Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TOS Review: Jean Welles Worship Guitar

It takes everything in me not to laugh out loud when people ask me if I'm afraid that homeschooling my children will limit their options.

Limit them? Hardly.

Sure, sure--if I depended completely on the talents and resources God has placed within our immediate family, I'd be limiting our course of instruction. There'd be tons of creative writing, some essay writing, then some writing in the 5W, inverted-pyramid style of newspapers. When we were done with that, we'd dabble in some history and some science. All before coming back for some great writing instruction, of course!

People who think that homeschoolers are confined simply to the set of skills that the parents possess are missing the beauty of an amazing array of curricula, online classes, community resources, tutors, mentors, instructional CD-Roms, apprenticeships, lessons, clubs, and--one of my favorites--DVD instruction. Homeschooling, as it turns out, is only limited by the creativity of the parent-facilitators responsible for identifying resources for their children.

Case in point: Two of my children--Jo and Logan--have asked to learn to play the guitar. The problem? I used to be able to methodically strum my way through a slow-motion version of the Monkees "Daydream Believer" a lifetime ago. And Mr. Blandings? Well, he's not much better ... only his songs of choice were "Stairway to Heaven" and a couple of early Beatles tunes.

Clearly, we're not imparting any great guitar knowledge on the next generation.

Thankfully, Jean Welles is.

The highly ironic thing about my reviewing this particular item is that I had actually ordered it prior to being asked to do the review. I had done my homework, compared programs, and settled on Jean Welles Worship Guitar DVD classes. I hit submit on the order, pleased to have found such an economical answer to a need. Then I found out I was on TOS's review list for the exact same product I had poured over for hours. As a matter of fact, my review copy arrived two days before the one I paid for. Go figure. With this as the background, I can actually say with full authority that I think this is the best product out there for teaching children the bare basics of playing guitar. :-)

Many, many people warned us against starting Jo (12) on guitar; They recommended several years of piano first. The same people also predicted dire results musically for Logan (7). I can happily say that so far, they've been wrong. While it's true that we had to buy a 3/4 size guitar for Logan to play, Jo has been able to handle her full-sized classical quite well. Not only that, they seem to be able to withstand the physical rigors of strings and whatnot without any trouble at all.

Using just the first DVD of Jean Welles' series, both children have had the guitar equivalent experience of using 100EZ lessons to jumpstart a hungry new reader: they dove in with both feet, were given just enough information to get them going, and within days were slowly picking their way through actual songs.

No, they can not read music. No, they are not getting music theory. That's not what they wanted. What they wanted was to be able to pick up a guitar and sing a couple of songs with their friends. This class is allowing them to do that.

In Volume 1 (book and dvd $29.95), Jean covers the parts of a guitar, the proper finger holds and techniques, and cajoles learners straight into the deep water of making music. The instant success is a huge ego-booster for any child, especially one already motivated to play. In the very first lesson, learners begin "He's Got The Whole World in His Hands." That kind of instant gratification keeps kids coming back for more!

Jean Welles offer a whole line of classes for younger children, for the drums, for violin, for adult learners, for streaming, and more. She is soft-spoken, encouraging, and lively in her instruction. Watching the DVD is anything but torture--it's a professional production through and through. You can even access an audio sample on her website here.

My kids are on their way to learning an instrument--and not one they could typically pick up in an elementary or middle school, either. Limited? Are you joking? Our lives are all the richer thanks to the high quality, engaging resources available for homeschools. Try fitting that kind of flexibility into a classroom education.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.


TexasHeather said...

sounds like a wonderful program, and what a great price! thanks for the excellent review!

Camille said...

Oh I SO agree with you...our children are not LIMITED at blessed we are! :)