Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Learning The Guitar: Frustration

Rob Naylor 14 May 10 - 01:47 PM
Leadfingers 14 May 10 - 02:06 PM
Will Fly 14 May 10 - 02:26 PM
Rob Naylor 14 May 10 - 04:18 PM
Will Fly 14 May 10 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Will Branch 14 May 10 - 05:18 PM
Tangledwood 14 May 10 - 08:04 PM
Nick 14 May 10 - 09:14 PM
Nick 14 May 10 - 09:15 PM
Nick 14 May 10 - 09:29 PM
Bobert 14 May 10 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,guest - jim younger 15 May 10 - 12:22 AM
mandotim 15 May 10 - 06:02 AM
Anne Lister 15 May 10 - 06:45 AM
banjoman 15 May 10 - 07:19 AM
Old Vermin 15 May 10 - 08:47 AM
Tim Leaning 15 May 10 - 08:49 AM
The Sandman 15 May 10 - 09:01 AM
Richard Bridge 15 May 10 - 09:01 AM
Rob Naylor 15 May 10 - 10:03 AM
Nick 15 May 10 - 01:21 PM
Nick 15 May 10 - 01:53 PM
Murray MacLeod 15 May 10 - 05:40 PM
Old Vermin 15 May 10 - 06:53 PM
Rob Naylor 15 May 10 - 06:54 PM
Rob Naylor 05 Jun 10 - 04:36 PM
Stringsinger 05 Jun 10 - 05:26 PM
Leadfingers 05 Jun 10 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,Bill the sound 05 Jun 10 - 08:06 PM
Melissa 05 Jun 10 - 08:33 PM
Rob Naylor 05 Jun 10 - 08:38 PM
Will Fly 06 Jun 10 - 04:18 AM
Rob Naylor 06 Jun 10 - 04:59 AM
The Sandman 06 Jun 10 - 06:07 AM
Will Fly 06 Jun 10 - 06:26 AM
Rob Naylor 06 Jun 10 - 09:44 AM
Roger the Skiffler 06 Jun 10 - 09:54 AM
Rob Naylor 06 Jun 10 - 10:42 AM
Will Fly 06 Jun 10 - 12:47 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 06 Jun 10 - 06:05 PM
Stringsinger 07 Jun 10 - 01:27 PM
Will Fly 07 Jun 10 - 01:56 PM
PoppaGator 07 Jun 10 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Ashley -Rag Mama Rag 08 Jun 10 - 05:52 AM
Rob Naylor 08 Jun 10 - 06:15 AM
Rob Naylor 08 Jun 10 - 06:36 AM
MikeL2 08 Jun 10 - 06:40 AM
Tangledwood 08 Jun 10 - 07:27 PM
Leadfingers 08 Jun 10 - 08:54 PM
Crowhugger 08 Jun 10 - 10:57 PM
Piers Plowman 09 Jun 10 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Guest 09 Jun 10 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Jun 10 - 07:01 AM
Bobert 10 Jun 10 - 07:42 AM
PoppaGator 10 Jun 10 - 06:19 PM
lefthanded guitar 10 Jun 10 - 07:01 PM
Rob Naylor 11 Jun 10 - 06:13 AM
Piers Plowman 11 Jun 10 - 07:44 AM
Piers Plowman 11 Jun 10 - 08:06 AM
Piers Plowman 11 Jun 10 - 08:34 AM
Piers Plowman 11 Jun 10 - 08:36 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:47 PM

I've been learning the guitar for about 2 years now (I'm 54). I didn't know much musical theory when I started and I don't know a huge amount more now (a few scales, what chords usually go in which key and I can puzzle out notation given time).

However, what's really frustrating the hell out of me is how LONG it takes me to learn/ imprint a tune...and even when I think I've got it down pat, the next time I play it I can fumble around and make loads of mistakes.

Is this normal for a person at my stage or am I just someone with no talent who's persevering at something I'm not innately suited for? Other people I know (admittedly who've been playing guitar a lot longer than I have) can seem to pick up a tune, and embellish it/ put their own stamp on it quite quickly whereas I can struggle for weeks and still find areas that go wrong for me. For example, it probably took me 2 months, averaging maybe 30 minutes a day, or 30 hours practice time in all, to get a flatpicking version of "The Gael/ Last of the Mohicans" to a point where the mistakes I (still) make on the fast parts are only really noticeable to myself.

I can bash out chords OK, and do some reasonably OK-sounding Pink Floyd/ Camel/ Wishbone Ash-ey type stuff on the electric, but acoustic fingerstyle is frustrating the hell out of me. Repeating patterns are OK...I can handle things like the Martin Carthy version of "Trees They Do Grow High" (though it took me about a month to get even that to "flow" well) but finger picking where the melody line is more complex than a simple repeating pattern is proving very hard for me.

What I'm really looking for, I suppose, is some reassurance that it'll get better/ easier over time. Or a reality check that says if I haven't cracked it in 2 years I'm not going to! I practice on average about an hour a day.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 May 10 - 02:06 PM

Rob - Even Youngsters develop Musical Skill at different rates and you ARE a tad ourside the Optimum Age for starting an instrument , especially from scratch ! Hand in there mate , and perevere ! All of a sudden it will be there !!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 May 10 - 02:26 PM

Rob - two years is not an overly long time to have been learning. Playing patterned fingerpicking after that time is good going. Playing a more complex fingerpicked tune - i.e. where the melodic line is not tied rhythmically or harmonically to the rhythm or the chord pattern requires a much greater discipline. It often pre-supposes a good chord knowledge up and down the fretboard, and the ability to play both hands independently, as in a piano. On those terms, two years is definitely a very short time!

It's always important to practice to a purpose - to set yourself a task, perhaps a phrase, a few bars, a short tune - and then work on that for a while. Then - stop and relax and play something that's not as taxing.

I personally don't think age necessarily has a real bearing on learning. I think determination, a decent instrument and quality time for practice are the main factors. I also think that playing along with someone who is better than you can be hugely profitable. I was lucky enough, as a young chap (40 years ago) to play with two or three absolute guitar wizards who were very generous with their knowledge. But even playing with someone of the same standard as you can be very rewarding as you each pick up on the other's discoveries.

Keep at it and you will get there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:18 PM

Leadfingers...yes, and plenty accumulated age-related damage...restricted movement in my right elbow following a break when I fell rock climbing...plus constant pain in it. And the ring and little finger of my left hand numb following ulnar nerve damage. Frostnip damage to several finger tips from ice-climbing, and occasional "A-pulley" tendon strain (usually in the middle finger)when I crimp a hold too hard. I guess I have to face it that my hands are not i great nick for playing sensitively. But there are several 'catters on here who seem to manage despite must more serious injuries to their hands than mine.

Will...Thanks for the input. I guess I've just got to work at the complex fingerpicking. I'm motivated to master it as I think the guitar played (well) in that way sounds magical. When I started, I got an Epiphone Les Paul and was quite happy for a while just learning electric lead parts, but found it really limiting, not having anyone else to play with regularly. Also had regular complaints from the family re amplification.

So I branched out and got an acoustic about a year ago, since when I've hardly touched the Epi! I think the instrument's decent enough for me to learn on at this stage. It's one of the "bottom of range" Mexican-made Martins with the HPL sides and back, but it sounds good, has a decent action and plays quite easily, so good enough for me for now.

