by Kathy Unruh

Every once in awhile a guitar student will express a desire to be in a band someday. If this is your ambition too, then read on. Whether you’re a guitar player or not doesn’t really matter. If you are a talented singer or musician then the question is, do YOU want to be in a band? In this article you will find some helpful ideas on how to get started in that direction.

One of the first things you will need to do is gain exposure for yourself. This can be as easy as following three simple steps:

  1. Tell everyone you know that you want to start a band.

    (Word of mouth is one of the best advertising strategies)

  2. Make a flyer to put up around town (in music stores, at schools, on bulletin boards, etc.)
  3. Place a classified ad in all the local newspapers

Here is an example of something you might say in your advertising:

“Lead guitarist seeking individuals interested in starting a Christian Rock band. Looking for a lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist and drummer. The emphasis will be on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through music. If you have a desire to use your musical gifts in this way, please call (give your name and phone number) for an interview.”

You can make the ad as detailed or generic as you need to. The important thing is to have a clear idea in your own mind of who you want in your band. Do you need a bass player, singer, drummer…? What type of qualifications or experience will you expect? Is age a factor? Jot down a list of questions to ask and keep it by your phone. When someone does call, you will be ready to have the interview right on the spot.

Try to make your questions require a yes or no answer, or a very short reply. That way, it will be easier for you to take notes. If someone looks like a good potential band mate, get their phone number and tell them you would like to call them back after you are through holding your interviews.

Try not to keep people waiting too long (between 2-4 weeks) if possible. When you’re ready, review your notes and decide who you want to call. Set up a time that is convenient for everyone you’ve selected to meet at YOUR CHOSEN LOCATION. This is important if you want to establish yourself as the originator of the band in order to maintain an influence on its direction.

I should insert a word of caution here. You might want to “play it safe” by not inviting them to your home until after you get to know them a little better. After all, they are strangers, but it’s your call of course.

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You may want to keep the first meeting with your new band members very low key. Use the time to make introductions, share past experiences, set goals, discuss ideas, etc. This will give you the opportunity to gauge whether you think each personality is going to be able to work together and get along. Avoid egocentric people like the plague as they will just create friction with other members of the band. Assess everyone fairly, but realistically. It’s better to get rid of a bad apple right away, rather than allow them to spoil the enthusiasm for the rest of the group.

After your first band meeting, you can aim for the next one to be an informal “jam” session. At this time you will be able to get a feel for whether the group is going to gel or not. But don’t be too hasty in your decisions! I remember one time “auditioning” for a band and being so self-conscious that I just couldn’t relax and enjoy the experience. It was a local band that I had known of for some years and often desired to be a part of. Even though I had already acquired quite a bit of experience performing on my own, this was different. It was someone else’s “thing”. Nothing seemed to go right!

After I got home that evening, I was sure they would never call me back. The surprise was, they did! However, the second time wasn’t much better, but they decided to give me another chance and invited me to come back one more time. It’s a good thing for me, because the third time was the charm. Our voices and music blended so perfectly that I just knew I was in. I share this story so that you might give your new fledgling band some time to get off the ground. If nothing seems to ignite a spark after giving it a fair amount of time, then you might want to reconsider your options. That’s something only you will be able to determine.

Well, that’s about all there is to it really. Once you’ve got your band members picked, you’re ready to start making music! If you have some original tunes, be sure to share them with the others. See if anyone else in the group has written any songs too. Be open, honest and ready for almost anything. If you establish your own priorities first, it will help you to stay focused through whatever ups and downs may come along. And always remember, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”


Buying A Guitar

7 Agustus 2008

Do You Know What to Look For?

by Kathy Unruh

Buying a guitar is an important decision that my students have often asked me about. They want to know what they should look be looking for. This is a good question because no two are ever exactly alike. There is a wide variety of types, styles, colors, makes, and models to choose from. The question is, which one is right for you? If you don’t know what to look for when you’re buying a guitar, you could end up spending a lot more money than you really need to. On the other hand, getting a “deal” may also get you a lemon.

