Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Worship Guitar Class

A year or two ago, my son expressed that he would like to learn to play guitar. While I try to honor such requests when presented, guitar lessons were neither in our schedule nor budget. Music education was being covered through private piano lessons already. I put the request off, with a promise that I would consider it for the future.

About six months ago, a grandparent gifted my son with an electric guitar for his birthday. After a few rounds on the electric guitar it was apparent that not only did interest remain, but that lessons were certainly in order if our ears were ever to be safe again. Since the original request, piano lessons had been stopped temporarily for budget reasons. I had already been tossing around the idea of starting guitar instead when the budget allowed again.

Needless to say, when Worship Guitar Class on DVD arrived for review, I had a very willing test subject. Worship Guitar is the creation of Jean Welles, who has a master's degree in Guitar Performance from USC. There are four volumes of the course available, as well as a version for younger kids. I received Volume One, intended for ages 10 and up. A small booklet with the songs is included with the DVDS. A larger 16-page student book, also provided for review, covers the material from the lessons and the musical notations for the songs used.

The DVD starts with an explanation of the parts of the guitar and how to tune your instrument. After this introduction, students are ready to start the first of the seven lessons included on the DVD. Lesson one teaches two chords, A and E7. At the end of the lesson, Jean Welles leads in playing He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. A dozen chords, seven worship songs, and a half dozen strums and picking patterns are taught over the course of the seven lesson. Each lesson lasts for about 3-5 minutes. There is also a practice section that covers the songs more slowly than during the lessons. The DVD includes the option of Spanish subtitles with each lesson.

The video below will give you an overview of the complete 4-volume program.

The first lesson for Volume One is also available for viewing.

Our Experience

Welles appears to be a very patient teacher. Her voice is calming and her focus is praise and worship through playing music. She has a professional presentation and a lovely voice.

I liked that the lessons were short, which was beneficial to my son. Only having two chords to practice after the first lesson was manageable and allowed for obtainable progress. I could tell immediately that it was going to take some time to get the finger muscles trained before playing cords would not be awkward.

The added benefit of learning at home is not having to be on a teacher's time schedule. Some lessons are going to require more practice than others. One of the difficulties we ran into with private piano lessons was getting suitable practice in when schedules became hectic, resulting in children not being prepared for the next lesson. The simplicity and clear instruction of Worship Guitar Class makes learning together at home possible.


Instrument Availability

I wanted to have my son learn on an acoustic guitar, rather than his electric, so we borrowed a guitar from a friend. Unfortunately, my son only completed one lesson before that guitar needed to be returned. We borrowed a second guitar, but I had difficulty tuning it. I'm unsure if it was the instrument or user error, but it was an added complication to inexperienced playing. In the end, it was decided that the electric guitar we already owned was easier for practicing the chords and sounded better for now.

While a top-of-the-line guitar isn't necessary for a beginner, I might be beneficial to borrow or rent a quality instrument if possible, especially it you think your child will have a lasting interest. It will make the initial learning experience more enjoyable. Lesson and guitar packages are available at the Worship Guitar website if you are ready to make the initial investment. Welles also makes recommendations of starter guitars.

Hand Dominance

Another consideration is hand dominance. Guitar instruction is further indication that it is a right-hand world out there. As a lefty who wanted to learn along with my son, I had the additional obstacle of feeling like I was doing everything backwards. After a little practice, it felt a bit more natural. While this won't be an issue for most, I thought it might be worth mentioning if you have a lefty in the house. I didn't even consider it until I picked up my son's guitar and realized it was upside-down! Left-handed guitars are available, but many lefties simply learn to play right-handed.


This is a Christian course and the focus of this course is on praising and worshiping God while learning guitar. While that is rather evident in the name of the course and suits my family just fine, it may not be the best choice for completely secular users.


Overall, I think the DVDs are an excellent and affordable way to get started playing guitar. The cost of each DVD and student book package isn't much more than one 30-minute private lesson in our area. Lessons are simple and can be played over and over again, allowing students to progress at their own pace and timetable. Furthermore, I like that there is no traveling involved and we can easily learn together. A total of 28 songs, 60 chords and 30 strumming and finger picking patterns are taught over the course of the four volumes, for a great head start in playing guitar. If you or your child are interest in learning guitar, this DVD series may be a great way to gauge lasting interest and learn the basics before investing in expensive private lessons.

No extra licensing is needed to use these DVDs in a group setting and Welles encourages them to be used in this manner. It is obvious that she enjoys teaching and uses her talents as a ministry.

Single volumes of Worship Guitar Class are $29.95 and come with a 1-year money-back guarantee. This price includes the student book, which is also available separately for $5.95. There are various discount packages available, including those with guitars. The Worship Guitar Class on DVD can be purchased from the Worship Guitar website or at select retail and music stores.

Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew's blog to read more reviews on this product and others.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew, a team of 100+ homeschooling parents. While the product was provided at no expense to me in order to provide this review, I have not received any other compensation. Furthermore, receipt of the product does not guarantee a positive review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

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