It was YouTube videos of Tommy Emmanuel and Andy McKee which really awakened a desire to learn the acoustic, plus wanting to play some "folky" stuff. And then I discovered your YouTube videos, which I'm using quite extensively to learn from now. I like your picking diagrams, even though I usually have to step through them one frame at a time several times before I "get" it!

I do set myself a task, work on it and then relax by playing something easier or that I've already mastered. I guess I started doing that naturally as I realised early on that just flogging at something solidly for an hour would probably turn me right off!

I'll reiterate that your videos are an absolute inspiration and that any generosity on the part of your mentors 40 years ago has been more than repaid by the time and effort you've put into your YouTube lessons. I've got at least 8-10 of them "favourited" at any one time :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:51 PM

Rob, if you ever fancy an excursion into deepest Sussex for a jam, just let me know. You know you're more than welcome. :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,Will Branch
Date: 14 May 10 - 05:18 PM

Don't let it get you down - I think it takes a long time for a song to settle in for a lot of pickers. I've been playing for about 25 years, and it still takes longer than I think it should for a song to really feel secure. I would recommend focusing on a certain batch of songs, a set, and then playing each song hundreds of times - at jams, with friends, etc. Just remember - when you finally do get a song in your permanent memory, it will probably be there forever.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Tangledwood
Date: 14 May 10 - 08:04 PM

What I'm really looking for, I suppose, is some reassurance that it'll get better/ easier over time. Or a reality check that says if I haven't cracked it in 2 years I'm not going to! I practice on average about an hour a day.

What you are attempting to do sounds a little more demanding than what I am now trying. I bought my first guitar in 1973. After years of frustration, and due to different interests, I gave it up for about twenty years then start up again at the age of - 54. Now, at 57, I'm further ahead than I had ever been, but still get frustrated at the time taken to memorize tunes.

For a long time I stuck with fingerpicking arpeggios as accompaniment to singing. Nothing flash but it sounds OK. Now I'm attempting to extend that by just adding a bit more melody in amongst the arpeggios, achieved by being a bit more active with the fretting fingers.

I guess what I'm saying is that you will make progress. Expect a roller-coaster of progress and plateaux. Enjoy the process - you're the only one setting targets and then judging yourself aren't you?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Nick
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:14 PM

I sat in a session tonight next to someone who 'doesn't play the flute' and she was awfully good.

I've seen Will Fly on the internet and Leadfingers in real time.

You may be much better than all of us but words can't express.

If you can do it - and want to - post something for criticism. You'll know if it's your super best or how you normally play or worse than you play. People are very nice but also very honest here.

It doesn't get easier over time.

You hit plateaus(x?) and decide whether you want to stay there or keep climbing. I'm still climbing over the next few that I can see and then I'll get serious when I get to the next new bit


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Nick
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:15 PM

sorry forgot to mention I've been 28 twice now


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Nick
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:29 PM

oh and Tommy Emmanuel is an astonishing player who makes it look so so easy.

Watch his hands and the touch of his right hand and the rhythm and the lightness and strength is something that is all about practice and love. He loves every note he plays and has so much technique - like this Is this frustration or practice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Bobert
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:50 PM

Finger pickin' is all rote memory... Do the tunes you can do by doing what you say you can do well and that is mashing out chords... Fine...

Then in private work on yer finger pickin'...

What happens with all musicans who continue to work on the rote memory of finger pickin' is simple: One day yer pickin' hand will just tell you to "fuck off"... That's right... It will decalre it's independence and from then on it will do what it knows to do and you will have almost no control of it... And guess what??? That's a good thing... But the onoly way there is to practice, practice, practice... Ain't no easy ways... No shortcuts... Just do it and until then mash out chords if ya' gotta perform or jam... We all did it this way, believe me...

b~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,guest - jim younger
Date: 15 May 10 - 12:22 AM

If you can play Martin Carthy's Trees They Do Grow High you're doing okay.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: mandotim
Date: 15 May 10 - 06:02 AM

Bobert has it spot on; there is a point when all you have to do is listen to what is being played; the hands translate what you are hearing almost automatically. Practice helps, but there is such a thing as trying too hard with one particular tune. Play lots of stuff, with different sounds and techniques, and eventually various licks will 'stick' in your muscle memory. Most picked tunes have a series of licks, patterns and chord structures which can be found in other songs, and when you come across them your hands will tell you 'I know this, please disengage brain at this point'. Try to practice not thinking about it as you play, and don't worry about odd slips and fumbles. Play the tune, not the technique. Try playing the tune slowly, then much too fast, then slowly again. Each time I do this, my fluency improves on the second slow version.
Last things; judging by the material you are playing, your are very advanced for a player of two years standing. Be proud! You are not too old to be starting an instrument; my dad was 70 when he took up his first instrument (the cello, for God's sake!)and now plays regularly in a small chamber orchestra. He's 84 and still learning. If you want a book on this, 'The Inner Game of Music' by Timothy Gallwey is very good.
Best wishes
Tim
PS I had a gig last night, and I was playing a tune on mandolin that I know inside out...until I started to think about what I was doing!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Anne Lister
Date: 15 May 10 - 06:45 AM

Don't know if you've tried this, but when I was getting stuff embedded initially I would sit with a book to read in front of me and then attempt to keep playing the guitar while I was reading. It helped my fingers learn what my brain had already assimilated, if that makes sense.
But the other thing is that you never stop learning the guitar - however good you think you may be there's always something else to learn or finesse.
Keep going - you're doing just fine, judging by what you say you can do already.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: banjoman
Date: 15 May 10 - 07:19 AM

Hang in there - I have been playing guitar and banjo for over 50 years and still consider myself a learner - give yourself a break and spend some time playing what you feel comfortable with. Its always great to join in with other musicians, most of whom will make you very welcome.
Good luck
Pete


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Old Vermin
Date: 15 May 10 - 08:47 AM

Everybody spends time on successive plateaux when learning. So I'm told, and so I find. Started properly at more than 50, ten or so years ago. Struggling at a higher level.

Not clear from the above if you, Rob, are playing with or in front of other people yet. If possible, do - with is great for company and learning and in front of is a very useful discipline. Terrifying at first, but it and you get better.

I played for the first time in front of a non-folkie crowd of strangers on Thursday. Monthly local pub open-mic, run a by a young woman I know slightly. Predominantly pop & rock based, amplified. Nursed a pint of Otter mild until I came on towards the end. Was of course thoroughly scared beforehand.

Borrowed guitar for the plug-in, no strap and stool at a weird height. Introduced with gentle joke - girl in main act band had sung 'f**k me on the floor' so 'at my age, you just think carpet burns' got a reasonable laugh. Said I was going to do a tune or three with maybe some Americana and perhaps Mozart.

Went into finger-picked Dark Island, shifted into Amazing Grace and eventually into Michael Turner's Waltz, which is mostly Mozart K568 or thereabouts. Was very much stripped to essentials under public scrutiny. Ornamentation, bass and harmony bits were trimmed a bit, going for melody/rhythm.

Said thanks for listening and people seemed to like it an applauded far more than I'd expected or hoped. The two very good guitar/vocal brothers who finished the session said 'see you next time.' A nice crowd and I'll go again. Pint afterwards went down fast.

