Mail From Far Away

It’s always fun to get fan mail, especially from somewhere far away. I received the following email this morning, from a guitarist in Wales, that really sparked my imagination. Thanks for writing, Chris!

Map of UKHi Rob,

My name is Christopher Wood, 57yrs and live in Wales, in the Uk. Just come across your site and wanted to congratulate you on the same and to say that your approach to the simple guitar playing folk in this world, who struggle to progress with their music, has inspired me to make that effort and attempt to improve after 30 years of being content with a very mediocre standard of playing, and never practising.

It was my interest in Gordon Lightfoot that brought me to your site. So I hope I may get to play some of his songs at our local folk/singing club. It may also be that at last I will get to grips with ‘tablature’, something I have steered away from all this time!

Anyway, I hope all is well with you all those miles away. Should you ever get to look at a map of the UK, have a look for a place called Aberdaron, in the county of Gwynedd, in North Wales. I live at the end of the Llyn Peninsular in a little village…UWCHMYNYDD…its taken me twelve years to learn that one, being an Englishman in a strong Welsh

All my very best wishes, and thank you for firing up my enthusiasm.

Take care
Chris Wood.

Comments 7

  1. Hi Rob, I only just found your blog the other day and I’m from Scotland also in the same age group as Chris and picked up my guitar after several years and your blog is a revelation-especially the nanochords!
    I have been trying to work out the accompaniment for ‘Love Letters’ originally by Ketty Lester, but there are some really weird chords in there and have not had a lot of success with it.
    I wonder if you cn work out something a little easier for it,for another born-again guitarist?
    Will be most grateful if you can ,keep up the good work and all the best,John.

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for writing! I’m usually too busy getting music ready for my students to take requests, but I took a quick listen to “Love Letters”–it’s in the key of Bb, so using a capo on 3rd fret would keep most of the barre chords at bay (if you don’t like them). If you capo 3, play chords in the key of G, using G, Am, Bm C, D, Em, and F#7. I think there’s also a C#diminished chord in there, but don’t quote me on that. All these chords are relative to the capo, of course.

    Good luck, and thanks for your kind words.

  3. Hi Rob,I must thank you very much for replying so quickly.I didn’t mean to make a request,so please excuse me but this song has bugged me for so long now and I kept forgetting all the chords for it.Your lessons are a true revelation as I am here at the pc half past twelve at night with the guitar on my knee ‘jamming’ with Pink Floyd, so you have given me so much to be grateful for.I paid for an online course last year but it had nothing on this!This is great!
    I now have the stimulation to re-learn everything again and play some old favourites,especially the Beatles numbers.
    Look after yourself,Rob and Thank You Very Much, John.

  4. Not quite as old as the other 2 fellas in the ‘mail from far away’ section (however it must be said that I am no spring chook) but I am equally as impressed with your blog. I enjoyed the strumming 101 lesson and the comments posted they made me feel heaps better. I have been playing bodhran (yes I do know all the jokes) for many many years and as a consequence of the playing action have a really difficult time with strumming from the elbow. The drum is played with your strumming hand with a tiddler or your fingers and requires a very loose wrist action with good control to get offbeats and other goodies happening. Am battling thru the folk strum pattern using elbow action and take some solace from the comments that wrist action is at times acceptable (the folk strum pattern is a doddle with wrist for me)… but I am struggling on and getting better with practice.

    This message is intended for your “from afar” section as I am writing from Darwin Australia, reputed to be the most isolated city in the world. We finally got a train line recently which means that in the monsoon season we now have a link with the rest of Australia apart from flying… the highway gets flooded out for weeks on end every year. Darwin is way up in the Tropics and we don’t have seasons, just build-up, wet, run-off and dry. I loved the flower pic in the snow, it reminded me how pathetic I have become with the cold. We have just begun the dry season (great season) but last night it got down to 22 degrees C (about 70 degrees F) and we froze, had to dig some jumpers out of storage. Our young son kept asking what was wrong and why was the aircon outside the house was so cold. We are used to high humidity and temps not moving far from 90 – 100 F day and night for months at a time… 70F at the moment is cold but worse is a trip into a cold room which seems a bit like Artic exploration.

    Still the weather gives us plenty of excuse to slack off and play guitar…. thanks again the posts, your lessons reminded me that learning should be fun.


  5. Any tips on tabs verses musical notation. My son is doing Rock school exams in bass guitar over here in England and is not required to learn anything but tabs. Will this ever disadvantage him -or are tabs the way to progress nowdays.

  6. Good question, popsypops. Learning how to read traditional musical notation has many advantages. It helps with understanding music theory, and gives you a common language with other musicians.

    Those benifits must be weighed against the main drawback–it’s really hard to learn how to read! Tablature, in comparison, is a cinch.

    I believe in hooking my stundents with tablature, then, if they want to go on to learn musical notation later to play in jazz band or whatever, I teach it to them–when they’re HUNGRY for it!

  7. Thats a good idea. Personally i like to work with both on the page in order to read a line of melody. As soon as the notes leave the stave I’m straight onto the tabs!
    Have just started a guitar class (intermediate) which is such fun. The teacher is an inspiration and keeps breaking out into song and we all join in, great fun. Really recommend classes. This one is going to be all strumming /finger picking using tabs in contrast to the last which was all notation classical, with a huge drop out rate as people did find it so hard.

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