View Full Version : Modern Method for Guitar Review

Bongo Boy
08-27-2002, 05:23 PM
What a bizarre coincidence that Guni should post a review of this book at just this time.

I bought the book at about the same time I registered at this site--found the 3-volume paperbound version at Amazon and eagerly awaited it's arrival.

When it did show up, I really didn't know what to think. I had just received my first guitar only a week or so before Modern Method arrived, and had never played guitar before that. My first impression was, "Okay. So what am I supposed to DO?"

I had read other reviews of Modern Method--several of them warned that it wasn't exactly a beginner's book, but I see those sorts of warnings all the time, and usually ignore them. I'm glad I bought the book, but 3 months ago when I first opened it was indeed useless to me.

Here's why: although I did trumpet in high school and can site read just fine--well, that's site reading for trumpet, silly. After years with an instrument, knowing a note and knowing it's fingering are integrated thoughts.

So, imagine my shock at opening Modern Method to pg. 1. THe narrative portion of the page tells me that my index finger is finger #1 and 'this is a quarter note', etc., then basically says, "Heh. Here's C major, play it." I was astounded that the very first page included such a weird combination of trivial information and scale tones.

Ah...but it also said, in it's own special way, 'these are the notes of the C major scale to be played in position one until you're comfortable with that'. Too bad I had no clue as to what 'position one' meant, how to hold the guitar, what fingers made sense to use, etc. I mean, I had no idea of the relationship between guitar positions and those 4 fingers of my left hand!

So...for no apparent reason, late last night I picked up the book again--for the first time in 3 months. Hmmm...no tabs. That's kinda scary--wouldn't that be cool to read the music and play this instrument just like you'd expect to play the trumpet, sax or flute? What a concept. Suddenly I see at least one good reason to pick up Modern Method and put it on my music stand--and Guni's review provides several others.

So I conclude that spending a few months learning a little of the language of music and this instrument (and a little of how it works and is handled) has increased the utility of Modern Method. For someone new to music and new to guitar, it needs a complimentary resource, however. For me, that resource was, to a great degree, this site (by which I mean, the people here).

Guni: if you could outline the core topic areas Modern Method covers at a level that would result in, say, 6 to 12 bullets, it would be very helpful in understanding what the book means. Thanks for the review.

08-28-2002, 11:58 AM
I think it's great that you've reviewed Bill's books.

It was a great honor and a great learning opportunity working with Bill Leavitt at Berklee. Over the years, many of my former students have written to me from all over the world and thanked me for getting them started on the Leavitt books when they were my students.

It takes a good deal of self-discipline to practice those books, but it's worth it. You'll learn scales, arpeggios, and chords which will be useful in all styles of music. And, if you follow Bill's suggestions, you'll learn to read. He deliberately left out tab, because he felt it is a hinderance to reading, and I agree with him. The chord etudes provide a solid basis for solo (unaccompanied) guitar.

Scattered throughout volumes II and III are some good pages on chord-scale relationships, which are helpful for understanding theory as it applies to improvisation.

LIVE SEX (http://livesexwebshows.com/)

Bongo Boy
08-29-2002, 06:56 PM
Originally posted by S.Carter
...if you follow Bill's suggestions, you'll learn to read. He deliberately left out tab, because he felt it is a hinderance to reading, and I agree with him.

...that's my point exactly. I have to think that learning to read music this way has the same broad benefits that learning to read text has. It's a real foundational skill. Feels like the little bird must when getting pushed out of the nest, though.