The impetus to learn a tune or two came from the possibility of needing something for a session after a son's wedding. Deadlines, even self-imposed and unnecessary, help.

And to quote, probably, Grant Baynham, the most important hand on the guitar is the right. Chords can be short-cut and fudged. Getting the melody and chords right is good, the timing and rhythm is what matters.

And from probably from Jonny Dyer, chords do not have to be standard 1-3-5 triads - short chords and bits of modal stuff help. Feeling he mentioned 1-4-5 and even, ah-hem, jazz chords and 9ths and what-have you.

I'd add that you don't have to go into a tune at the formal start, and you can go out of it before the end. Intros and outros make life easier all round.

And two years really isn't very long to have been playing. To quote Rollo Woods:

"There are three secrets to playing an instrument -

practise




practise





and




practise"



Have fun.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 15 May 10 - 08:49 AM

Tommy Emanuel vids were ace enjoyed looking and listening,Just keep plodding along along mate. Hills to climb are exhilarating then the plateaus are ok for a while but you soon get bored and looking for the next hill.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 10 - 09:01 AM

if it is any consolation the guitar is much easier than the violin,and [imo]easier than the English concertina.
try specific exercises for improving flat picking]play triplets in the following combination, dud dud then dud udu,then ddu ddu and for pattern finger picking try 5 321 4 [0r6] 321,5 312 4 312, 5 123 6 123,
then try just practising thumb altenating between 54 64 56 46,when you have mastered tha ttry a pattern based on alternating thumb for every beat with half beats in between 5342 5341 6342 5341,practise this on open strings first then change the pattern, so that on the first beat you pinch two notes together[53]crotchet 4 then 2.rhythym crotchet two quavers.Dick Miles


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 10 - 09:01 AM

It sounds to me as if you are doing very well!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 15 May 10 - 10:03 AM

Thanks everyone for your input. It's very much appreciated.

Will: I may well take you up on that kind offer!

Bobert: What happens with all musicans who continue to work on the rote memory of finger pickin' is simple: One day yer pickin' hand will just tell you to "fuck off"... That's right... It will decalre it's independence and from then on it will do what it knows to do and you will have almost no control of it [...] Just do it and until then mash out chords if ya' gotta perform or jam... We all did it this way, believe me...

That's very reassuring. All I've got to do now then is pack in enough hours of practice for my right hand to give me the finger!

Nick: If you can do it - and want to - post something for criticism. You'll know if it's your super best or how you normally play or worse than you play. People are very nice but also very honest here.

I think I'd like to do that. Is there an upload area on Mudcat, or will I have to do something like create an "artist" page on "ilike", upload to that and then link it here?


Old Vermin: Not clear from the above if you, Rob, are playing with or in front of other people yet. If possible, do - with is great for company and learning and in front of is a very useful discipline. Terrifying at first, but it and you get better.

Mandotim: I had a gig last night, and I was playing a tune on mandolin that I know inside out...until I started to think about what I was doing!

I've played at a couple of sessions, after taking most of the evening each time to pluck up the courage. One time went "sort of" OK. The other was pretty much a disaster...I tried about 3 different tunes at various points in the evening, and except for one that I managed to stumble though (and I *do* mean stumble through) as a duet, they wer appalling. I did exactly what Mandotim notes above: started thinking about tunes that I know well. Then I did everything else that's "wrong": re-starting after flubbing a chord about 8 bars in, then stopping further in still, apologising and re-starting from the stop point. Then just stopping half way through the 2nd song when the nerves got so bad that I couldn't keep going. Funnily enough, I played the piece perfectly to an audience of 2 other guitarists in the corner at the end of the night!

Not managed to pluck up the courage to try again yet at any of the 4 sessions/ singarounds I've been to since the "disaster", even though the last one had a very benign "crowd" of only about 8 people and an MC who gently encouraged me to do "something" each time the turn came round to me. I'm planning to try again at the next session I go to, but I'm turning to jelly at the keyboard just thinking about it. I figure Keith Donnelly's "Breakfast Blues" is easy enough to play and sing at the same time, and the lyrics groan-worthy enough to disguise any shortcomings in my performance, so I'll start with that and if if goes well, try something a bit more musical :-)

Thanks again for all the comments/ pointers/ advice. Lots to think about.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Nick
Date: 15 May 10 - 01:21 PM

Mudcat doesn't have an upload area but it's easy enough to upload to myspace or Esnips or anywhere you can store and let people access. Most of the things I've linked to from here have been at Esnips which gives you 5gb of space free and you can have little widgets like the one I put a few years ago on here in case I ever needed to tell people what are little gathering is about.

It gets irate if it thinks its copyright and not yours but it's a good resource. I have a tune somewhere that I wrote and played which has (with no obvious source of anyone knowing it's there) had 1200 plays which is weird especially as I have never played it live to anyone.

The BEST disaster I ever had was at a singaround in Mickleby nr Whitby. I had played the guitar for a long time but mostly to myself - I was too scared. About 6 years ago because of a series of things I started playing in public (never sang - very in the background etc etc). I then gradually started playing a bit and singing.

First time I strayed from the safety of my immediate safe(?) environment I went to Mickleby. Forgot the words. Forgot the song. It might even have been the night that my front tooth came out (no that was the third time - by then I just kept going and didn't smile a lot). I was SO embarrassed.

The next morning I realised that I was still alive and nobody was that harmed and I could do it again if I chose.

Playing with people and to people is the bit of the jigsaw I missed out on for probably 40 years and I kick myself now for that. I learned more in the last 3 years playing with people than in the previous 50 something. Having a guitar there to hand every day - though I've had to unlearn a lot - is where I so agree with Bobert; second nature stuff.

Off to play in 50 mins at a birthday party with a fiddle playing friend.

I'm perhaps strange in that I'm an unashamed accompanist rather than a soloist (though I do sing and play). It depends what you want to do and where you want to be.

My son met Gareth ? (18ish)at Cambridge Folk Festival who played with Tommy Emmanuel n one of his tours the last time I saw TE play live (to 200 people in a tiny place and wow he is an astounding guitarist). What Gareth said to my son is that he came out of school and just practiced and practiced and practiced. In 2-3 years he was wonderful.

Most if us are neither focused enough or interested enough or ... which always means there is an opportunity.

If only I'd taken it seriously...

But at least I'm doing it a bit more now.

The next aim is to get better


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Nick
Date: 15 May 10 - 01:53 PM

I was thinking in the bath though that if I'd never started playing again a few years ago (which was like a proper start) how much I'd have missed.

Next week I'll be down in Luton and will go and play with people. I could play music near here 7 days a week. I wouldn't have had the fun of interacting with so many people over the last few years and learning so much. My bizarrest evening being the night I realised what a fantastic percussionist K T Tunstalls record producer is when I was in a pub in Sidmouth and he was playing the bodhran (and he is wonderfully good). You can't plan stuff like that and for an amateur player who just loves music and never performs in Folk clubs etc it's great.

And that was just one.

If only... *snuffle*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 15 May 10 - 05:40 PM

..."My son met Gareth ? (18ish)at Cambridge Folk Festival who played with Tommy Emmanuel " ....

that would be Gareth Pearson, and yes, he is indeed an amazing guitarist.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Old Vermin
Date: 15 May 10 - 06:53 PM

As for disasters, I have them. I suspect everyone else does. This includes a man who know who gets stuck at the same point every time on the same tune he plays in the same singaround.

