI interface, you can get specific feedback on mistakes in rhythm and note selection as you play along. Over 100 songs include pop gems like Billy Joel’s "Piano Man" and Elton John’s "Candle in the Wind."
These three eMedia Mac OSX- and Windows-compatible titles are valuable resources for anyone interested in learning the guitar or keyboards. They cost far less than traditional lessons and make a valuable adjunct to personalized instruction. eMedia CD-ROMs offer a complete self-teaching regimen that will build your skills in no time.