Following are some questions for you to consider.

  1. What style of music are you interested in playing?The basic skills required when learning to play are the same regardless of the style of music you may be interested in. However, you should understand when you are thinking of buying a guitar, that some are more suited for a particular style than others. Getting started in the right direction can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Do you like Rock’n Roll, Jazz, Bluegrass, or Classical music? Considering your own personal tastes can help you to determine whether to buy an electric or an acoustic guitar for example.
  2. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced guitarist?When it comes to buying a guitar for beginners, I usually recommend either a classical or an electric guitar, as they will be the easiest on the fingers. However, students with small hands may find the wider neck of a classical guitar hard to play because of the reach involved. Something to consider in this case is a 1/2 or 3/4 size.

    Musical style, personal preference, quality and price are the key determining factors to consider when buying a guitar for intermediate and advanced players.

  3. What is the tonal quality of the instrument?Tonal quality refers to the unique sound of each individual guitar. When you strum the strings or listen to it being played what do you hear? Does it sound deep, bright, soft, dull, tinny? The instrument should resonate (transmit the full vibrating quality of it’s sound) clearly.
  4. How is the action?The action is simply how high or low the strings are set on the fretboard. This will greatly affect the playability. If the strings are set too high they will be difficult to push down and you will be working harder than necessary to play the instrument. On the other hand, if the strings are set too low they will likely interfere with the frets, which may cause a buzzing sound as you play.You should check each fret thoroughly before buying a guitar. This can be done by using the first finger of your left hand to play each string at every fret up and down the neck. Do you here any buzzes? Does the guitar sound in tune at every point? Is it easy to push the string down? If you are unsure about doing this, then try to take someone who plays guitar along with you as you shop.
  5. Is the neck straight?If the neck is straight, the intonation will be consistent. This means that when a specific note or chord is played at different points along the neck it will remain in tune. If the note or chord sounds out of tune at different points, then the neck may be crooked or warped. You can check the neck by looking along it’s edge. Begin from the base of the body and continue on up to the base of the head. You should see a straight line. If you don’t, the neck may be bowed, twisted, or warped.
  6. How does the neck feel in your hand?Necks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you will need to determine what feels comfortable to you. Some necks are round and some have a v-shape angle to them. When you cradle the neck in your hand be aware of the fit. Thin necks tend to be easier for small hands, but are generally not as strong as heavier ones. For example, a 12-string guitar will have a heavier neck than a 6-string. Buying a guitar that is the wrong size for your hand can be a factor in developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
  7. What are you willing to spend?If you’re just starting out, you really shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money when buying a guitar. Knowing what your budget will allow can help to speed up the process though. If you only have $200 to spend, don’t waste time looking at more expensive models. You can always upgrade later after you’ve had sufficient time to explore your musical interests. I personally own 9 or 10 guitars and there is always room for one more! Be realistic about your own needs and keep these questions in mind as you shop. Better yet, print them out and take them with you. Happy Hunting!


by Kathy Unruh

Using your guitar to create a song can be both fun and challenging. Whether you’re just writing lyrics or working out an instrumental piece, the creative process can help to improve your overall ability to internalize rhythms and sounds. Songwriting can also help you to develop a greater sense of feeling as opposed to playing from a merely mechanical or “bookish” approach. This happens because you have to depend more on what you hear than on what you see. As you listen to different tones, rhythms and chord progressions, it’s important to take note of how you feel. What sounds do you like, dislike? Because there are no real rules here, you can try anything you want!

Not long ago I began creating a few instrumental pieces for a guitar workshop I was planning to attend. My husband suggested I compose a piece of music using snow as my theme. This got me to thinking about how I could use my guitar to express the feeling of snow beginning to fall lightly from the sky. I wanted a delicate sound to start with, nothing complicated. So, I began with a few notes played high on the 12th fret. Then I gradually descended to the 5th fret, building intensity as I moved down the neck. I had to mess around with the notes a bit until I got a finger-picking pattern I liked. This changed a few times along the way, but became more consistent as the song began to take shape.

