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The Guitarist's Link to Sight Reading Review by Camilla Anderson

Jerry Jennings
J. Jennings Publishing Company
5012 Kahn Street
Carmichael, CA 95608

This 64-page soft cover book was written to help any guitarist become better at reading music and therefore be able to play more skillfully. The book includes 12 lessons, and the accompanying CD has 25 corresponding tracks. The course begins with a quick and effective lesson on note naming and note values. Then it moves on to the reading and playing of individual music notes, while teaching music theory (key signatures, chords, scales) at the same time. The CD tracks include verbal instructions, samples of exercises, background tracks without the melody (student plays the melody), and background tracks with the melody. Also included on the CD are four metronome tracks to help the student practice the exercises with precise timing, increasing the speed as skill develops. The back of the book includes helpful chord charts and music theory charts.

My son is a "blooming" guitarist. He is 14 and has been playing (or trying to play) for about two years. We have sampled several books and DVD guitar courses. So far, this has been the easiest to understand and use. Mr. Jenkins is a fine teacher. His written instructions are very clear, and the exercises in the book are organized perfectly. His verbal instructions and all other tracks on the CD could not be clearer or easier to use. If my son works his way through this book, which he will probably do as soon as he has the time, his skills will improve immensely--and quickly.

It seems to me that it would be most helpful if the student using this book has at least some prior background in guitar playing (knows how to play some chords). It would be even more helpful if the student has had some prior experience with note reading and/or music theory. But I still think this book would work for the beginner. This book teaches the student how to play by note, not by chord. However, it shows how the notes are a breakdown of specific chords, so in the end the student is able to tie chord-playing and note-playing together. The book encourages students to keep their eyes on the book, not their fingers, building accuracy and speed.

If you are looking for a guitar course that will help you improve your skills and your knowledge of music, this is the one I would recommend to you. At $19.95 retail, it is a great value and a high-quality product. You will definitely get your money's worth.

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009