Glossing over my own attempted solo singing cock-ups.

With hindsight, it was not a good idea to mess about with a tune or two in DADGAD om Saturday afternoon and not play again until Sunday evening.In standard tuning same tunes went, had to thought about and couldn't be found. Ouch.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 15 May 10 - 06:54 PM

Worth it for the last bit alone:

Pearson-Emmanuel

Hoe did they do that, and without even missing a beat?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 04:36 PM

Nick: Mudcat doesn't have an upload area but it's easy enough to upload to myspace or Esnips or anywhere you can store and let people access. Most of the things I've linked to from here have been at Esnips which gives you 5gb of space free

OK, I finally signed up to Esnips: thanks for the pointer to it. I'll start to upload some stuff for a bit of criticism. I've actually uploaded one song, but it's the sort of "bashing out chords and weakly singing" thing that I'm comfortable with, rather than the fingerpicking I'd like to get properly critiqued. I know I rushed it a bit, and had a senior moment in the last verse, so had to squeeze one lyric line into 2 beats less space than it needed, but I've played it successfully in public a couple of times now.

It's at:

Breakfast Blues

Other stuff to follow, when I've figured out a better way to record them than through a laptop mic!

Incidentally, I've now had an octave mandolin for 2 weeks and seem to have a better affinity for it than for the guitar. I find that I can work out melodies on it much more easily than I can on the guitar and although the action's a bit high I can do some OK-sounding improvs on it, which I have real trouble with on the guitar. I've played it at the last 2 sessions I've been to, with fewer mistakes than I made on guitar pieces that I've played for a lot longer. Go figure!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 05:26 PM

Learning a musical instrument is bound at times to be frustrating. There comes a point when you wish you could play better. If you are listening to Tommy Emanuel it must be really frustrating for you if you aspire to that level of technique.

A lot of what you are going through is psychological. One way out is to find other musicians or aspiring musicians at your level and get together with them on a regular basis. You'll find that you will improve through this interaction.

It is good if you can find the specific point at which you find this frustration. Sometimes a good teacher can help here.

The best form of practice is not mass practice but distributed practice. This means rather than an hour a day, make it say 15 minute segments throughout the day. This enhances muscle memory. Also, in mass practice, there comes a point where the learning process breaks down and it's time to take a break. 2 years is a short time. You are expecting too much of yourself. Getting together with others will enhance the process of learning.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 06:34 PM

A mate of mine came out with the comment " The best Violinist in the world has never seen a violin!"
"What?" I hear you cry - As I Did ! "One day he WILL see a violin and he WILL become the best in the world"
I have , in my time , played Scottish Bagpipes , Jazz Clarinet and Sax ,Sung Trad Unaccomplished , and played Guitar Banjo and Mandolin well enough to get paid Gigs - but the ONLY intrument I DO claim to play is Penny Whistle !
Its an instrument I just have an affinity for and can do stuff on a whistle that I REALLY struggled with on Clarinet . So try as many intruments as you can and one day you will find YOUR instrument !
This post inspired by Rob's comment about Octave Mandolin (Or should it be Octave Mandola?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,Bill the sound
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 08:06 PM

I have a friend who says"sometimes these instruments just don't want to be played" Stick at it and it'll work in the end
I started playing guitar at 60


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Melissa
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 08:33 PM

Rob,
That clip sounds fine to me.
Thanks for posting it.

You've got a good ear for pitch/timing. If you're consistent, you'd be a lot more pleasant to mingle guitars with than a large percentage of the fairly-beginners I run into here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 08:38 PM

Stringsinger: I don't *aspire* to achieve the technical level of Tommy Emmanual, though I do hope that he *inspires* me.

I'll be happy if I can succeed at, in the words of Will Fly above: Playing a more complex fingerpicked tune - i.e. where the melodic line is not tied rhythmically or harmonically to the rhythm or the chord pattern requires a much greater discipline. It often pre-supposes a good chord knowledge up and down the fretboard, and the ability to play both hands independently, as in a piano.

I am now starting to play a bit with other people, and I'm slowly getting over the nerves that have been causing me to mess up public performances. Your point about shorter segments of practice is well made. I'll give that a try.

Leadfingers: Rob's comment about Octave Mandolin (Or should it be Octave Mandola?)

It seems to be called an Octave Mandolin. The Octave Mandolas made by the same manufacturer have a scale length of 542 mm (21.34 ins) whereas the Octave Mandolin I have has scale length 610 mm (24.01 ins). The Bouzouki from the same source has a scale of 660 mm (25.98 ins). I'm told that the Octave Mandolin is often called in the USA a "short scale Bouzouki".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 04:18 AM

I had a "Rob Naylor" moment yesterday - on violin. I've been playing about 15 months now (started when I was 64) and I'm not doing too badly. I normally practice between 1 to 3 hours a day, depending on other commitments. However I picked the thing up for a 20-minute practice yesterday afternoon. Result? Total f*ck*ng rubbish! It just wouldn't hang together. Crap bowing, wrist as stiff as a broom handle, left hand all over the place. In a word - shite. So the only thing to do yesterday was just put it away and pick up "No. 18" (my new guitar - and the number doesn't refer to how many guitars I have but to the serial number inside the instrument!)

This crap practice experience doesn't happen very often, but - just now and then - it does happen. Which is one of the reasons I haven't yet taken the violin to a session. So I do understand the frustrations of learning an instrument... :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 04:59 AM

So, Will, a crap session has now become a "Rob Naylor moment" in the Mudcat lexicon, eh?

Oh well, if one can't be *famous* at least one can be *infamous* :-)

What make's the new guitar? With a s/n of 18 it's either something nice from an individual luthier or a very early model from one of the bigger boys. There are a couple of decent luthiers down your way, I understand...waiting lists of about 3 years!

Was it Martin Carthy who said "if a man knows how many guitars he's got, he hasn't got enough"?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:07 AM

I think[wills experience] happens to everyone,its probably due tobeing under th weather or sligtly run down or just tired,best not to practice in those circumstances or to do something really important but simple like the pencil exercise for improving wrist flexibilty.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:26 AM

No, Rob - a "Rob Naylor" moment is a statement of sympathy for all musicians who are learning an instrument and experience one of those soul-destroying moments when it just doesn't go right. Your initial post summed up the frustrations perfectly. Would I insult someone who was the very first customer for my recent album with Alan Day? Never.

"No. 18" is a medium-sized jumbo made 2 years ago by my old friend, neighbour, fellow band member and luthier, Ian Chisholm. He included it in his annual exhibition at the Blue Shed Open House in Ditchling (part of the Brighton Festival) after playing it himself for two years. While I was helping him to get the exhibition in place, he casually mentioned he was selling it. After a massive amount of thought - roughly 30 seconds - I said I'd buy it. You can see some working pics of it here.

I already have 3 instruments by Ian, a classical guitar and a matching commissioned tenor guitar & mandolin. So No. 18 is number 4 for me - and I've also commissioned a parlour guitar from him. In fact, we did a tour of local specialist wood suppliers just 3 days ago to choose my wood. The back and sides will be streaked Cocobolo, and the face will be Engleman spruce. We're currently discussing the possibility of a Lowden-style bridge - where there are no bridge pegs, and the strings go directly and horizontally through the bridge.