Writing songs with lyrics can be similar. Sometimes I start by developing a musical idea or theme on my guitar, but other times I start with the words. Ideas have come to me occasionally when I am just walking down the road. I suppose this is because my mind is free to wander and play with words when I’m relaxed and enjoying myself. Not long ago the following phrase popped into my head while I was meandering along on a sunny day: “Fire, cold as ice.” It sounds strange, but I liked it and ended up writing an entire song around it.

If you’re wondering how to write a song, here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a chord you are familiar with (such as G, D, A, etc.) and experiment with it.
  • Leave one or two fingers in place as you move a free finger(s) to a different string nearby.
  • Strum or pick each string and listen to the tones.
  • Try a different fret, different string, strum different rhythms.
  • If you hear something you like, play it over and over until you have it memorized.
  • Use this as your starting point, or theme, and write the rest of the music around it.

The most important thing is to relax and enjoy the process. Let yourself sing whatever nonsense comes to mind. It doesn’t need to make sense or even rhyme. If you happen to hit on a phrase or chord progression you like, write it down. Or better yet, record it. Use your cell phone if you have to. It doesn’t matter what it sounds like at this point, you just want to remember what you’ve created so you can continue working on it.

Don’t be afraid to get feedback from a trusted friend or fellow musician. They may be able to give you more creative ideas or even become an important songwriting partner. That’s what happened with Lennon-McCartney right? Well, it might just happen to you too!


7 Agustus 2008

by Kathy Unruh

Have you ever wondered how to copyright songs?

If you are a songwriter, the chances are you have. There are many variables that can enter into registering a copyright which can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Hopefully this article will shed some light on the subject so you can understand the process a little better.

Below are some general questions people have asked me regarding how to copyright original songs and lyrics. The answers are based on my own knowledge and personal experience. As you read through them you just might gain some insight with regard to your own questions.


Is it reasonable to copyright the lyrics alone, and then later add the recordings – or is this not the best way to do it. Does that make it cost more money?


The lyrics to a song are legally copyrighted from the moment it’s written. Be sure to identify yourself as the original author by adding your name and date to the lyric page. Here is what the law states:

“Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.” ~Library of Congress

Registering song lyrics with the Library of Congress simply provides a legal witness as to who the author is.

Personally speaking, I would not bother to register the lyric of a song separately from the music as I feel it is a waste of time and money.


If other people wrote the music, do these works have to be sent separately, even though someone else is the creator/owner of the lyrics?


No, but credit should be given to the authors of the music on the form that’s submitted. A space is provided for this on the form (PA). The last song I registered had a small section of cello music that was created by another person. The lyrics and basic melody, guitar parts, etc. were created by myself and my husband. We used one form for everything.


If multiple works are registered at the same time, is it there a fee for each lyric? If several songs are part of a musical, is it a fee for each song, or for the musical?


Multiple works can be filed as a compilation for one fee. This is what I did with my first album. I wrote six songs and my friend wrote six songs. I created all the lead guitar and accompaniment parts for all the songs on the album, plus did some additional arranging for my friend’s songs. We registered the songs together under a joint band name, and we were able to retain individual copyrights for each song.

I hope the information in this article was helpful. The Library of Congress is an excellent free resource that will answer any additional questions you may have about copyrighting.

Classical Guitar Music

7 Agustus 2008

by: Chris Kettlelson

Classical guitar music can be located on the internet quite easily if you know how and where to search for it. Whether you are looking to make a purchase or download some free music you can find it on the net. Of course it will be a little trickier to try and locate the free stuff!

All it takes is a little elbow grease and some proper search techniques and you should have no problem locating the sites that offer free classical guitar music. A good start is to try typing in the sheet music your looking for and then add a “+” and the word free. This will bring up some good results to start with.

