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The How and the Tao of Folk Guitar, Vol. 1: Getting Started Paperback – June, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 103 pages
  • Publisher: Pik-Ware Publishing (June 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 097441901X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974419015
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

There is a difference between a folksinger and someone who sings folk songs.

To become a folksinger you must go beyond performing and actually live and share the music.

Patrick Costello is a folksinger.

Growing up in rural Chester County Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Philadelphia, Patrick Costello spent his formative years learning the language of music from seasoned musicians in places as diverse as "Dutch Country" cornfields and Philadelphia subway stations. Patrick was introduced to the banjo, old time music, the blues, fingerstyle guitar and much more by an army of old timers who just wanted to pass on the core skills of their craft.

As a musician, teacher and author Patrick is dedicated to sharing the spirit of folk music. He continues to pass on the legacy of sharing and fellowship that inspired him with friends, students and customers all over the world.

Patrick now resides in Crisfield, Maryland on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his fifth book. The How and the Tao of Folk Guitar Volume Two: Getting Good is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2005.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

If you ask five different guitar players what the term "folk guitar" means you are likely to get twenty different answers. When affordable acoustic guitars started becoming available in North America an amazing variety of music began developing almost overnight and to this day the process is still underway.

The musicians I knew when I was growing up were interested in playing everything. These guys shared their knowledge in fields of music that ran from Delta blues and early jazz to honky-tonk country or rock and roll. At first it seemed like all of these musical styles were different, and that playing something like the blues required a separate set of skills from playing classic country songs. The cool old dudes kept telling me that if I mastered the basic skills I would start to see how everything is connected. "It’s all music, kid." Was something I heard an awful lot back in those days. The only thing I head more than that was, "The only thing that matters is the rhythm!"

Over time I figured out why they were right. The more music I played and the more things I learned the clearer it became that I could use a handful of simple techniques to make the jump from one style or flavor to another. As a result when I help somebody get started on the guitar things seem to work better in the beginning if I simply share a handful of basic techniques. The student can then use these basic techniques or, in this case, you can use these techniques to make the music that you want to play.

The whole focus of Volume One is to get you playing and singing simple songs. By the end of this book you will be able to play and sing folk songs using basic fingerstyle and flatpick guitar techniques. You will start making music for and with your friends and family. If that’s all you ever decide to do I’m cool with that. I mean, if all you ever learn is three chords and a simple picking pattern you can play thousands (yes, thousands) of songs! Just wait until you see how many songs you can play with one-finger chords!

Folk music isn’t supposed to be complex. There is a degree of challenge in learning any instrument but it’s not like training for a heavyweight-boxing match. You don’t have to get up at four in the morning, drink a glass of raw eggs and punch a side of beef every day to become a good guitar player. All you really have to do is love playing the guitar. Take your time and enjoy the trip. Let your natural curiosity and creativity take over and steer you along your journey.

Like may grandfather used to say, "Work smarter, not harder."

I don’t expect you to be familiar with all the songs in this book. When I was just starting on the banjo, and later on the guitar, a big part of the fun was the fact that everything was brand new. In a lot of ways not having somebody around to tell me exactly how a song should be played gave me the freedom to come up with my own ideas. Most of these songs are very old but to a beginner they are brand spanking new. The other cool thing about these songs is that you will find yourself exploring the history of the music as you start to pick up additional lyrics. In some ways every good folksinger has to be an amateur historian.

If you do get stuck on the melody line of a song I suggest that you do what I did and go exploring. Find an old guitar player in your town. Bug the local radio station to play some folk music. Browse the Internet or just make something up. There is no right or wrong way. Just follow your heart.

All right, let’s get our gear together and start playing the guitar. We’ve got a lot of picking and singing to do.

More About the Author

Patrick Costello was born on March 25, 1970 in suburban Philadelphia. He learned to play the five-string banjo to win a bet with his father, and after winning the bet went on to teach himself the guitar.

Patrick is nearly deaf. He started losing his hearing as a child due to chronic ear infections. He worked around his hearing loss by resting his teeth on the upper bout of his guitar - which allowed his nerves to pick up the instrument through bone conduction. In recent years Patrick has had bone-anchored hearing aids surgically installed.

In 2010 Patrick married Amy, the love of his life. The ceremony was held on the steps of the Manassas courthouse - a site famous for the 1911 Jubilee of Peace, where Civil War veterans of both sides came together on the same ground in a ceremony of peace and reconciliation.
Patrick currently divides him time in Crisfield, Maryland and Manassas, Virginia. He loves his wife, making music with his Dear Old Dad and sharing his craft with students all over the world.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Carl Cravens on August 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has inspired me to play in a way that no other guitar book, DVD, or website has.

I played guitar in middle school and was never any good at it, and it was never fun. (Band was a required class, and guitar substituted for band. I took it because my dad bought me a guitar.)

Now, at age 39, I'm finding singing to and with my seven-year-old son a cappella difficult. Since my son is trying to learn the guitar, I decided to give it another try myself.

Now, with How and Tao, I'm having fun with the guitar.

A previous reviewer complained about the book teaching in an open tuning instead of the standard tuning. This is very much on purpose. It lets the student focus on learning right-hand technique and developing rhythm without worrying about left-hand chord changes. It was those chord changes that just drove me crazy in middle school and made learning not-fun.

If you know a few chords in standard tuning, don't let that discourage you from buying this book. It's not a step "backwards"... it's a focus on learning a different, but essential, skill. This book isn't about teaching chords, it's about teaching you how to play. Play, as in "have fun." So tune down to open G and dive in. (It gets into standard tuning about three-quarters of the way through the book.)

The approach is realistic. It moves slowly and he encourages you to really work at each step until you have it down, and not move on until you're really comfortable. In this book, and in his free materials online, he over and over encourages learning the fundamentals, because a solid core is what allows you the freedom to really play.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JT on May 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been playing near 19 years, mostly punk rock stuff. Now days sitting down with an acoustic guitar to play for my kids before bed. The songs are the classic folk songs we grew up with as kids, and the arrangements are easy enough that a complete novice can play them. I have been teaching my daughter how to play with this book, and she loves it.

I have been looking for good resources on playing in open g, and this is by far the best I have found. covers the basics of everything, and then comes the practice, practice, practice. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By encmonkey on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was looking for something to get me started in on the banjo and ran across Pat's videos on YouTube. From there I found his books (How and Tao and 5 Strings) and found both of them very well written and thought out. Pat's teaching/writing style is very laid back and well suited to encouraging a starting banjoist to practice practice practice. After only about half of the book and the dvd he put together, I started with a local teacher who was very surprised that I'd only been playing for a short time. I think Pat got me going on the very right foot, and I'm continuing working through the books and videos along with my local teacher. I can't recommend these enough to folks starting out.
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I liked this book, and think that I will learn a lot from it, but not being an "absolute" beginner, although I am by most people's standards, I am resistant to going to an different tuning.

So, I was dissapointed to see all of the advice aimed toward someone who has tuned their guitar to the "Open G" tuning. Unfortunatly I didn't see the recent review before I placed my order. It seems like there could at least be alternate instructions for folks who aren't going to switch over.
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