Homespun Tapes

By Ronnie Dee

There are actually people who write songs who do not play an instrument. I don't know how they do it, but it would be a whole lot easier for them if they would learn to play, for example, the guitar or piano. You do not have to play well to assist your songwriting efforts and it is not that difficult to learn. "Homespun Tapes" could be your answer.

Homespun Tapes is a modestly renowned music instruction company that should be widely heralded. Headed by Happy Traum, Homespun is in its twenty-fourth year of teaching and marching on.

This is an unabashed, unsolicited endorsement of the Woodstock, N.Y.-based company that teaches everything from beginning guitar to dawg mandolin to jazz piano to blues harmonica to building a MIDI music system. Most lessons come on audio tapes and some are also on video. It is a great way to learn how to play an instrument.

The list of instructors speaks for itself: Chet Atkins, Lonnie Mack, Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Mark O'Connor, Bela Fleck, Dr. John, John McCutcheon, John Sebastian, Mike Seeger, Livingston Taylor, Rory Block, Dan Crary, Jean Ritchie, Paul Butterfield, et al. Why not learn from the best?

There are different levels to suit your current abilities starting with Level 1, Beginner. If you know the basics, you can step up to Level 2, Easy Intermediate. Level 3, Intermediate, is next, and finally, Level 4, Advanced Intermediate.

Let's take it from the beginning with "Guitar For Beginners," Level 1. This consists of six tapes lasting 30 minutes or so each. Tape 1, Introduction to the Guitar; Tuning Up; Basic Strums. Tape 2, More Chords; Basic Finger-Style Strums and Arpeggios. Tape 3, Cowboy Strum; Chord Progressions. Tape 4, More Chords; Chord Theory; Carter Family Strums; Transposing the C Scale. Tape 5, Hammering On; Bluegrass Ending; More Songs. Tape 6, Blues Strum; Damping; Calypso; Fingerpicking Pattern.

They also have a series entitled "The Homespun Songwriter's Workshop." This series is taught by Pat Alger, Fred Koller, Steve Gillette ("Back On the Street Again" and "Darcey Farrow"), Eric Kaz ("Hearts On Fire"), and John D. Loudermilk.

Besides teaching almost every popular stringed instrument you can name, there is a series called: "A Beginner's Guide to Music History, Theory, and Structure." One is on learning and developing musical skills and there is even one on ear training for instrumentalists. You can learn to yodel, sing harmony or play the pennywhistle.

Each tape contains patient explanations and sample songs with which to play along. A tablature sheet is provided with each tape to help you follow the instructions. The tapes are approximately $14.95 each or the series of six for $69.95. You don't have to leave home for lessons, and you can do them at your own chosen speed.

For an interesting catalogue write: Homespun Tapes, Ltd., Box 694, Woodstock, N.Y. 12498, and you can be the life of the party in no time at all!