>From there you should be able to search through the sites and pick to the ones that are going to let you have some free classical guitar music from the sites that are going to ask you to pay a few dollars for the music. A lot of the sites that offer the free classical guitar music use tablature instead of sheet music.

Sheet is great but it can have a large learning curve and that is simply not what most people want when they are looking for classical guitar music, they want to play something!

Keep in mind that if it’s just the free music you are going after you will have a hard time finding some of the really good songs that you are probably wanting to play. The good thing is though that it does not cost too much to purchase classical guitar music and it is usually not more the five dollars on most sites.

Before you go out and make any purchases however make sure that you are a skilled enough player to attempt to play the songs! Some music can be very difficult and you will end up getting frustrated and mad that you wasted your money. Of course it is a good incentive to practice harder! After all in order to play the really beautiful classical guitar music you will have to practice quite a bit but it will pay off when you are playing for all your family and friends!

by: Daniel Wright

Whether you have been playing the violin since you were young, or want to start taking lessons now, there are a number of things to consider when shopping for a violin online. These things include cost, location of the product, quality, and additional items the violin is being sold with. You should research online for a good old violin shop to find quality violins for sale (

Cost is the first and foremost concern in any purchase you make. This cost can be outstanding when shopping for a musical instrument. A fiddle ( or violin can cost anywhere from one hundred to a million dollars and the one you choose can be somewhere between these amounts. Buying a cheaply made instrument would not be worth the time and energy involved. A quality violin can be expected to cost around a thousand dollars. You may want to consider learning to play a different instrument if you don’t want to spend this much.

In today’s world where online technology has made it easy to find an old violin shop ( anywhere in the world, there may be some reasons to stick to the traditional shopping near home concept. In purchasing an instrument from an old violin shop found online, there are several risks associated. For example, the instrument can be damaged during shipping and they are very sensitive to weather variations. For this reason, if having an instrument sent from a distance is the method one chooses, it is best to consider insurance on the product.

The quality of the instrument is very important. There is no use in learning to play a bad quality instrument because it will never sound good. It will also be more prone to breaking and slipping out of tune. This is why you need to consider the cost of the instrument when making your decisions.

Often times the fiddle ( will be sold with a case and a bow. These are extra items that you will want to compare when choosing your violin. Quality cases and bows are also expensive so if the cost of the violin includes these, you could be getting a good deal.

The violin is an intricate instrument. It is very delicate and sensitive to its environment. It is possible to buy a few violins that are good quality but are broken in some way or another and take the pieces to a repair shop and get them mended together.

by: Paul Smith

Electric guitars are strongly associated with famous musicians of the twentieth century—and may be the iconic musical instrument of our time. Here’s a brief history of their rise in popular music.

During the Big Band Era in the 20’s and 30’s, performers experimented with attaching microphones to acoustic guitars in order to amplify the sound. Most electric guitars were hollow-bodied acoustics with electric pickups. But the hollow space within the guitar produced vibrations that made harsh feedback when interacting with electric pickups.

Manufacturers experimented with solid-body guitars to get rid of the feedback. One of the earlier solid-body guitars was an aluminium instrument known as the “Frying Pan” or “Pancake Guitar.” In 1940, Les Paul attempted a solid-body instrument called the “log guitar,” so called because it was a simple post equipped with neck, strings, and pickups.

The electric guitar did not hit commercial success until the 1950’s, when Fender released its first solid-body model: the Esquire. The Esquire was followed by the Telecaster and finally, in 1954, the Stratocaster.

The aggressive sound of the electric guitar became characteristic of rock and roll in the 60’s and 70’s. It was a high-profile instrument during this time, appearing on stage with dozens of famous bands and musicians.

This created demand for affordable electric guitars. In the 60’s and 70’s, electric guitars were too expensive for ordinary buyers. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that Japanese manufacturers stepped forward with affordable electric guitars that sounded good. This put pressure on American companies such as Gibson and Fender to provide their own affordable lines.

Today, the electric guitar is one of the most prolific instruments in popular music. You can find it in a wide variety of genres, from metal to New Age.