Network Learning Project #1 – Tuning the Guitar

Feb 3, 2014 by

I’m teaching an online graduate certificate class for Michigan State University. My students are almost all educators, and I never like to ask my learners to do something that I’m unwilling to do myself. So when they started on their Networked Learning Project (NLP), I decided it would only be fair for me to jump in and learn something myself. The NLP is simple in concept; the learners have to accomplish a task they’ve never done before using only Youtube videos and help forums. The internet would serve as their teacher as a means to reflect upon just how amazingly diverse and rich a resource the web has become.

Many of my students were eager to get started; learning the cello, how to yo-yo, and stained glass were just a few hobbies chosen to tackle. I choose to learn how to play the electric guitar.

My father was in a pretty decent high school band, but never really went anywhere with it beyond an album or two and hitting the local night clubs. When he hit his 40s, he and his buddies decided to have a little fun. They all bought new instruments, practiced hard, and put on a big charity concert for our community. He had a blast helping organizing and playing in the concert, but sadly it wasn’t long before he passed away from cancer. His Heritage H-535 cherry red electric guitar was passed down to me, someone who had never played a guitar in his life. It’s been sitting in closets and attics for almost 20 years now, going unplayed. I figured the Networked Learning Project was a good excuse as any to learn how to play this gorgeous guitar.

So I found this beginner’s video for guitar tuning from GuitarLessons365 on Youtube:

Having successfully tuned my guitar to itself (I don’t have an electric guitar tuner as was recommended in the video), I was quite proud about having learned that I didn’t actually need a pitch pipe or fancy equipment. I could get a “rough” tuning job done as long as I could tune the 6th string (the “E” string). From there I could tune each string to the previous one, and get an approximate tuning good enough for the likes of someone who is lucky not to drop the pick into the open holes on the face of the guitar body. And then I followed up with a terribly short rendition of the “Louie, Louie”. Or rather, a terrible AND short rendition of the Kingsmen hit. My son really stole the show, so if you want to see a precocious 4-year old ham it up with a microphone and a webcam, listen to me sing poorly, and play guitar even worse, the video I made is right up your alley!

Up next is going to be basic strumming. I’ve found a few videos that look promising, but I have yet to determine which will be best for a beginner. Stay tuned for more terrible tunes :)

6 Comments

  1. Zifang

    Congrats on taking the first step to learning the guitar! I’m doing exactly the same thing, and started about a week ago. I’m learning through the videos on this site http://justinguitar.com/en/AA-000-LessonIndex.php

    Happy learning!

  2. Wicked cool. Was just watching Shareski talk about going thru the same process…. and thinking about doing it myself. When I get home tonight, i think I’m going to join you.

    • Thanks, and good luck Steve! I’m totally digging this assignment, and it helps solve a riddle that always perplexes me; how to spend time with the family and still manage to juggle something for myself with work related tasks. Please share any and all video you’re willing to put out there!

  3. TechMarm

    I love this that you wouldn’t ask students to do anything you wouldn’t. Thems powerful words! You so creative. I may want to steal this.

  4. Irene Paparizos

    Great post!

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