And, finally, you can see the beast in action, being played on Avalon. I'm bringing it to High Brooms on 24th - have a go on it and see what you think!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 09:44 AM

Will...I was being facetious! I knew it was a statement of sympathy rather than an insult...I should have put an extra smiley in after the "eh?" perhaps.

You certainly seem to be blessed with a great selection of luthiers in your neck of the woods. I've been checking out Nick Benjamin, Alex Willis, Richard Osborne and Ian Chisholm in advance of the day I may consider myself worthy of a custom instrument (some way off, definitely).

And what a lovely-looking, clean and elegant guitar No 18 is! Sounds great, too...I'll look forward to seeing it at High Brooms. Not sure I'd have the cheek to try and play it though...too good for the likes of me just yet. But if you insist, I might be persuaded to run my fingers over the strings :-) . It'll probably be the nicest instrument to grace High Brooms.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 09:54 AM

There has been some press recently that "anyone" can learn "any" skill with 10,000 hours of practice. That probably accounts for the fact that people who start young are good in adulthood. It probably means that at 66 I'll never have time to learn a proper musical instrument or (thank goodness) take up golf. Mind you there are some amazing teenage musicians around. Their parents must be relieved that's all they were doing locked in their room for all those hours!


RtS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 10:42 AM

I think that the idea that it's all "nurture" and no "nature" is just ludicrous.

Yes, people who practice a skill for a long time will get better at it, but that doesn't alter the fact that there are people who are naturally talented at certain activities and will attain superior performance with a much lower level of practice than someone without the talent.

As a youngster, I could have practiced for 20,000 hours and never achieved the same level of football skill as, say, Rio Ferdinand would have had after, say, 1000 hours of practice. I just don't have the coordination for it.

My son achieved 11 A* GCSEs, 2 years early, 5 grade A "A" levels and 2 distinctions in extension papers, a year early, without doing a stroke of academic work. I don't mean he was doing it in secret...he had no *time* to have been doing it as he was doing so many other things at the same time. He did no work during term times, and we were constantly getting calls from his teachers about his course work being about to miss deadlines. He did one whole section of one piece of coursework sitting at the breakfast table on deadline day, off the top of his head, with no preparation, and still got a great mark for it. His History teacher said that in 20 years at the school he was probably the brightest boy he'd taught. He was also the laziest, most intractable, most uncommunicative and most difficult to deal with and therefore, despite his excellent academic results, the teacher felt unable to recommend him for a place at Cambridge!

The teacher was right...he's great at passing exams, but lousy at applying himself to learning. Everything came so easily to him up to university level that he never learned *how* to work.

The one thing he *did* work at was rock-climbing, going from being scared of heights at 11 to *almost* cutting edge level by the time he was 16. I was much more proud of him for this achievement that he'd worked at than I was for his effortless academic success. However, he did put in loads of time climbing, whereas 2 lads who he climbed with a lot did end up in the national competition team, despite actually putting in far fewer hours than he did. They just had more talent for it than he did.

In contrast, my older daughter had to work like crazy at school to achieve a selection of As and Bs, but she works *very* hard at uni and may well end up with a First Class degree. Son dropped out of his course at the end of year 1.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 12:47 PM

I've been checking out Nick Benjamin, Alex Willis, Richard Osborne and Ian Chisholm in advance of the day I may consider myself worthy of a custom instrument (some way off, definitely).

Ian uses Nick as a "consultant" when there's a particularly interesting technical detail to work out. He's also currently building an archtop mandolin at a series of workshops with Richard Osborne.

We're very lucky to have a clutch of excellent luthiers clustered in and around Lewes - and also very lucky to have some good specialist wood dealers so close. Bob, who runs Timberline in Tonbridge, is also a part-time luthier, and Dave Dyke, who has his own wood business in Horam, is a skilled player.

(Don't worry about the extra smiley - my tongue was also glued to the inside of my cheek!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:05 PM

Think of your playing as an old, comfortable coat - practice until you can wear it that easily. Takes a while. Don't consider being worthy of a custom built instrument - rather, think of an instrument which will give you the tonal rewards for your efforts. After all, you're paying for it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Stringsinger
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 01:27 PM

Rob, there's another angle. Apparently the brain's neurons are attached to the auditory areas. When you practice, you change the brain. Testing reveals that these neurons are stimulated when practiced and then, here's the interesting part, they are also stimulated
by thinking and hearing in your mind without playing. In short, practicing "in your head" away from the instrument helps.

Another factor, you can literally practice in your sleep. Before retiring, go over the pattern you want to learn, think about it and in the early waking hours of sleep, it will congeal. You wake up the next morning knowing it better without having to have spent hours playing it.

If you are interested in a solo fingerpicking approach to the guitar, learn some classical pieces and there are good transcriptions of Chet Atkin's arrangements. (I think they have tab).

The best thing is to start at a playable level. You might want to check out Happy Traum's
basic arrangements of folk tunes (Homespuntapes.com). If you can learn to read music
on the guitar (if you don't already) you will save hours of time learning tunes.

The problem is that some people are endowed with a finger dexterity gene which means they can accomplish more technically than others. Emanuel is certainly an example.
Knowing where you are, in this, helps you decide what material is best to work on.
For example, I wouldn't advise attempting Lenny Breau's "The Claw" at this point.
In short, "grade" your material to your accomplishable level. Don't "bite off more than you can chew", so to speak.

The frustration level occurs when you attempt something beyond your playing level.
The approach best taken is learning a variety of tunes at your level and gradually moving forward. This has nothing to do with musicianship but it's about physical proficiency.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 01:56 PM

some people are endowed with a finger dexterity gene which means they can accomplish more technically than others

Now - that's fascinating. I've never heard of this. Can you point me to some documentation which deals with the subject? I suppose I'm a believer in the ascendancy of "nurture" over "nature", but I'd like to read more about this theory.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: PoppaGator
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 04:04 PM

I started playing and learning back in 1963, and aspired to be a fingerpicker right from the git-go.

At first, of course, I simply played arpeggios, and then progressed to using the same little "pattern" for each measure of a song. The pattern that I found (in a Stephan Grossman book) featured a steady alternating bass to be played by the thumb, along with a series of notes to be picked by the finger(s), including a "pinch" (simultaneous bass and treble note) to begin each measure, followed by a series of treble notes played in-between the bass notes.

The next step was to insert some simple walking-bass sequences at the chord changes while maintaining the repetitive pattern ~ and then the next BIG step was to learn entire fingerpicked pieces, which I approached as sequences of patterns, where each measure was played to its own unique "pattern." For example, pieces like "Freight Train," "My Creole Belle," etc.

I had always read about how traditional Travis-type picking and Delta-blues picking, etc., featured a treble melody-line played with the fingers "independently" of the steady on-the-beat bass line played by the thumb. I found it impossible to make any progress, or even to get started, when trying to think and to play an "independent" melody while keeping up a steady, correctly-rhythmic bass part. I was only able to play labriously learned measures of fngerpicking, eventually falling into an easy steady rhythm. I had to learn semi-complex pieces by rote, and then to play them over and over again, for years, before my fingers were able to develop their independence from my thumb.

Only by actually playing musical phrases, and entire songs, which combined a steady bass line beneath a more complex melody, was I able to develop a muscle-memory of the independent operation of my left thumb vs. my left index-and-middle fingers.

