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Fender Play doesn't judge -- it just teaches you guitar

Fender Play doesn't judge -- it just teaches you guitar
From Engadget - July 6, 2017

The latest effort is Fender Play, a digital lesson platform designed to keep younger would-be guitarists coming back day after day, year after year. The company's research suggests it's not hard to attract new players, but it's extremely difficult to keep them tied to the instrument for the rest of their lives. In fact, Kaplan says 95 percent of players give up in the first year. Most do not even make it past the first three months. Play has been designed, then, not only to be simple, but to cater do an increasingly diverse playerbase, delivering relatively quick gratification.

Unlike other music instructional standbys like Mel Bay, Play does not spend a ton of time early on teaching theory or how to read notation. Instead, once you have got the bare essentials down (how to tune your guitar, identify and strum the strings, etc.), it immediately starts teaching you a song. And we are not talking about "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Play focuses on hits from the likes of Bon Iver, the Rolling Stones, Brad Paisley, Sean Mendes, the National and -- yes -- even Disney. Fender pairs lessons on technique and theory with each track, but the explicit goal is to learn the song of your choice, not to master the pentatonic scale.

Instead of funneling every student down the same path, Fender tries to personalize the experience as best as it can. When you first fire it up, you are asked to choose a path -- rock, pop, country, blues or folk. (Do not worryyou can pursue multiple paths or change paths at any time.) You are also asked if you are playing acoustic or electric, and based on these choices you will get different instructional videos, different song choices and learn different techniques. If you are learning country on an acoustic, you might get early lessons on finger-picking. If you go with rock, you will focus on power chords and learn a Foo Fighters song.

This flexible approach is core to Play's mission. Kaplan says it's not Fender's place to judge anyone's musical taste, and goes out of his way to make it clear that the company does not believe everyone has "to be a rock-guitar god. "It does not matter if you are playing it with a pick, a bow, an Ebow, a hammer. ... We do not just represent virtuosity," he says.

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