The Electric Guitar, A Journey

Who hasn’t wanted to be a rock star, join a band or play electric guitar? Music resonates, moves and inspires us. Strummed through the fingers of The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White, somehow it does more. Such is the premise of It Might Get Loud, a new documentary conceived by producer Thomas Tull.

It Might Get Loud isn’t like any other rock’n roll documentary. Filmed through the eyes of three virtuosos from three different generations, audiences get up close and personal, discovering how a furniture upholsterer from Detroit, a studio musician and painter from London and a seventeen-year-old Dublin schoolboy, each used the electric guitar to develop their unique sound and rise to the pantheon of superstar. Rare discussions are provoked as we travel with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White to influential locations of their pasts. Born from the experience is intimate access to the creative genesis of each legend, such as Link Wray’s “Rumble’s” searing impression upon Jimmy Page, who surprises audiences with an impromptu air guitar performance. But that’s only the beginning.

While each guitarist describes his own musical rebellion, a rock’n roll summit is being arranged. Set on an empty soundstage, the musicians come together, crank up the amps and play. They also share their influences, swap stories, and teach each other songs. During the summit Page’s double-neck guitar, The Edge’s array of effects pedals and White’s new mic, custom built into his guitar, go live. The musical journey is joined by visual grandeur too. We see the stone halls of Headley Grange where “Stairway to Heaven” was composed, visit a haunting Tennessee farmhouse where Jack White writes a song on-camera, and eavesdrop inside the dimly lit Dublin studio where The Edge lays down initial guitar tracks for U2’s forthcoming single. The images, like the stories, will linger in the mind long after the reverb fades.

It Might Get Loud might not affect how you play guitar, but it will change how you listen. The film is directed and produced by An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim, and produced by Thomas Tull, Lesley Chilcott and Peter Afterman.

Learning to Play the Electric Guitar as a Child

The Journey of the Electric Guitar is a brilliant look at the instrument that changed modern Rock and Roll.  It’s history is literally the history of Classic Rock, Grunge Rock and the more recent “Alternative” music genre’s.  Without it we would be decades behind the musical progressions and evolution we have seen in recent decades.

This being said, the most important aspect of our musical evolution as a society is getting children involved in music.  In this regard, getting a kid interested in guitar (or any other musical instrument) at a young age is probably the most crucial factor for our musical future.

Teachers, parents and musicians have known this for decades.  Child music programs in schools have been part of our educational tradition since before most of us have been alive, but sadly they are starting to decline in number.  The rise of the Internet has helped to stave off this issue a bit, with the rise of online guitar lessons and other forms of internet-based music education and practice resources, kids are able to undertake the learning of an instrument without the extra overhead of traveling to appointments with instructors.  For parents, these methods also provide an extra cost incentive as well (online lessons are generally less expensive than in-person lessons).

But what do we do when the parents themselves are ignorant of the importance of music education?  This is a real problem, especially when the parents themselves aren’t musically inclined.  For this problem the only real solution is the continued presence of music programs in schools throughout the country.  If parents don’t or won’t push music onto their kids, then at least there will be programs in schools that will provide an avenue for approach.

While I didn’t end up pursuing music until I was in high school and College, I was part of music programs since the 4th grade.  My school music teacher, Mr. Levi, wouldn’t let me quit.  He was an extremely brilliant man, player of pretty much every instrument, and his expertise influenced hundreds and thousands of kids, me included, over the years.  This type of invaluable resource (and support structure!) is what is at stake when we cut music programs in school.

Given the most advanced technological generation of our lives in now with us, with smart phones and iPads and free information for all, there really shouldn’t be a reason for music to suffer.  So a message for today’s parents, if you don’t have a music education program at your school, push your kids into an online program.  It will make a huge difference in your kids life, even if they don’t end up pursuing music as a career.  You never know what an early exposure to the craft can do to a child, they are nothing but potential, you know!