*UPDATE: The Parentology team are big fans of Fender Play — the company’s online guitar and ukulele classes. Over the weekend we learned they’re offering three months of online classes for free to the first 100,000 users who create a Fender Play account. Learn more about the program from this interview we had with Fender back in the fall.
With all the warnings issued to parents about the dangers of screen time, it can be hard to remember potential benefits. The truth is, there are some great learning tools are out there. A stand-out among them, Fender Play, created by the legendary Fender guitar company.
Mary Keenan, director of products at Fender Digital, tells Parentology Fender Play is a “personalized, online/mobile learning tool for acoustic and electric guitars that offers players quick, simplified song-based video lessons.”
Covering the guitar, bass, and even ukulele, Fender Play not only teaches the user how to play an instrument, but improves other skills as well.
Ethan Kaplan, general manager at Fender Digital attests, “Having two kids of my own, aged six and 10, I know the struggles in getting kids away from screens, or at the very least using the screens as more active participants than just watching YouTube or Twitch.”
Kaplan adds, “Fender Play is a great tool for getting your kids working on something creative, while also using the ever-present screens in a more active way. Playing guitar uses all the senses: hearing, touch, motor skills and sight, and the best part is you’re creating something rather than just watching others.”
As Keenan explains, the product, which launched on July 6, 2017, “gives players the total package – fundamentals, practice, songs, theory, tips, and gear advice.”
Keenan points out the benefits of developing these physical skills: “Enhanced hand-eye coordination, strengthened hand and arm muscles, a boosted immune system and enhanced brain development relating to speech development.”
Lessons cover everything from identifying parts of the guitar to music theory and song structure. There are even articles about how to build finger dexterity and dealing with finger pain.
And then there are the psychological advantages. As Keenan notes, learning to play an instrument “Reduces the stress hormone cortisol and increases productivity. Playing music with other people also produces oxytocin, a binding chemical that promotes trust and social bonding, which can combat loneliness in the digital age.”
Unlike traditional music learning, which relies on hours of scales and a long, hard road to success, Fender Play keeps student interest by using accelerated learning. “Some skills are taught in less than two minutes and only 22 minutes to a beginner’s first recognizable riff,” Keenan says.
Gone, too, is the theory that all music students must use the same book to learn. The sheer variety of music selection is staggering. “Fender Play has hundreds of songs across country, rock, blues, pop and folk genres upon its release,” Keenan says. Artists range from Hank Williams to the Beetles to Nirvana. Little ones will love learning “Rainbow Connection” and Grace VanderWaal tunes on the ukulele.
According to its website, Fender Play instructors include “Graduates of top-notch music programs at USC, UCLA and Berklee College of Music,” who have appeared on television shows like Glee and performed with headliners including Andrea Boccelli, Postmodern Jukebox, and Avril Lavigne, among others.
The platform includes extras like a progress tracker and discounts. The annual plan offers a 24% discount as well as 10% off Fender guitars and gear, making it a great gift combo for the aspiring musician in your life. With a little practice, they’ll be playing Taylor Swift tunes by New Year’s.