I think it was a good 25-30 years or more-or-less "rote" playing of pieces learned laboriously from tablature before my thumb and fingers finally became sufficiently independent of each other for me to play freely on the upper strings while keeping a steady thump-thump going on the bass strings. It shouldn't take that long for someone who keeps at it ~ I gradually began playing less and less for several years, eventually almost stopping completely, before getting back into playing much more recently.

What I'm trying to say, in summary, is to be patient with yourself and keep at it. Ingraining the many aspects of playing an instrrument into your brain and into your muscle memory is a very complex process that requires repetition on a regular basis. Don't be disappointed with yourself, just keep at it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,Ashley -Rag Mama Rag
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 05:52 AM

Hi
sounds like you are doing fine to me. When I started playing I was in my teens and would practice for hours on end. Although I now play a lot,(I am 52) I practice from time to time, but know I would not have the tenacity to practice more than an hour or so at a time. I sometimes give guitar workshops and see how frustrating it can be for people to pick stuff up. I would say keep at it. Practice tunes very slowly but keep the rhythm going. Only speed up after you can play a tune slowly and precisely.

Good luck
Ashley
www.rag-mama-rag.com


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 06:15 AM

Melissa: Rob,
That clip sounds fine to me.
Thanks for posting it.

You've got a good ear for pitch/timing. If you're consistent, you'd be a lot more pleasant to mingle guitars with than a large percentage of the fairly-beginners I run into here.


Thanks for the critique...that's a good ego boost. I'm reasonably consistent at that level of difficulty, but as soon as I try anything more complex, it's pot luck as to how it goes....sometimes it'll work OK, often I fumble and lose it.

I'll put a couple of more complex pieces up soon and you may see what I mean :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 06:36 AM

Vulgar; Stringsinger; PoppaGator and Ashley:

MANY Thanks for all the pointers, tips and comments.

It'll be a while before I can wear my playing like an "old comfortable coat" I think.

I also agree that my ambition level often runs away with my technical level, so I'm always trying pieces that are too hard for where I'm at currently.

The "learning by rote" is at the moment the only way I can do more complex stuff, and it takes me ages ( I love Will Fly's YouTube teaching vids...but often need to step through them one frame at a time to slow down the picking demos to a speed where my brain can process them :-) )

The speed thing's another failing that I need to work on...I'm impatient, so rather than practice very slowly until I've got a good rhythm and a precise tune, I'll speed up as soon as it sounds "OK-ish" and then wonder why the fingering/ picking precision goes all to pot.

So much to learn, so little time...............


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 06:40 AM

Hi rob

You seem to be doing OK to me.

As most people here recommend , so would I that practice is the key to progress.

Some people take more readily too practice than others and so they will progress more rapidly than others who don't. That is just part of life. Some have to work more hard than others on certain things.

For me I found that I do not relish practice that much and am easily distracted. I found that I first had to identify what is practice and what is just fooling around with what I already know.

So I devised a plan that I work for say 20 minutes at a time on learning something new. Then I rest and come back and work in further 20 minute spells.....and so on

Then I play around with stuff I know but always trying to improve it and change it to my own liking.

Works for me but everyone has their own way of learning.

Like you I seem to plateau and get fed up with aparent lack of progress...this is natural but it is annoying and it is tempting to stop.

Keep going you will improve but you will never be as good as you want to be. That too is natural.

Cheers

MikeL2


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Tangledwood
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 07:27 PM

I also agree that my ambition level often runs away with my technical level, so I'm always trying pieces that are too hard for where I'm at currently.

That's a good thing isn't it, just as long as you recognise it and don't become discouraged? Many people get to a comfortable level and don't attempt to move beyond it.

Years ago at work I heard a manager referring to another staff member "he doesn't have twenty five years experience, he has one years experience twenty five times.".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 08:54 PM

That bit about your left hand saying "F Off - This is how - just came true for me - Trying to remember a Chord run I used to do YEARS back , and grinding to a shuddering halt . all of a sudden the BbM7
was there again ! The Brain Cell couldnt remember it but the Fingers did !!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Crowhugger
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 10:57 PM

By trial and error I discovered that I like to use a slow song containing whatever I want to learn. That way I can have some feeling success that much sooner, and avoid at least some of the frustration that comes from not being able to play new patterns (chords and/or picking) at desired speed.

The most notable example of this I can recall: As a 20-someting in the late 70's I figured it was time to master barre chords. Being a Grateful Dead fan at the time (okay, still am) I decided to learn High Times, which is in E and chock full of barred chords on 2nd and 4th frets. Yet it has a slow, rocking kind of beat that is very forgiving to beginners. While I was developing calluses on my index finger, it was even slower. I still use it as a warm-up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 12:38 PM

On the subject of getting stuck:

It would nice to never get stuck and some people may have this ability. However, for mere mortals, the next best thing is to learn how to avoid getting stuck and to know how to to get unstuck when it happens.

I think the best way to do these things is to learn to play by ear.

Theoretically, if you can hum, whistle or sing a tune, you can play it on the guitar (at least the melody). In practice, most people who aren't blessed with perfect pitch have trouble doing this. The reason for most people is that they've practiced all kinds of other things, but never this most basic skill.

I've found that it's mostly a matter of intuition with some knowledge involved. Any knowledge is good, but all the knowledge in the world won't do you any good unless you have the intuition. On the other hand, there have always been people without much knowledge but loads of intuition, and some of these people are among the best instrumentalists. (I believe a lot of people like this have perfect pitch.) Just to be clear, intuition isn't some magical thing that only the chosen few have: everybody has it, some more, some less. It needs to be exercised, though.

The way to practice playing by ear couldn't be simpler: just sit down and try to figure out the melody of any song. This is something that has helped me a lot in recent years and I've gotten pretty good at it (though not perfect).

Some people memorize by visualizing the notes; I used to memorize by motor memory. I can't speak for people who visualize, but with motor memory, it's easy to get stuck and a matter of luck to get unstuck. However, I hardly ever forget how a melody goes and when I play by ear, I might make mistakes because I can't do it perfectly, but I hardly ever get stuck. What sometimes happens is that I forget what tune I'm playing, especially if I'm improvising (something I still don't do as well as I'd like to), but that's simply a matter of not paying attention to what I'm doing.

My recommendation for what to practice is: major scales. All over the fingerboard until you know them inside and out. And say the names of the notes out loud when you're playing them. Otherwise, it's just a mechanical exercise. Also, all kinds of arpeggios. These things will help a lot with learning to play by ear.

As far as harmony goes, one does develop a sense of what chords go with a section of melody. Again, it's a combination of intuition and knowledge. Just sit down and try to figure out the chords to some song or other. You're not a pharmacist; it doesn't have to be perfect. The chords to folk and rock songs are almost always pretty easy to figure out.

There's no getting around it: Building up a repertoire is real work and takes time. However, it's much more effective to learn songs by learning the melody and the harmonies rather than specific chord forms (a.k.a. voicings), picking patterns, licks, riffs, or whatever. If you can play a melody by ear and develop your intuition and knowledge about harmony, you can sort of "reproduce" the song at any time.

