Musical Reinvention

While it’s become something of a seasonal check in for many members of the #introguitar gang, this week’s new semester of our school’s Introduction to Guitar 11 course prompts a call for new would-be open online participants to join a class that serves as a community of learners in real time. During each of the last few springs, the for-credit students in my and a few others’ guitar classes have documented and shared their musical development with an accompanying band of open learners who have lent their voices, instruments and inquiries to the online course community, creating a voluminous record of  personalized learning about guitar.

And we – that is to say all of us: students at our school, past and future online participants, visitors to the site in search of a tutorial or tab, and myself – want to share this journey with you. 

The act and craft of making music is an inherently social and communicative activity, requiring in its essence an imperative of sharing one’s discoveries with a community of peers and fellow students of a variety of instruments. In this way musicians are constantly moving between the roles of teachers and students, and this camaraderie can often be the fuel that sustains and compels the thousands of hours of practice and diligence necessary to improve as a player or performer. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or someone just setting out, there are invariably ways to challenge yourself and inspire others with an endless variety of different assignment prompts and opportunities.

That musical learning demands such a social commitment makes the Introduction to Guitar 11 course a natural opportunity to serve as an example of an online course which attempts to engage the best promise of the web to create a class where the community itself is the curriculum. Alan Levine, who has helped tremendously this year already by lending the new site its theme and slick post-displays for video and audio assignments, described the open appeal of #introguitar a few years ago now as

a place for his high school students and anyone else interested to post their recordings, videos, and writings about learning to play guitar. There is a loose curriculum, but open participants can jump in and out easily.

And a semantic distinction, it is not a class that teaches guitar but one where you can learn guitar.

Already people are sharing stories of their guitars, taking tracks recorded by one participant and layering their accompaniment on top.

How much easier could it be to open up a course?

It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue this semester, and one that we invite you to join us in in the coming weeks and months as we explore music and community together. If you would like to hear more about how you can participate and contribute to #introguitar, submit your information in this Google Form for us, and explore the site’s archived Course Introductions, Video Tutorials, or Asynchronous Jams (or a video tutorial about asynchronous jams).

Remember: There are no minimums, and no apologies for open-online learners. This includes documenting your learning about other instruments, or aspects of music that you are exploring: all are welcome!