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Guitar Magic Evolution Review by April Elstrom

Spring of Knowledge, Inc.
PO Box 11171
Prescott, AZ 86304

I am not a guitar player. I've never even tried to learn guitar. But my daughter wanted to learn. She spent hours scouring the internet for free tutorials and simple chorded music she could print. It was time-consuming and frustrating when she couldn't find the help she needed. What were tabs? How could she learn them? Not with my help.

Guitar Magic Evolution is a software program with a library full of visual tutorials for the acoustic or electric guitar. There is so much information in this software that it initially overwhelmed my daughter. It includes countless hours of visual lessons in the following categories:

  • Fretboard Elements
  • Core Exercises and Scales
  • Music Theory
  • Chords and Arpeggios
  • Picking
  • Music Reading
  • Musical Examples and Demonstrations

Guitar Magic Evolution is compatible with Windows 7, XP and Vista. (Mac users must have Parallels Desktop software in order to use Guitar Magic Evolution). After the software is installed on your computer, you will need to enter an activation key before you can use it. This was a simple process, and we had no difficulty installing it. Since we had not purchased the software ourselves, we had to contact the company in order to get the activation key. They were helpful and quick with their reply.

The software includes a Road Map and User Guide to help a new user understand the program as well as the best way to travel through the lessons. We found the User Guide to be essential for figuring out the software and referred back to it frequently at first. The lessons can be used in the recommended order, or you can view the library of lessons and select the one that interests you at that moment. Lessons can be added to a Favorites list so they can be easily found in the future. To choose a lesson, you can either click on the Home or Library tabs. From there, you choose a category, and then a sub-category, and finally a specific lesson. Once the lesson screen opens, there are even more ways to customize the lesson and view different guitar notes, keys, and chords. When you are viewing a lesson, you can choose whether to have one, two, or zero fretboards displayed above the lesson. You can also turn on or off the musical notations beneath the fretboard.

The lessons are shown on a computer-generated fretboard, with a recorded voice offering instruction. The lessons and examples can be slowed down, sped up, repeated, or even paused. Some children may miss the human element of seeing a face or even hands on an actual guitar, but others will do well with this format. The ability to change the pace of the demonstrations allows you to start slowly and then increase the speed and difficulty as you figure out the chord or scale. You can set the scales to repeat and play it as often as you'd like to practice that particular scale.

Guitar Magic Evolution also gives the student the ability to schedule how long they want to practice each week and to track how long they have practiced in individual sessions. It is set to track time in 15 minute segments, so a guitar student would practice for 15, 30, or 45 minutes at a time. This is perfect for students who are counting their guitar lessons as part of their high school curriculum.

One frustration we had was that this software does not come with a text user's manual or searchable help function. There were times we wanted to be able to click on help and search through Frequently Asked Questions or an organized set of help instructions, but we couldn't. We had to return to the visual User's Guide in the Road Map to find answers to our questions, which meant re-watching one of the six walk-through videos. Also, there also does not seem to be a way to record where you are in the lessons. There isn't a checklist to mark them off as you complete them, so you will need to keep a separate list of lessons you've completed. This could be done in a notebook or in a file on the computer. This does have a benefit, though, as it makes it easier for multiple people to use the software at the same time.

We have barely scratched the surface of this software. It has an amazing amount of information, though there is definitely a learning curve involved in learning how to utilize the program. Some teens may initially struggle to figure it out or feel overwhelmed with the variety of lessons. They may need a parent to sit down with them and help them, showing them all the features that can be adjusted in the settings. For those who find it overwhelming, it may be best to simply move through the lessons sequentially.

I would definitely not recommend this product for anyone under the age of 13. It was initially confusing to my 15-year-old, who considers herself computer-savvy. It would definitely be too complicated for my 11-year-old. I also would not recommend purchasing this unless your child had already shown a strong interest and commitment to learning how to play the guitar. It is a well-spring of knowledge, as the company name proclaims, but it is also expensive for someone who only wants to try out the guitar. Thankfully, the program can be used with multiple people in a family, which makes it more cost-effective.

Guitar Magic Evolution is an incredible software program for teens or adults who are serious about learning how to play the guitar and understanding music theory. It is especially helpful for those who don't have access to guitar lessons or those who want to have unlimited access to a virtual tutor.

Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2011