The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #15596   Message #140748
Posted By: Michael K.
25-Nov-99 - 06:06 PM
Thread Name: Ragtime Guitar
Subject: RE: Ragtime Guitar
To Micca:

I am familiar with this arrangement as I too have the video which contains this tune.

Granted it's not an easy arrangement or suitable for a beginner of fingerstyle guitar to tackle...but if you have been working on more elementary exercises and songs you should be able to work up to the level necessary to tackle it.

In order to improve as a player (and if, part of this improvement is in learning others arrangements --contructive but debatable) you need to have the ''courage'' and discipline to undertake things that may appear to be out of your league or expertise and to not be intimidated by someone else level of playing. That's one of the ways to grow as a musician...and Grossman's been playing guitar for 35+ years.

(Granted some people may not necessarily want to improve beyond their current capability, because they are comfortable with where they are as a player, or do it just for pure fun and don't have the time to practise..or a variety of different reasons. To each his own.)

However, one way to figure out if it's time to grow, is if you find all the tunes you're learning are easy to figure out and play in a short period of time (week or two of practise), then you're definitely ready to challenge yourself....assuming you are up for the challenge.

When I got back into fingerpicking a few years ago (after a 25 year absence from touching a guitar - long story) I bought quite a few of Grossman's videos because at the time I couldn't find a teacher capable of taking me in the direction I wanted to go.) Unfortunately and again this is my taste only, I was disappointed with the selection of a lot of the tunes on his videos. That is not to say that there wasn't a lot of useful information nestled within those tunes - there was and I absorbed it) but a lot of the times I would take what I considered the ''intellectual hearts'' of the tunes and learn those sections without necessarily learning the entire arrangement. I could then craft my own tunes and improvise around these licks, riffs, chord formations and shapes and suit them more to my taste.

Personally, while I find Stefan a very technically excellent and knowledgable player and a good (albeit highly opinionated) teacher, it just amazes me at what a horrible, dirty, scratchy sound he gets out of his expensive Franklin guitars and, in a lot of cases his playing seems totally devoid of any soul or feel...more like listening to a machine. This is afterall a guy who spent his formative guitar learning years, learning to be an imitator and emulator of other people's styles, most notably Rev. Gary Davis who was his teacher, as well as Blind Blake, BB Broonzy, John Hurt and many many others...and of course on his videos he encourages you, the student to become an emulator as well. But this is my opinion only and I am sure there are many others that would totally disagree with me and think me out of my mind. That's fine.

Fortunately, for the past few months I have been working with an excellent teacher and have learned more with him and improved as a player in a few months, than in all the time I spent solely working off of video instruction and tab arrangements.

Don't give up playing the guitar if it brings you joy. It's not a competition. Playing and practising should be enjoyable. If it reaches a point where it isn't, then perhaps you have to rethink the situation (and if you're using an old vintage Martin to practise on and want to sell it (- call me!):-)

Personally, I do it as a hobby and have no desire to go and do gigs or be on stage performing. (Been there done that.) But I aspire to be the best fingerpicker I can be, given the capabilities and limitations I have and, I have a certain standard that I expect of myself, which I know (from years as a professional piano player) I am capable of attaing. I want to sound as good as any top recording fingerpicking artist, but without the pressure to perform or gig. I just like to hear that level of sound coming out of me. It's almost better than sex. (grin)