The best way for a child (or anyone) to learn the guitar is through a music teacher. But what if you don’t have the money to hire one?
eMedia created a software in order to simulate a real guitar course specifically designed for kids. It’s called “My Guitar”. And its price is just $29.95.
Curious about the quality of the software, I decided to test it and share with you my opinion about it.
Is the method well-adapted for kids? Is there enough content to learn? Let’s answer all the questions you might have.
1. Installation time
The installation was done smoothly and pretty quickly. Good news is that I didn’t encounter any issue. And the software started almost immediately after clicking on it.
After that, it should ask you right away to put the serial number received from eMedia and offer you to register the product – you can even win a free guitar.
After the registration, you’ll arrive on a “Welcome” page where a guitar named “Gary” starts to speak.
Note: Apparently, if you buy “My Guitar” on Amazon, there’s a chance that you won’t obtain a serial number with the software. If that ever happens to you, you need to reach out to the support team and raise a ticket.
Don’t take my word for it though. It’s possible that eMedia solved the issue.
2. First impressions
Gary’s voice is pleasant and friendly – perfect for a child.
The colors are bright and agreeable. It is clear that efforts have been made to make the software enjoyable and easy to use.
So overall, my first impressions of “My Guitar” are rather strong. Let’s continue.
After clicking on the right arrow at the bottom-right corner of the screen, you’ll arrive on a page on how to use “My Guitar”, and an explanation on the buttons you will encounter, with a quick demo of every function.
I experienced the first crash of the software as I pressed the first button. It showed me an error that the “handler is not defined”, and I had to restart the software.
After re-launching the program, I found out that it got back to where I was before it crashed. Well, at least, I didn’t lose time searching for the lesson.
As I clicked on the video button, I got my first encounter with Kevin Garry, the instructor, playing “House Of The Rising Sun”.
The video is not in HD. It looks professional BUT it’s pixelated. Moreover, you can’t put the video in full-screen mode directly from the window. You have to go to “Options” at the top of the screen, and then click on “Full Screen”.
The second button is to play audio. It plays immediately and the quality of the sound is decent.
The third button is to play a MIDI track. You can speed it up or slow it down. That’s pretty helpful for a beginner.
You can also click on chord charts to play a chord. This way, you are able to compare it to the sound of your own guitar.
Gary the guitar speaks automatically when you arrive on a new lesson. If you decide to go back to a previous lesson, he will remain silent. However, if you move forward again, he will speak. And if you want to make him repeat what he just said, you can just click on him.
3. Design and animation
Illustrations are clear and the page layout is fresh with bright colors. Some characters – like Gary the guitar – and objects are even animated.
To add even more fun, there are games you can play where you have to strike a specific string or chord. You need a microphone for those games. Your performance will be rated out of five stars at the end of the game.
The games are not hard, and they are a great idea for children to stay motivated throughout the course.
4. Course content
The focus of the method is on chords. That’s also a great choice from eMedia as children are more likely to remember chords than a succession of notes. Moreover, they will be able to sing the songs after learning them.
However, at the end of the course, kids will be introduced to tablatures and easy melodies to play.
The course is not long: 62 lessons in total (including games and songs). But for 30 dollars, I didn’t expect it any longer.
What about the songs? Are they adapted for kids? Yes, they are. You will get traditional songs like “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells”, and many others. In other words, catchy tunes.
They are played slowly, and therefore, easy to follow. Every time there’s a lesson on a song, you will get an audio, and a MIDI track that you can speed up or slow down depending on what you need.
Instant feedback is integrated for the last lessons where you have to play melodies.
Basically, if you have a microphone and play the required melody in front of the computer, the software will catch what you’re playing and tell you if you played the notes right or wrong. If the note is right, it will be highlighted in green. If wrong, it will be in red.
The only issue is that… it’s not very accurate. And if you have background noise, you’re in for trouble my friend, depending on the sensitivity of your microphone.
However, you can change the interactive feedback sensitivity in “Options” > “Preferences”. There are three options that you can choose:
- Microphone with high background noise
- Microphone with low background noise
- Direct connection with guitar.
Yes, you can also decide to connect your guitar to your computer. If you have an electric guitar, that’s the recommended option for you.
In the preferences, you can change the color of the highlighted or selected notes on a tab. You will also be able to set the recording quality to low or medium, if you don’t have much space on your hard drive.
