Pop Music Fans Need Video Lessons Too

You may be familiar with a video series I’ve been working on called "Quick Licks." These are one- to three-minute mini-lessons on how to play key licks in popular songs.

Most of the tunes I’ve done have been in the hard rock or classic rock vein, and I have a hell of a lot of fun making these videos because it’s all music I cut my teeth on, know really well and enjoy playing. Also, the idea is to make the lessons as streamlined and easily digestible as possible, cutting out all the bullshit and getting right into playing.

The response, I’m grateful to report, has been very positive.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to make a series for YouTube using the same concept, only showcasing pop songs and aiming the lessons at beginners. Two of them have gone live so far — Plain White T’s’ "Rhythm of Love" and "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele.

The response has been, well, not so positive. Therefore, this blog post is for the haters.

1. This is not about musical styles, it’s about guitar. I’m as proud of these videos (I’ve got a Taylor Swift one in the queue, also) as I am the ones where I cover Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. If you don’t like Adele, why are you clicking on a video to learn one of her songs? Move it along, nothing to see here.

2. You’re all virtuosos, I get it. While your ability to sit in your bedroom and play scales and pinch harmonics really fast is quite enviable, you must remember that you were a beginner once. You couldn’t fret an open G chord, much less fret anything without making the string buzz or the note fart out. Don’t take for granted that anyone could figure this stuff out on their own; not everyone’s ear is as good as yours. Not everyone’s technique is as developed as yours. These videos are not for you. Move it along, nothing to see here.

3. If you don’t like pop lessons, don’t fucking click on them. Pretty self-explanatory, no?

4. I have a ridiculous last name. You don’t like the videos, so the next logical step, of course, is to attack my last name. That’s fine. Problem is, I’ve heard them all, so if you’re going to sharpen your wits on me, try to be a little more inventive than “Shaftglass.” I put some effort into these videos; put a little elbow grease into your insults, for God’s sake.

In all seriousness, haters, I hear what you’re saying. But while I may not be a fan of some of this stuff, I try to at least appreciate why someone else may like it. If you aspire to be a working musician, and something you hate has mass appeal, it’s foolish to ignore it or fail to try and understand why it connects with so many people.

One of the YouTube comments said that I get stuck with the “shit jobs” because Guitar World makes me shoot these things. I don’t see how helping someone learn to play the instrument we all love so much is a “shit job.”

Let the beginners and pop fans have their videos. They don’t pose any threat to you. You can still view my Metallica lessons or Soundgarden Quick Licks, or the myriad advanced lessons posted at GuitarWorld.com.

Guitar World music editor Matt Scharfglass has performed around the country and internationally, playing virtually all types of music with a wide range of artists, including R&B with Ashford & Simpson, old-school swing with the Blue Saracens and gospel with Richard Hartley & Soul Resurrection. Matt appears on the original-cast recording of Evil Dead: The Musical and the Broadway Cares album Home for the Holidays. He has also worked in countless theater pits and plays guitar up in the organ booth to crowds of 18,000 at New York Rangers home games at Madison Square Garden. An accomplished guitar and bass transcriber, Matt has had more than 600 of his transcriptions appear in Guitar World magazine and in books by Warner Brothers, Music Sales and Hal Leonard. He has also authored more than a dozen bass and guitar instructional books, including the "You Can Do It...Play Bass!" and "…Play Guitar!" series. He is the bassist and one of the main songwriters for his rock band, The Border Cops.

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