byline picby Pappy

When I was in my early 20s, I had a roommate named Bert who serves in the US Air Force.  The first time he deployed he was only gone for a few months, but when he came back he looked a little worse for wear and acted like he hadn’t seen anything familiar in a LONG time.  When I picked him up, he asked to stop by the Wendy’s drive-through and was vocal about how much he was enjoying his burger, saying that they didn’t have Wendy’s out there and he missed it.  Also, when we got back to our apartment, he stood in the grass outside the building as I was unloading his bags.  He was just standing there, slightly springing up and down on his feet.  He said that the grass and dirt felt amazing.  All he had seen was sand and rocks.  He said color looked weird to him because he had settled into a world of browns and grays.  COLOR looked strange to him.  Think about that for a bit.

He also told me that he was going to pick up playing guitar.  People deploy with guitars and play them in whatever little free time they have while serving their country in foreign lands.  Bert said these people seemed the happiest and he said that he felt very lonely out in the desert because he had very little touchstones to home.  He could call his family occasionally, but not all the time and when he was free, it was at hours when his parents were sleeping most of the time.  He played video games, and that helped, but it didn’t completely scratch that itch of loneliness and isolation.

So after a few days of getting resettled, he decided to go through with his plan to learn guitar and he ordered a Schecter A-10 from their Aviation Series because he was a huge airplane guy and… you know… in the military (and proud of it) and all.

Schecter A-10 Warthog

He also ordered the requisite practice amp and set to trying to learn the guitar.  But then he got a girlfriend who turned into a wife and decided that she was more important than learning guitar.

I know.  Craziness.

He was on to something though.  Deployed troops are in a land they aren’t familiar with, doing rough work and risking their lives every day for someone else’s benefit – people they’ll probably never meet and who don’t know who the deployed are.  They get by bravely and stubbornly, refusing to give up on their mission, their teammates, or themselves.  Their world washes into browns and grays from their surroundings and it becomes incredibly easy to settle into depression or feeling sorry for themselves.  They cling to the little things that get them through the day, whatever they are, and the country they support should try to supplement or add to these enjoyed things as much as possible because the troops are sacrificing for the good of the people.  The people should actively try to show their support.

That’s why I was super stoked to see an email from TrueFire saying that they are starting Operation Grateful where people can submit their friend’s or relative’s name, email and address (along with their own) and TrueFire will send them a box of educational material to work on whenever they can.  While Bert may have given up on playing guitar so he could pursue his other hobbies like marriage, he introduced me to other people who were also going to learn guitar – one in particular named Tim.  I hopped right on TrueFire’s offer and sent them Tim’s name and address and a few weeks later a box arrived for him that featured no information about what the contents were, who sent them, or how it was ordered.  Inside were five courses covering a variety of genres and style instructions.  Specifically, the following were included:

The Bebop Dojo: Essentials
Vertical Soloing
Triads & Hendrixian Double-Stops
Jeff Scheetz’s Rock Solid
and The Golden Arp

This isn’t to say that these are the courses everyone will receive, or the amount of courses everyone will receive, this just what Tim got in the mail.

These are not SAMPLES of five courses, nor are they offered for free on TrueFire’s site – these are real courses and they are real TRUEFIRE courses.  For those that don’t know, TrueFire offers the most comprehensive courses you can imagine.  Think of a normal instructional DVD: you have an instructor rolling through material, playing it at speed, slowing it down, breaking it down, etc.  Perhaps the DVD comes with printed TAB in the case if you’re lucky.  TrueFire, on the other hand, offers their courses on discs (not DVDs, but data discs for your computers, both Windows and Mac) with video segments, but it also comes with Jam Tracks, and TAB in a variety of file formats that allow you to bring them in to a variety of different platforms that people are comfortable with.  They’re long courses, too.  The shortest course that Tim received was 190 minutes of video segments.  That is… comprehensive.  The longest he received was a whopping 389 minutes!  Imagine what you could learn in 389 minutes of instruction!

You don’t even need to buy TrueFire lessons on disc, either.  They offer almost all (if not all) of their courses both on-disc or as a download for a discounted price.  Since they’re not paying for printing and shipping, they’re passing the savings on to the customer – a really cool idea.  The first thing they tell you when you buy it is to burn yourself a backup copy in case your computer ever crashes, or your hard drive dies, or lightning strikes, etc. etc.  A company openly telling you to backup your materials on another disc?  How refreshing!  A buddy of mine named Jeff told me about TrueFire and he said that he puts the courses into his Dropbox account so he can access them anywhere where he has a signal, and since he travels around the country a lot for his IT job, it really comes in handy.

Before people even click the “buy” button though, TrueFire goes out of their way to make sure you know EXACTLY what you’re getting into in order to mitigate the risk of buyer’s remorse.  They offer lengthy trailers for the videos, instructor biographies, even free sample lessons from the courses all so you know if the course is what you’re really trying to learn or taught to the level that you need.

In short, TrueFire is trying to be the best instructional resource for you, the player.  Their courses are awesome (I have an acoustic course that I particularly enjoy) and their customer service is great, too.  The fact that they’re willing to just give away a bunch of lessons for free to serving members in our military is incredibly generous!

Oh I didn’t mention that Operation Grateful was free to the military member AND the person ordering it?  I should have led with that – seems like a big point to know.

I’m a big fan of our troops and am happy to help them out in any way possible.  They deserve every distraction from their current atmosphere and every reminder of home that they can get.  The fact that I can help provide this to them for free thanks to TrueFire is heartwarming.  Not a lot of companies would donate so much, especially for free, and I’m grateful to them.  This is a great company offering the opportunity to do something awesome for people that are true heroes.  If you know a serving member of the military who plays guitar, you should definitely look into this.

For more information or to order a box for your loved one, click HERE.