I have also found it to be true that I eventually began to pick more freely, whereas I remember being "stuck" picking in patterns and didn't understand how to break out of them. Eventually, it just happened. I'm not really convinced of the value of pattern-picking; on the other hand, I did it a lot in the past, so maybe it was useful to me.

One thing I'm sure has helped me is playing chord melodies, that is, playing the melody on the higher strings and finding voicings for the chords in those positions. This will take you all over the fingerboard and also helps a lot with knowing what the individual notes are in the various chord forms.

One thing you could practice is playing the melody on the higher strings while alternating the tonic and the fifth on the lower strings with your thumb. It will be difficult at first, but I think this is a good way of learning to pick more freely. Then, it will be easier to make it fancier.

I hope these comments are of some use to you.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 01:34 PM

For those interested, there is a guitar day at Fishguard, Pembs with Gareth Pearson. Looks great value with workshops, open mic and concert for £10
http://www.aberjazz.com/2010/html/bios-extras.html


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 07:01 AM

I tried learning guitar from the Mel Bay folk guitar book. It wasn't working. I had had a few piano lessons and knew a little theory, just like you, Rob.

I went back the music store and bought a classical guitar book. With it, I was able to understand the instrument better and to build the chord I wanted by placing one finger at a time. Thus, I could play arpeggios well before I could strum.

Rob, you mentioned playing tunes. Were you aware that a classical guitarist thinks of a scale as being a block of frets within a small area of the neck? In the folk world there is a kind of playing called 'Carter style' which goes way up and down the neck, and I suspect it's actually pretty inefficient.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Bobert
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 07:42 AM

Like I said earlier in this thread, do what you can do well at least some of the time as a reward for pushing yourself to imprint the new stuff...

BTW, I've played many a private party in my day and you wouldn't believe how many people come up to me and say, "Gee, I tried to learn guitar but I never got anywhere with it..." to which I say...

"Well, if you can half-way sing I can have you doing a song in 5 minutes..."

I've had a few of them take me up on it and I find a quiet spot with them and show them how to make a 1st position Em chord which everyone with two fingers can do and then I show them how to just strum down the strings (no back picking or struming, just simple down, down, down over the strings with their fingernail... Then I give them a couple verses of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and...

...WALAA!!!

They are doing a song and accompanying themselves on geetar...

The lesson here is that "even a caveman" can do it...lol...

But really... Just imprint a few songs that you find easy and add to them... No one was born knowing how to play these things...

Good luck and if it ain't fun, don't do so...

...make it fun!!!

B~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 06:19 PM

Leeneia, the perpetual GUEST ;^): My understanding of "Carter style" (which may or may not be entirely correct) is that it involves a lot of "boom-chucks" (bass-string-plus-chord), with the on-the-beat "bass" notes providing the melody, or an approximation of a song's melody ~ AND that it played mostly in first position, not all up-and-down the neck.

Also, blues (and blues/rock) players, as well as classical players, "think of a scale as being a block of frets within a small area of the neck." Of course, the more rudimentary approaches to the blues rely upon a simple five-notes-per-octave scale, while classical music involves a wide variety of different major/minor/modal scales.

**********

Rob: We all have different "learning styles," and what works/worked for me might not be the best apprach for you. But you can probably learn something from each person's suggestions.

I learned the hard way that, for me, it was not really possible to mentally grasp a relatively-complicated passage or riff first, and then to expect that my hands could follow. For me, it was necessary to first ~ slowly and laboriously ~ train my fingers to actually move as desired, gradually gaining speed and dexterity, and only much later become able to "think" a variation or improvisation and have the fingers repond to the imagination.

I am thinking mostly about the problem of mentally and physically "separating" a steady bass-string beat with the thumb while adding a layer of melody with the fingers. It took me years of playing strictly structured "patterns," and entire memorized verses of songs, before I slowly began to find an ability to throw in a few upper-register grace notes of my own while keeping up the steady bass. I had been persuaded that I "should" have been able to play more freely on the high notes while thumping along on the bass, found that I could not do it, and gave up, resigning myself to sticking with what I was able to learn by rote. Only after continued practice/playing within my perceived limitations did I eventually develop a bit more fluidity and freedom.

So ~ DON'T "give up," just keep playing as well as you can. Sooner or later, you ought to begin finding skills that you had previously never expected.

And, like Bobert just pointed out, don't "punish" yourself by devoting all your time to practicing difficult stuff. It may seem critically important to keep challenging yourself with new tasks requiring increased skills, but it's just as important to keep playing simple and familiar pieces freely and easily.

If you hope to eventually master the difficult stuff and play it with appropriate personality and musicality (i.e., freely), it's just as important to maintain your practice of playing "easy" pieces well as it is to work on the difficult pieces that you can play only slowly and laboriously. That's the best way to maintain your ability to play with a fresh and pleasurable feeling.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 07:01 PM

Start simple is my advice. Start with some country or blues songs, with three chords. Get the rhythm down, just strumming, no need to get so fancy yet- and in time add more complicated songs to your playlist. Don't bust yourself up, it's all for fun.

And find a GOOD teacher, one who's patient and intuitive to work with. I DO think it's harder to learn something new when you're older, but you can certainly learn to play guitar better.

Playing with others is also a helpful inspiration, join a slow jam or music club that has song circles. Watching other players, besides listening to them, will get you going in no time. And if all else fails, try playing the harmonica- you can hit a wrong note, but you can never hit a bad note.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:13 AM

Once again, thanks everyone for keeping the encouragement coming.

Mike L2: The original frustration that I felt *came* from practicing....the fact that I could get something right 10-12 times and them next time I tried it I'd be "Mr Fumble Fingers". I wasn't talking about the situation Will describes above where you start practicing and quickly realise that it's a "non musical" day so best give up and try later, but a day when things are going OK.

I do split practices into chunks where I work for a while on something new, or that I'm finding difficult, and then play somthing I'm comfortable with.

Tangledwood: Yeah, it's good to challenge yourself...but can be frustrating. I think I's slowly starting to learn to art of sussing out what's "possible" for me now and what's "wait a year or two before trying that again"! Things will hopefully go better once I'm better "calibrated" when looking at whether something's within or near my current capabilities.

On the practice front, I'm probably not doing enough scales. I'll do a few to warm up usually, and then go straight into a piece. I think a major change I'm going to make is to really get to grips with scales and learn the fingerboard as well as I can. It's very patchy at the moment.

Piers Plowman: Some excdllent tips, thanks!

I've been trying to play by ear for a while...often cheating a bit by learning from a YouTube video so I can see fingers as well :-) . I can pick up basic melodies, but sorting out chord sequences or complex fingering and getting them to sound right is something I'm finding hard. Incidentally I'm finding it much easier to pick up melodies using my new octave mandolin. The tuning intervals seem to "suit my ear better" somehow But there's a big difference between picking up the melody to, say, Ashokan Farewell on the mando and picking up the middle guitar solo that Russ Barenberg does on "Drummers of England"....I'm STILL struggling with that after months, although I can play the basic melody (as per Will Fly's YouTube vid) no problem.

I defintiely use motor memory rather than visualisation.

Leenia: I'm aware of the "block of frets approach...I've just not been very systematic until now in applying it :-(

Bobert: Oh, it's fun, definitely, mostly. And a huge sense of achievement when I finally crack something that's been giving me problems. Bashing out chords I can do, and I'm now starting to sing and bash chords at the same time...even in public a few times now.

