There is no shortage of musical instruction companies that are using modern technology to help them in teaching the masses, but there are few that do it as completely and with such great success, all the while not exiling traditional instruction techniques in the process as TrueFire.
The first thing you should know about TrueFire is that if you’re the type of person who only wants a DVD, you’re going to be happy with TrueFire’s offerings as most are available on DVD. But if you’re the type of person that prefers to indulge themselves in modern technology made possible through computers, tablets, or smart phones, TrueFire is ALSO right up your alley. If you find yourself somewhere between the two camps, you’ll still love TrueFire.
The first thing you’ll notice as you look through their catalog of over 12,000 video lessons, is that they are focused on trying to mitigate buyer’s remorse as much as possible. Lesson samples include videos, often-lengthy explanations of the course’s materials, and how the instruction will be presented (as every instructor is a little different). As a result, you really get a feel for what the course you’re buying will be like instead of judging it based on the instructor’s reputation (or a worse way to judge: their looks) or DVD cover like you may in a store.
The second thing that sets TrueFire apart is that there are usually two packages you can buy from them: one being a download-only option where there is no physical media sent to you(at a lower cost as there is no physical material to print and ship to you), and one where physical media IS sent to you at a higher cost.
Personally, I think there’s no reason to buy the physical media and have it shipped to you. TrueFire encourages you to burn a data DVD with the materials on it so it never gets lost, even if your computer’s hard drive crashes. I took it one step further and copied it into my Dropbox account so I can access any part of it from any tablet or smart phone in the world (so long as I have an Internet connection). This includes PDFs and TAB in a variety of formats, jam tracks, and the videos themselves, basically offering me the entirety of the course on my small iPhone screen, which may be the most handy thing possible for long trips away since there are no books or DVDs to keep track of and Dropbox keeps everything in the cloud, always accessible.
But this is just the traditional video-type lessons. True Fire has more than that. They have online workshops, interactive video lessons, TrueFire TV (where you can see the interactive video lessons in a streaming format), online classrooms where you get “face to face” instruction that really is one on one. If that isn’t enough, they also have apps designed for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that range from the free Guitar Lab app (which contains various mini-lessons from various courses) to the more specific apps that focus on a specific course (like “50 Blues Guitar Licks”). They all come with videos and other needed learning materials.
As far as the instructional quality goes, TrueFire offers all the video angles to help eliminate any confusion, and everything is slowed down and easy to follow. The course’s chapters are easy to navigate, you never feel lost, and (most importantly) there’s not a lot of wasted time when it comes to getting to where you need to go so you can get start learning right now. Additionally, when you’re looking at potential lessons to buy, they all feature extensive “About Your Instructor” sections that explain who they are and why they’re an authority on the subject. There are also potential comments and/or reviews on the courses so you can see what other players thought of it.
One of the best things about TrueFire is that they are so committed to a pleasant user experience that anyone can sign up for the free Student Plan and get 30 days of access to the full site (and “other great perks,” which in my case meant 10 free dollars in credits that happened to coincide with a lesson sale, so I was able to pick up a full lesson for free) so you can take your time, poke around, see what the courses have to offer and then, if you want to, sign up for a paid plan which starts at $15.00 a month.
A friend of mine suggested that I look into TrueFire for a review and told me his Dropbox method of storing the lessons since he goes on the road a lot. He said that the customer service folks are very nice to work with, and that he thinks $15.00 a month is a steal considering that he has access to so much and $15.00 wouldn’t get you nearly as much with a real-world instructor. He’s got a really good point there. $15.00 of music-store instruction wouldn’t begin to cover what you would get for the same money from TrueFire.
Their library is immense and I was able to find several video lessons that I wanted to purchase in the future (they have a beginner’s bluegrass lesson, for instance, that has 175 minutes of video, text commentary, standard notation as well as TAB in both Power Tab and Guitar Pro, and jam tracks that covers all sorts of chords and techniques, culminating in SIX full songs to learn).
In this day and age traditional video lessons on DVD are great, but they have limits – limits that are all but blown away by online offerings, but rarely do online companies offer their perks in such an up-front and easily-navigated format. If you’re looking to learn new things, or in a new way, you should look at TrueFire and sign up for their free student plan to see what it’s all about. I was nothing short of impressed and I bet you will be as well.
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