Among the settings that you can modify are the fretboard tracking preferences. Whenever you’ll play an audio or MIDI track, the animated fretboard will show up. If the notes are not synchronized with the fingerboard, you can modify the preferences here.
Speaking of the animated fretboard… if you’re left-handed, you will be able to revert the fingerboard. You can also put it upside-down, if you prefer to see it that way.
Know that if you’re lost or, if you want to have a clear view of all the lessons, you can click on “Goto” and then “Contents”. The Table of Contents will then appear, showing you all the lessons divided into four chapters. Then, by clicking on a specific lesson, you will arrive to the one that you chose.
There’s another way to see all the lessons in the right order: “Goto”, then “Lesson…”. You will see this window appear:
I personally prefer the table of contents as I can see almost everything at once.
Note that you can also see the list of songs and techniques by clicking on “Goto” .
Alright. Let’s see the tools now.
8.1 Automatic Guitar Tuner
If you know eMedia and you’re familiar with their guitar Toolkit, then you’ll recognize some tools that come with the guitar method software. The first tool is the Automatic Guitar Tuner. With the help of the microphone on your PC (or external microphone), you can adjust the pitch of the six strings of your guitar.
Note that you can also click on the notes, and it will produce a sound. You can then turn the tuning pegs on your guitar to match the sound you’ve heard on your computer.
Pretty simple to use, as you can see. The only issue is that… it’s too basic. If you want to tune your guitar to a “Drop D” tuning, you can’t. You’ll have to do it using another software or hardware. Or by yourself.
You also can’t change the frequency. If you’ve listened to old tunes, and you try to play them, you may have noticed that they sound a bit differently. That’s because the frequency they used to tune their instrument was different back then.
So if you want to get the same frequency they were using, well… you’ll have to find another way. You cannot do it here. That’s not a big issue for a beginner, it’s however a bit of a shame.
The metronome is also quite simple. You can adjust the tempo from 40 to 180 BPM, which is a pretty large range, and I doubt that you’d ever need a slower or faster tempo than what they offer.
You can also decide to stop the audible tick and / or hide the visible tick. You won’t be able to change the sound of the tick if you don’t like it, but I didn’t find it annoying at all – and my ears are quite sensitive.
Another tool you’ll get with the guitar method is the recorder. Keep in mind that it’s not Cubase nor Pro Tools: you won’t be able to mix your audio and make professional records with this little recorder, but you’ll be able to record what you’ve learned during the course, which is very useful to compare your recordings to the original audio tracks within the lessons.
You also have the option to save the audio, and load what you’ve recorded before. The format is *.wav, which is the Waveform Audio File Format. It’s not a lossless audio format, but the quality you’ll get – if you use a good quality microphone – is decent. Again, the goal here is essentially record what you’ve learned, and track your progress.
8.4 Finger tracker
The finger tracker tool displays the same fingerboard as the “Animated Fretboard” option. The only difference is that it will try to perceive the notes caught by your microphone, and show them on the fingerboard. If they don’t appear on the fretboard correctly, or if nothings shows up, that’s probably due to your audio configuration.
8.5 Chord dictionary
Finally, the best tool you’ll ever need is the chord dictionary. All the most common chords are listed here, and simply by clicking on a chord, you will see how it is played on the guitar with a chord diagram. The main regret here is that if you’re looking for the name of one specific chord but you can’t remember it, you’ll have to search through the whole catalog, or – the best option – use internet to find it.
The help section can be accessed by clicking on “Help” at the top of the screen and then “My Guitar Help…”.
You will then arrive on this page:
It’s not a beautiful page, true. But everything is listed here, whether you need advice on how to use the software, where you can find a specific option, etc.
My favorite part is the glossary. The musical terms used in “My Guitar” are explained in this section, which avoids searching the words in a dictionary or anywhere on the web.
Note that you can also require assistance on eMedia’s website. The support team is quite receptive and will answer your question(s) promptly.
Overall, I was pleased with the software. It’s friendly, fun, and it’s got good quality content. The course is quite short, but the price is low.
The design is well-suited for kids, Gary the guitar explains everything in a pleasant tone, and I felt excited practicing the songs – even as an experienced guitar player.
Would I recommend “eMedia My Guitar” to a kid who wants to learn the guitar from scratch?