It's what I call "real" guitar playing that's been frustrating me: the style Will describes so well above. I think that I just have to realise that ability to play like that ( Will F: Playing a more complex fingerpicked tune - i.e. where the melodic line is not tied rhythmically or harmonically to the rhythm or the chord pattern ) is something that'll take years to develop properly, not the scant 2 that I've been playing. I think, looking back at my OP on this thread, that I probably had unrealistic expectations of where I "should" be after 2 years of averaging an hour a day practice. Many posts here have reassured my that I'm probably at a pretty reasonable skill level for the time I've been playing. So that's reduced my frustration immediately :-)

Poppagator: Again, great advice, thanks. I'm definitely at the "slowly and laboriously training my fingers" stage...but now more accepting that this is probably normal for many, rather than me being a uniquely incompetent learner :-)

Lefthanded guitar: I've been playing for a couple of years, and straightforward chord-bashing is OK for me (thoygh I still need to improve rhythm patern strumming). It's the more complex fingerstyle stuff that's been bothering me. I've had a few lessons, with 2 different teachers, but I've found that I do better on my own...certainly once I discovered the on-line tutorials that Will Fly and a few others do, although I have picked up some really good tips from my most recent teacher.

And I have started playing at singarounds. The first couple were a disaster, but the nerves are starting to come under control a bit now, and the last session was much better (though I still fumbled a bit). I'm actually looking forward to the next one now, rather than worrying about it :-)

Thanks, everyone. I'll try and record a few more pieces next week and put them on esnips to get some critical feedback.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 07:44 AM

Playing up and down on a single string is good. Position playing is also good.

Playing up and down on a single string is good for a number of reasons. The best one is: It sounds good. Each string has its own timbre, so if you play a melody on a single string the notes will sound more alike than if you play them on different strings.

The next best one is: It feels great. Just try it!

It's also good because the intervals are right there in front of you, all you have to do is look.

I think it's also easier to play spontaneously on a single-string than using positions, though that gets easier with practice.

By the way, it helps a lot to whistle, hum or sing when improvising or playing by ear. It makes it easier to hit the right notes, for some reason. I do this occasionally.

The ability to play on a single string is very useful when you have to (or want to) make a long jump and also for shifting positions.

Also, if a string breaks while you're playing, you can cope a lot better if you can play up and down single strings. If you only know to play using positions, you're in trouble.

One thing to try is playing an E major scale (or some other scale) _smoothly_ from the low end of the guitar up to the highest notes. It works best to shift a position or two at a time, instead of playing as much as possible in first position and then trying to get into a higher position in one go. And then back down, of course.

Playing up and down single strings (or several single strings, if you know what I mean) is the way melodies are usually played with a slide.

I usually play a mixture of positions and going up and down single strings. I don't really have to think about it anymore (though I do have to practice because I don't always hit the right notes).

Major scales are good because the chords built from the major scale are the basis of harmony. If you know the major scales inside and out, it's not very difficult to learn other scales. I find that it's not really necessary to learn dozens of other scales if you can play by ear. If you know the major scales and the various arpeggios, you will have already mastered this material. Constructing other scales is sort of just expressing the same things in a different way.

That is, if you know the major scales and the various possible alterations, flatted fifth, augmented fifth, minor third, etc., and are able to hear things in your head and play what you hear in your head on the guitar, you've got the information and the skills you need. Then, when you're playing, you can forget about positions, scales, argeggios and whatever. I'd heard this idea before, but it took me years before I got it.

People say you have to crawl before you can walk, but it is also true that if a person can already walk, or even run, you're not helping him by making him crawl, even if it's the newest, most modern, up-to-date method of crawling developed by an elite team of music educators.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 08:06 AM

About positions:

I suggest that you try thinking of it this way:

If you put your hand on the fingerboard, you can cover four adjacent frets on each string with your first, second, third and fourth fingers. This is a minor third, e.g., on the sixth string from the first fret, F, F#, G and Ab. If we allow shifting, we can get up to A, which is a major third. On the next string over, the note on the first fret is Bb, which is the fourth of F and by an amazing coincidence, the next note in F maj. after the A under our little finger on the sixth string.

In this position (frets 1 through 5 with a single shift), we can play seven major scales: On the sixth string, the scales starting with the notes F at fret 1, G at fret 3 (with the shift), A at fret 5. Then on the fifth string, Bb at fret 1, C at fret 3 and D at fret 5.
On the fourth string, just Eb at fret 1. That's seven scales.

Now, shift down a fret and do the same thing starting at Gb. We get seven scales again: Gb, Ab and Bb on the sixth string, B Db and Eb on the fifth and E on the fourth.

That's a total of 14 scales, with two duplicates, namely Bb and Eb:

F G A Bb C D Eb
Gb Ab Bb B Db Eb E

Rearranged a leaving out the duplicates:

F Gb G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E

That's all there are, since F# and Gb, C# and Db, etc., are the same on the guitar.

So, in a single position, you can play 7 major scales and in the next position you can also play seven major scales and you end up with all twelve of the major scales in any two adjacent positions with no more than a single shift for any of these scales. Isn't that amazing?

But wait, there's more! For a given key, say, C, you can play the major scale in all of these seven forms. Depending on the key, it will be in a different place on the fingerboard, and spread out from low to high.

Many other scales fit in with this pattern and just vary with respect to a few intervals. The natural minor and other modes use exactly the same fingerings but use different tones as the tonic. Some other scales don't fit this pattern, especially symmetrical scales and/or ones that repeat every few frets like the whole-tone, half-whole and whole-half scales.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 08:34 AM

I really should clock back in and do some work, but funnily enough I'd rather post on Mudcat. Go figure.

Two years really isn't a very long time. I started learning to play the guitar when I was 20 and I am now 47. I didn't play very well after 2 years. Of course, it isn't the years that count, it's the hours, but you are putting in the hours. So, don't worry. Sure, one learns better when one is younger and you've got physical problems with your hands and arms. These are things we can't do much about. I have nearly constant pain in my hands but it's manageable at present and I expect that I'll be able to keep playing the guitar. We all just have to learn to work within our limitations and see where we can maybe do a bit more than we think we can.

Learning the fingerboard is hard work. There are some places where I know without thinking what the note is and places where I have to stop and figure it out. I play a classical guitar without dots on the fretboard, which makes things more difficult. I think dots are great. Some people may look down on fretboard dots, but looking back, I don't really believe that learning to play without them has made me a better person.

When I'm playing by ear or improvising (which are really just two sides of the same coin), I often don't know what notes I'm playing, but I do know what sounds I'm trying to make and (when I'm playing well), these are the ones that I'm playing. One's different skills work together, motor memory, having played from the written music and remembering it partially, knowing scales and arpeggios, music theory, whatever. It's like having a bag of tricks and being able to pick the one you need at any given moment. So, you don't have to perfect in any one discipline.

Anyway, I hope these long postings of mine are of some use to you (and possibly others). Please try not to be frustrated. It's easier to get fast results with a guitar than with many other instruments, but when one tries to play more than just simple accompaniments it's not an easy instrument.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Learning The Guitar: Frustration
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 08:36 AM

"It's like having a bag of tricks and being able to pick the one you need at any given moment."

Actually, it's more like the right one leaping by itself into your hand at the right moment.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 21 July 1:34 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.