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Free Stuff at the iTunes Music Store...


Episode 50
December 23rd, 2005

The holidays mean gift buying and gift giving for most of us, but they also mean feeling a bit strapped for cash for many of us… So this week I'd like to highlight a few cool things you can get for free at the iTunes Music Store including free guitar lesson videos and lots of excellent (and free) podcasts.

36 Free Guitar Lessons

Let me start by saying that I'm not much of a guitar player. I own a few guitars and I can knock out a few Ramones songs on 'em, but I'm self taught and not very proficient. If you've ever seen me play my once-a-year gig with the Macworld All-Star Band, or listened to any of my recordings (available at my .Mac site), you know I'm not lying. So I was tickled to come across 36 free guitar lessons from iPlayMusic at the iTunes Music Store.

Of course it's a come-on for their paid lessons, available as downloadable song modules or interactive DVDs, but they are still free lessons and pretty darned good at that.

The first few lessons are quite basic, explaining how to hold a guitar (see Figure 1); string, fret, and finger numbering; and how to tune your guitar.

The lessons are clean and professionally produced.

Most lessons utilize a three-camera view of the instructor as shown in Figure 1 or a four-camera view as shown in Figure 2.

The four shot view used for most of the lessons.

The close-ups of the fret board make it easy to follow along and do exactly what the instructor tells you to do. And when finger position really matters, rather than a three or four-view shots, you'll find a full-screen close up of the proper finger positions as shown in Figure 3.

A close up of the finger positions for a C major chord.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't get much out of these lessons. It turns out I already know most of what they contain. So if you're a real guitar player you won't find much here for you. But for those who are relatively new to the guitar, the lessons are slick, professionally produced, and present the material clearly. I'm certain they would have a novice playing a few chords and a couple of songs in just a few hours.

iTunes Music Store link: 36 free guitar lessons by iPlayMusic

Free Audio Recordings

Here are some other interesting audio recordings you can download or subscribe to at the iTunes Music Store… Yes, they're podcasts, but with thousands of podcasts to choose from, these are a handful I feel are truly worth listening to.

Coverville by Brian Ibbott

If you like listening to music, even just a little, you'll love Coverville by Brian Ibbott. It's a 30-ish minute podcast offered two or three times a week which consists of rare, unusual, and often wonderful cover songs. What's a cover song? It's a song played by someone other than the original recording artist. So, for example, when I record my rendition of classic Ramones' tune Rockaway Beach (available at my .Mac page), that's a cover song-me covering the Ramones' Rockaway Beach.

Fortunately for you, you'll never hear my cover songs on Coverville, but you will hear a handful of really cool cover songs interspersed with Brian Ibbott's encyclopedic commentary in every episode.

Coverville is unique, interesting, entertaining, and just plain fun. It's probably my favorite podcast of all time. So go ahead and give it a try... It's free so you've got nothing to lose (except perhaps a few minutes of your time).

iTunes Music Store link: Coverville


This may be totally self-serving since I'm one of the so-called MacNotables, but I really enjoy listening to the MacNotables podcasts (especially ones I'm not involved in). For the record, the other notables are (in alphabetical order so as not to hurt any feelings): Chris Breen, TMO's Bryan Chaffin, Jim Dalrymple, Adam and Tonya Engst, Dan Frakes, TMO's Andy Ihnatko, TMO's Ted Landau, Dennis Sellers, and Jason Snell. Each episode features our fearless host Chuck Joiner quizzing one or more of us about something somehow related to the Mac, Apple, iPod, or almost anything else you can think of.

Again, since it's completely free of charge (and free of advertising, too), you have nothing to lose. So why not give it a try?

iTunes Music Store link: MacNotables

The Mac Observer's Mac Geek Gab

I hear it's a good idea to suck up to the guy who signs your paycheck around this time of year, so please check out The Mac Observer's Mac Geek Gab with Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun.

I'm just kidding. You should check out the Mac Geek Gab because it's excellent, and because Dave and John are a lot of fun to listen to. You can tell they're having a good time and I always have a good time when I tune in. They sometimes wander far off-topic, and occasionally discuss things only a true geek could love, but they produce one of the more enjoyable and informative podcasts I know of for Mac lovers and users. Give them a try-I think you'll be pleased.

iTunes Music Store link: Mac Geek Gab link

Dusty Wright's Culture Catch

Billed as "captivating content for ravenous pop culture junkies and savvy scene stealers," Dusty Wright's Culture Catch is a genuine find. It's primarily an interview show and in each episode Dusty interrogates someone interesting including celebrities like Michael Butler (producer of Hair on Broadway), Tony Visconti (producer of David Bowie's best work), David Cronenberg (director of films including Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, and The Fly), Mark Mothersbaugh (founder/leader of Devo and composer of the Rugrats TV show theme), Susie Essman (the foul-mouthed Susie Green on HBO's hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm) and more.

I find Culture Catch weird, wonderful, and well worth downloading.

iTunes Music Store link: Culture Catch link

Bruce Springsteen Born to Run 30th Anniversary Podcast

If you love Bruce (and I do), don't miss this six-part series, which offers a ton of insight into how one of the greatest albums of all time was recorded as well snippets of demo recordings and alternate takes. If you are a fan of the Boss, download all seven parts right now for many hours of pure Springsteen bliss.

iTunes Music Store link: Born to Run 30th Anniversary podcast link

And so, gentle reader; there you have it-a ton and a half of pure listening enjoyment that won't cost you one red cent. Have fun!

And that's all he wrote...

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit

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