Country Blues => Performance Corner => Topic started by: 2handband on April 12, 2005, 08:01:10 AM

Title: Country Blues Instruction Market?
Post by: 2handband on April 12, 2005, 08:01:10 AM
Hi, I'm Gene and this is my first post on this forum. I am a blues and ragtime guitarist and guitar educator. I have a question that I've been posting on various guitar forums and would like some input from this board. Do you think there is a market for a country blues guitar method aimed at the complete beginner? I've been teaching this music for years and just lately have had many students who have never before touched a guitar who are very interested in these styles. Most methods that I am familiar with assume that you already have a basic understanding of the instrument, and even ignoring that I haven't found any methods that I really have been able to use. I've developed a method myself which will take a student form complete beginner to the advanced stages (proven over and over again in my studio) but have been told by some people who ought to know that I'd be wasting my time trying to market it. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Hi
Post by: Slack on April 12, 2005, 09:57:32 AM
Welcome to Weenie Campbell Gene!

Sure there is a beginners CB market - cannot say how big it is - but my guess would be that it is pretty small.  There are a number of instructors with instructional material that cater to beginners - Happy Traum, Fred Sokolow, Stephan Grossman to name a few... so you know there is some kind of market.  Port Townsend workshop always has classes that cater to beginners and they are well attended. 

Never know till you try as they say.

Title: Re: Hi
Post by: koaguitarman on April 12, 2005, 10:34:45 AM
Hi Gene and Welcome
I agree with slack, you'll never know if you don't try. How much investment would be needed? It sounds like a great idea, all you need is some investers!
Title: Re: Hi
Post by: 2handband on April 12, 2005, 11:17:48 AM
Actually, Russ, that's the only thing stopping me right now; I want to do this on video and I'm looking at 5-10k. I'm working on trying to raise the money.
Title: Re: Hi
Post by: a2tom on April 12, 2005, 11:36:35 AM
It probably isn't strictly correct to say that there aren't materials out there for the complete beginner. ?That's how I started - I had to learn how to finger a C chord to be able to play my first song (Freight Train), and was off onto blues and ragtime from there. ?I used a couple of different things at the very beginning, but my main one was some material from Stefan Grossman. ?He (and the others mentioned) certainly already provide a significant volume of material for which you really don't need any prior time with the guitar. ?

I obviously know nothing of your approach to teaching, and it may be better than what is out there for those first tough days if you have an actual _method_ for finger training (fretting and picking) that is linked to the blues. ?But there is competition out there that has been out there for a while and is pretty well known. ?The burden would be on you to show you were better. ?The question of "what would it take to get started" is dead on - how much of a risk you are willing to take to produce and market first materials, how big your initial target market was, etc. ?Basic business plan stuff. ?

I'd be interested to hear what you find limiting in materials from folks like Grossman, Traum, etc. ?Seems to me that would define whether marketing your unique approach might be worth it.

Title: Re: Hi
Post by: 2handband on April 12, 2005, 01:04:00 PM
Thanks for the reply, Tom. The biggest limiting factor I've seen in most of the instructional material that I have tried to use for my students is that it's not progressive enough; it simply goes too fast and the jumps from one concept to the next are too large. Certainly at the beginner level; it seems to me that they try to rush through the basics in order to get to some more interesting arrangements, which is why I get the impression that these guys are operating under the assumption that most of their students already play the guitar. Also I think there is too much emphasis on playing arrangements of tunes and not enough on how the arrangements are constructed, which limits a students ability to create his or her own arrangements. I believe in slowly and carefully building a solid technical foundation while at the same time providing a thorough understanding of the theoretical construction of the music.
Title: Re: Hi
Post by: a2tom on April 12, 2005, 03:12:36 PM
In general I'd say "right on".? I'd be curious what others think, but alas these don't always seem to be the most popular ideas.?

"Slowly building a solid technical foundation" tends to scare many people (= work).? I have for one been generally lousy about skill development!? I have heard Stefan Grossman indicate that his approach is to not teach technique directly, but to teach tunes and let skill development come "naturally" with that.? I have little doubt that a more methodical approach would be beneficial, you've just got to convince people to do it!? I think that is a lot easier to do when you are giving weekly lessons in person, probably hard to do when you're selling a video.

"Create his or her own rearrangements" is a topic near and dear to me. Its my favorite thing to do, but I have found that most other people are geared toward learning the great tunes (and arrangements) of old.? This may in part be the group at Weenie Campbell, which obviously has an emphasis on the old music (why I like hanging out here - that may seem paradoxical, but its not).? ?But in the country blues all around I have found the consumer audicence to be less geared toward creating their own.

As for theory, take a poke around the forum and you'll find a definite discrepancy between the V7 crowd and the I just play it where it sounds right crowd.? On the whole, though, I suspect it is true that most CB hobbiests are theory deficient (myself included).? Once again = work.

These are just musings, I'm not trying to talk you out of anything, and I'd love to have people disagree with me.? In truth, I think it sounds like you probably have a lot to offer, but if you build it, will they come?

Oh, one last thing - like John M's materials, teaching that doesn't rely on tab is great.? Too many people get too attached to tab, I think.

Title: Re: Hi
Post by: jed on April 13, 2005, 02:45:27 AM
Welcome, Gene.  Have you looked at some of the videos out there?  The ones I've seen typically explain in the first minute exactly what experience is (or isn't) necessary in order to get the real value out of it.  As I think about it, Woody Mann is one who spends some time on showing how certain kinds of phrases can fit into personal arrangments - but not for beginners.

I imagine you've already figured out how to hold students' interest through the theoretical woods and practice-practiice-practice necessities.  So  you've already got the content down; the only hump, then, is marketing - and timing.  If your approach is unique and valid, all it takes is The Plan.  Feel free to message me offline if you want to talk about the production end (I've done some stuff there - in music, but not in the CB realm).

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