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Help: My Developing Guitar Skills

GUEST,Sue T. 29 Mar 06 - 09:11 AM
jeffp 29 Mar 06 - 09:55 AM
mandotim 29 Mar 06 - 10:07 AM
Louie Roy 29 Mar 06 - 10:22 AM
Alaska Mike 29 Mar 06 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Sue 29 Mar 06 - 10:46 AM
Panny 29 Mar 06 - 12:07 PM
Louie Roy 29 Mar 06 - 12:43 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 29 Mar 06 - 01:42 PM
Leadfingers 29 Mar 06 - 01:43 PM
Kaleea 29 Mar 06 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Tim H. 29 Mar 06 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,M.Ted 29 Mar 06 - 08:46 PM
Panny 29 Mar 06 - 10:14 PM
Bert 30 Mar 06 - 01:08 AM
GUEST,Pam C. 30 Mar 06 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,Grab 30 Mar 06 - 08:32 AM
Maryrrf 30 Mar 06 - 08:46 AM
Dave Wynn 30 Mar 06 - 11:08 AM
Steve Benbows protege 30 Mar 06 - 12:18 PM
Peter T. 30 Mar 06 - 04:05 PM
Don Firth 30 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM
Bert 30 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Eleanor C 30 Mar 06 - 06:36 PM
Don Firth 30 Mar 06 - 07:09 PM
Willie-O 30 Mar 06 - 08:45 PM
Phil Cooper 30 Mar 06 - 10:07 PM
GUEST,Sue 31 Mar 06 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Alley 31 Mar 06 - 09:31 AM
PoppaGator 31 Mar 06 - 10:13 AM
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Subject: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Sue T.
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 09:11 AM

I've been teaching myself folk guitar accompaniment since mid-2003. I can play in the keys of C,A,G,E and D. I can fingerpick and strum different rhythms(sp)cleanly. I'm still working to smooth out the chord changes of Am and E, E and B7, Em and B7, G and Bm, Am and Dm. I can see progress from my hard work. I've also taught myself to pick out melodies while fingerpicking. I played the guitar in public performance once in 2004 and once in 2005. I'm going to play out more this year, as well as find "others" to play with. My playing is at the late stage of beginner and intermediate. The reason I say late beginner is because I'm still working to polish a few chord changes smoothly. I wanted to see if anyone has any tips and/or suggestions to help me in my continuing growth as a guitarist. I use the guitar to accompany my singing and practice about two hours each day. I've never had a teacher (can't afford one at this time.) I will not give up on my dream of singing and accompanying myself in public.

Cheers,
Sue


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: jeffp
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 09:55 AM

Sounds like you're making pretty good progress. What I really think would help you is to find a friend or two to swap songs with. That way you get exposed to different ways of doing things, different interpretations, and such. It also helps you to nail down your consistency in tempo, rhythm and phrasing. You don't mention your location, but I imagine Catters would be happy to share with you if you are in their area.

Keep on having fun with it!

jeffp


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: mandotim
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 10:07 AM

Get out there and play, girl! A wise acquaintance of mine once said 'In the forest, if only the best bird sang, it would be a very quiet place'. Don't get hung up on the need for technical excellence; there are lots of fabulous performers who are no more than barely competent on guitar (Bob Dylan, for one); it's about expressing yourself and the song, not showing off your virtuosity. Don't be afraid to play with people who have more skill; musicians are usually a generous bunch, and will help you improve. Copy anyone you think plays well. Chances are you won't get an accurate copy; this is called 'your own interpretation'. Final thought; it's not about a blizzard of fast notes, it's about tone and musicality.
Good luck!
Tim from Bit on the Side


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Louie Roy
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 10:22 AM

Chord changes are easily made if you educate your fingers and what I mean by that your fingers automatically go to the chord thatis next in line.Timing is probably one of the hardest things to accomplish playing by your self and you will establish some habits that will take you years to overcome.I suggest you contact other musicians in your area and start playing with them and this is the only way you will learn timing and correct chord changes.I assumed you were learning to play by ear.Where are you located I'm sure there are other mudcatters near by that would be very happy to help you out also most musicians will also help if they know you truly want help.The bad habits I learned playing by myself the first 10 years it took me the next 60 years to correct so don't make the same mistakes I did.Louie Roy


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 10:39 AM

Hi Sue,
Congratulations on your progress. It sounds like you have been diligent in your practice and that always pays off. As others have said here already, try to find other musicians to play with. Check your area for any regular get together like song circles, folk clubs, or open mics where you can not only hone your skills, but also give you an opportunity to observe how others play. When you see someone do something you like, ask them to explain what they did. And keep working at it, don't ever give up.

Best wishse,
Mike


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Sue
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 10:46 AM

Thanks for all the great posts so far! I'm in the Triad of North Carolina. I'm willing to receive help from people in the area.

Thanks again!
Sue


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Panny
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 12:07 PM

Louie Roy - what were some of the bad habits that took you 60 years to correct? I'm a beginner as well.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Louie Roy
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 12:43 PM

Penny there were several,but the ones that you will develope playing alone is timing Not using the proper amount of chords You make the song to fit the chords.As an example many songs I played for years I used 3 chords now I use 7 and 8 chords on the same songs which is what I should have been using in the first place.I play by ear I don't know how to read the sheet music.If you are learning to play by ear I cannot express how important it is to you to find a group to play with and you'll find after being with this group one session some of the bad habits you have already started to develope.Youwill find that there are very few musician that are more than willing to help antone that asks and listen to their advice and as someone else suggested when you see someone do something you don't understand when the tune is over ask them and they will be more than willing to explain


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 01:42 PM

One of the best ways to improve your guitar playing is to put the guitar down and play something else! Most people find that once they've become reasonably proficient on guitar, learning another plucked string instrument is fairly easy. Learning a bit of five-string banjo can't help but improve your fingerpicking on guitar. Playing a bit of mandolin will probably improve your flatpicking. And if you're only playing in standard EBGDAE tuning, get some info on alternate tunings and experiment around with them.

