This is a very well presented tutor covering many areas that others miss and providing clear explanations.
This excellent tutor has now been divided into smaller volumes that are more manageable for the student. They still contain a lot of music and information, especially as the difficulty increases, but they are very well presented, cover many areas that others miss, and provide clear explanations without being too "wordy".
The books as a whole are accessible to all ages and would be suitable for adults to work through without a teacher (although this is never ideal!). The pictures illustrating technique are first class and there are constant references to maintaining good technique throughout each book including revision pages and tests. Each book follows a similar format beginning with a quick reference page and introduction, followed by a classical section, ensemble section and final chord section.
The structure and layout helps the student feel that they are learning something new and exciting on every page, even if it is only a game based on what they have already learned. This is very important for maintaining interest and momentum, especially for younger children. The many ideas for improvisation, ear training and theory are fantastic and so helpful for me, as a teacher who struggled to produce my own material while teaching such short lessons in too many schools! By bringing all of these elements together in such an easy way Richard Corr has produced a fun tutor that is helping to develop musicians, not just guitarists! It is a tutor that I highly recommend and will use - a breath of fresh air!
There is a comprehensive intro, addressed in turn to the student, the parent/guardian, the teacher and those teaching themselves. The writing here really draws you in emphasizing the excitement to the student, explaining the teaching method and practice to the parent, outlining the thoughts behind the teaching ideas to the teacher and adding encouragement to the self taught. This is followed by descriptions of different types of guitar, fitting strings, technique and sitting positions, tuning, reading music and a note reference picture. As each note is introduced, you can see it being played as well as having a written explanation.
Of course, all good teachers use demonstration, but it is invaluable to have the pictures to refer to between lessons. There are plenty of tunes to practice on as the notes are learnt which is so important, as repetition is vital to learning and variety maintains interest during this initial period. By the end of the classical section, the notes in first position have been covered, along with open basses, simple two-part music, rests and quavers. The ensemble section introduces the pentatonic scale and improvisation within an ensemble piece, which works brilliantly! A final ear training section explains intervals and describes ways to recognize them.
This volume starts with a quick reference of notes, chords and accidentals followed by an introduction that takes the same format as in book one. It previews what there is to look forward to in book two, focussing particularly on free stroke and the importance of the improvisation and chord exercises in a students overall musical development.
There is an excellent introduction to free stroke describing where and why it is used, and the differences with rest stroke. There are pictures and written explanations on preparation for free stroke and correct and incorrect finger movements.
While many guitar teachers still disagree over the use of free and rest strokes in the early stages of learning (I start my pupils with free stroke) this book provides more information than is usual and so gives the pupil and teacher more choice. This introduction to free stroke is followed up by several exercises using chords in thirds and arpeggios helping the student to become familiar with the finger movements. The book then goes on to cover accidentals and key signatures, scales including the blues scale, ties, swing rhythm, dotted rhythms and 6/8 time signature.
Each new subject has clear written explanations, loads of pictures both amusing and technical, and plenty of exercises for practice. The section on playing fingers with thumb includes some very good open string exercises and even though it does move on to more difficult stretches, these are introduced in a way that makes them not seem so hard! The pieces at the end of the classical section are longer and more involved giving the student a real sense of progress and achievement. The chord supplement uses more involved strumming patterns, and introduces tablature.
The introduction to this volume explains that you are now moving on to more advanced repertoire and techniques, and what this entails e.g. regular practice and care in matters relating to technique and most importantly, commitment and performance!
The revision page is followed by a brief history of the guitar with photographs of instruments through the ages, and mention of important composers, players and makers right through tp the birth and rise of the electric guitar. I think that this is a great idea as it takes the learning process beyond just learning to play a few notes or chords on a guitar.
The subjects covered in book three include left hand positions up to seventh, articulation, more complicated rhythms and key signatures including minor keys, damping with the thumb and slurs. Most importantly the book includes a lot of music to play! There are excellent original pieces by Richard Corr along with classical repertoire, easy arrangements of more difficult works and popular tunes from all styles of guitar playing. The chord supplement introduces different chord styles and theory, something that a lot of students learning to play chords simply miss out on altogether.