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If you need fully personalized guitar lessons, then Correspondence Guitar Lessons should be your perfect choice. The instructor, Tom Hess, will take the extra efforts to focus fully on your specific guitar playing goals and then map out a strategy designed specifically for you to help you reach your goals. It was really the first time I found such a dedicated guitar teacher who would go the extra mile in a teacher-student relationship. I’ll talk about his dedication in detail below. This multimedia guitar lessons are consisted of videos, audio MP3s and short ebooks in PDF format. It’s a very decent product, though I wish it was a bit cheaper.
Tom Hess’ calibre and experience are by far the most outstanding among all online guitar teachers. He was a touring guitarist, recording artist and a former member of the band Rhapsody Of Fire from 2010 until 2013. Tom also toured Europe and the US with the band HolyHell and recorded the album “Apocalypse” which landed on the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition, Tom teaches musicians from all over the world how to improve their guitar playing skills, develop their music careers and build their own guitar teaching businesses. He is also a holder of 2 music degrees: one in music theory and another in music composition. You can check out more about his background information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Hess_(guitarist)
When you’re signing up for the lessons, you will be asked to answer quite a lot of questions in a detailed evaluation form regarding your current musical skills, knowledge, background and goals. Tom wants you to answer honestly so that he can plan a better or more relevant learning strategy in order for you to reach your musical goals. The questions include:
- How much time do you spend practicing guitar per week?
- What are your biggest long term goals that you would like to achieve by playing guitar?
- What are your short term goals?
- What styles of music do you like to listen to?
- What styles of music do you want to play?
- Who are your favourite bands and/or guitar players?
- Can you play barre chords?
- Can you play simple hammer ons and pull offs without problems?
- Can you easily change between chords?
- and a lot more questions about guitar scale, guitar playing speed, harmonics, arpeggios, sweep picking, legato, music theory, aural skills (ear training abilities) etc.
You will be given multiple-choice answers to choose from and some of them are audio examples. You’ll also be asked how much time you spent to answer some of the questions. Don’t worry about getting the answers wrong or answering too slow. It’s not an exam.
After filling out the evaluation form, you will need to decide whether or not you want to include “Practice Generator” and “Phrasing Concepts For Rock Lead Guitar Soloing” in your order. We’ll talk about both of these afterwards.
This review is a bit different from all other reviews that I have written. Everyone answers the evaluation form differently so there is no one-size-fits-all guitar course for everybody. You’re going to get a series of personalized guitar lessons from Tom based on your own musical goals, skills etc. Please note that Tom allows you to change your musical goals at anytime after you start your lessons. Within each lesson, you will get to choose another free bonus guitar lesson. Choose carefully because it’s irreversible once it’s chosen.
Now let’s talk about the video quality of Correspondence Guitar Lessons. Most of the videos show Tom teaching one of his students in front of a class. While the videos have high-definition (HD) quality, there are no close-up shots on either hand; however, there are multiple camera shots. Anyway, I personally think that it’s okay without the close-ups because after all this is not a beginner guitar course. As an intermediate or advanced player, one should be able to refer to the lesson ebooks and play. The most important thing is to learn the other skills, techniques, ideas and concepts that Tom mentions in the videos. Another thing is that not all lessons have videos. Tom’s argument is that some lessons are best taught with audio only instead of video because you will learn better using your ears instead of your eyes. One of the examples is rhythm guitar lesson.
If musical notes and tabs are required in the lessons, they will be included in the ebooks in PDF format. The ebooks and audio MP3 files can be downloaded and saved to your computer.
Please be advised that you need broadband internet access in order to play those online videos. Otherwise, you will be cheesed off with the video buffering speed.
Judging by Tom’s teaching style, I noticed that he emphasized a lot on self-discipline especially when it came to practice session. There is a practicing checklist which you are recommended to use it before you start your practice session. He wants you to have this mental checklist deeply ingrained in your mind. Another thing that you should know about him is that he doesn’t teach guitar style such as country, jazz/fusion, classical/acoustic guitar, finger picking, funk or folk styles. His specialties include classic rock, rock, metal, progressive rock, pop, blues, indie and neoclassical/shred only. Apart from the serious stuff, he is a fun and humorous guitar tutor.
Practice Generator is an online cool tool for you to generate your own practice schedule in 3 simple steps. The first step is to select your practice items. You will need to answer 4 questions for each of the practice items. These questions will determine how much practice time you need for a practice item and how frequent the practice is. Step 2 is to enter your average daily practice time. Finally, the last step is to generate the schedule. There are dozens of practice items/skills for you to choose from and at least 3 practice items are needed to generate the schedule. You can save, print or export it to excel. Let’s not forget that there are 3 more plain and simple online tools included in Practice Generator i.e. a guitar tuner, a metronome and a guitar practice timer which you can use to measure your practice time.
Phrasing Concepts For Rock Lead Guitar Soloing is an additional crash course which you can choose to purchase. It’s great for someone who wants to take his or her guitar soloing to the next level. It was authored by both Tom Hess and another professional guitarist and teacher named Nick Layton. This intensive course consists of an instructional PDF file and a series of audio MP3s. I could tell that the audio MP3 files were recorded in Nick’s voice.
There was another online cool tool called Delay and Frequency Calculator which I had never seen before in other guitar courses. It allows you to enter the BPM (beats per minute) of the song you’re working on, and it will give you the length in milliseconds of several notes values. Its functions are to set your delays, pre-delays, reverb etc. It will also calculate the Hertz modulation for each note value which is great for setting your modulation effects like tremolo, vibrato and low-frequency oscillation (LFO).
There are huge collection of informative articles and FAQs that you can refer to as a supplementary resource to the guitar lessons.
As a student of Tom Hess, your main privilege is to have the access to his exclusive private student forum. Despite the relatively small forum community, most of his students are advanced players and guitar teachers. There are literally tens of thousands of topics on the forum. It’s said that you would learn even more by using the forum frequently. Tom even encourages his students to send their recording of their guitar playing to him so that he can post his feedback on their playing on the forum. No one is allowed to comment on anyone’s playing except Tom though.
If all else fails, you can get help from live chat or email support.
The subscription fees vary depending on the frequency of lesson subscription.
- every week – USD 55
- every 2 weeks – USD 55
- every 3 weeks – USD 57
- every 4 weeks – USD 58
- every 6 weeks – USD 59
The price of Practice Generator is USD 17/month and the one-time price of Phrasing Concepts For Rock Lead Guitar Soloing is USD 49.95. Both of these are optional while you’re signing up for Correspondence Guitar Lessons.
The price is the most costly among online guitar lessons. If you’re not a serious guitar player, I do not recommend you to take his lessons. Is it worth the money? Yes, only if you’re very serious.
Unfortunately, there is no refund or money back guarantee. Again, you have to be determined and be really serious in guitar playing before signing up. Having said that, you can cancel the subscription anytime.
I have to stress that Correspondence Guitar Lessons is for intermediate and advanced guitar players only. Learning from an expert like Tom is a great experience. He opened my eyes about a few things. The mail package that Tom sent to me contained a message from himself and a music compilation CD created by a few of this students. He is an absolute dedicated rock music expert and teacher so you can definitely count on him to guide you to your success.
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