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. "Its 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 thats all you ever decide to do Im 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 isnt supposed to be complex. There is a degree of challenge in learning any instrument but its not like training for a heavyweight-boxing match. You dont 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 dont 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, lets get our gear together and start playing the guitar. Weve got a lot of picking and singing to do.