A lot of great stuff can sneak into your guitar playing through the side door if you're willing to let it.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 01:43 PM

When I decided to add strings to my list , a mate gave the 'basic' chord runs in a string of keys - Major , Relative Minor , Dominant and Subdominant - Or as I knew 'em then C Am F G /G7 etc and told me to think Paul Anka's Diana to practice them ! Got me into the idea of making the chord changes in time with the melody , though Diana in C , then G , Then F then A then D and then in E WAS a bit boring !
But more interesting than just playing the chords without a melody line !
   Then you can try doing the same tunes in different time signatures as well !!

             Best of Luck and HAVE FUN !!


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Kaleea
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 01:45 PM

Sue--get to some jams! In your area, there should be bluegrassers. [Bluegrass!?] Our "Folk" style of playing Guitar certainly came from Bluegrass. When I was a teenager & hated everything that resembled "Country &/or Western" Music, I learned the most from the old timers, & a buddy from Kentucky who was raised up in Bluegrass & inserted the Guitar playing into his Folk style.
Listen to & watch the others play, and notice that there are many of them who play as easy as breathing--they are the ones to pay close attention to. When you are playing in the middle of a jam, you can see the chord changes, and the various versions of fingering the chords. You are also forced to keep up-the Music won't stop for you to find a chord. You'll also learn the timing of the chord changes as jeffp mentioned. Observe the many styles of fingerpicking and strumming. Often when strumming, less is more. If you haven't already, learn the G chord without using your index finger--use the middle, ring, & pinkie. Make yourself do it. You will find that it is much faster & smoother.
   Above all, enjoy playing!


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Tim H.
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 08:43 PM

To get better at chord changes, practice moving from chord to chord slowly without strumming with your right hand. Take your time and watch your left hand slowly move from chord to chord. Let me know if I need to explain further.

You can do it!

Tim


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,M.Ted
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 08:46 PM

LouisRoy has got it right--the biggest problem that self-taught guitarists have is with following a tempo--get a metronome and practive playing those chord changes in strict time--

A related problem that self-taught, solo guitarists often have(unless they've had formal training on another instrument) is that they play irregular numbers of beats and measures--16 measures the first time through, 15 1/2 the second time(often because there are less syllables in one verse than another), and maybe two measures between verses on time and three the next time--This habit makes it hard for other musicians to follow you, and can be deadly in the recording studio--

Third bad habit that self-taught musicians have is bad attack--meaning that they don't get a clean, solid, sound out of the instrument, and they don't have control of dynamics--


Fourth bad habit, which you have mentioned, is sloppy fingering--which really means that you don't segue between chords in a systematic and organized way so there is hestitation in some chord changes.

If you have a good teacher from the beginning(and it can be a friend or acquaintance who is doing it without compensation), you won't develop these bad habits--they are hard to recognize, hard to unlearn, and they hold you back--


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Panny
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 10:14 PM

I wanted to suggest that maybe recording yourself while playing and then listening to it would help you recognize bad habits.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Bert
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 01:08 AM

Way to go Sue, keep at it, you're doing really great. It took me years longer than you (and I'm still no bloody good, but don't tell any one).


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Pam C.
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 07:59 AM

Some songs only require two, three or four chords. A lot of it depends on your arrangement of a song, your taste and/or the song itself. It also helps when you already know the song you want to perform. If not, try to find a recording of the song or have someone play the notes for you on piano and record it for playback until you learn the song well. Playing with records will also help with keeping time imho. Listening and playing along to Peter, Paul & Mary, Odetta, Dylan, Joan Baez, etc., helped me a lot. It shouldn't be too hard to find someone to play with in most cases. Have fun...that's what really matters.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Grab
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 08:32 AM

Panny, recording yourself certainly helps, whether you're a beginner or more experienced.

As far as using a teacher goes, there's no need to have it as a weekly expense. If you go once a month, or every 2 months, or 3 months - that's fine. If you're doing really serious stuff then fine, do once a week. But if you're practising at home, every fortnight is the most often you'll need. And if you're a beginner, less than that will be fine bcos it's all about you getting your muscle memory going.

The most cost-effective way to use a teacher for guitar is to get them to fine-tune what you already know. You want them to look at your technique and say "try doing it this way", and then you go away and try it. It's better use of everyone's time, and it's a damn sight cheaper!

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Maryrrf
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 08:46 AM

Don't quit working on your guitar playing, but if you are a strong singer don't let what you perceive as rudimentary guitar skills stop you from performing in public. Just keep your guitar arrangements within the parameters of what you're sure you can handle. A good singer can get away with basic guitar playing - sometimes less is more. All good advice in the threads above.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 11:08 AM

Mondotim hit the nail. Get out and play, anywhere anytime you can. No amout of home practice is equal to stage practice. It's on the stage you make your mistakes and that's where you learn how not to!!

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Steve Benbows protege
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 12:18 PM

Get out and play. I watched a guy for 5yrs sit and watch in my local acoustic club. Once he retired he learnt to play and now takes a turn every week. His confidence has gone up and his technique has improved by performing.

I started by playing washboard in a local band - that got me over the stage fright and my guitar playing i started in a local bluegrass session and a local folk club. I have never looked back. The "Flying Hours" (Playing out or with others) are as important as the theory/ chords/ inversions etc. I may not be the best technical guitarist in the world but I can hear a melody and play it first/2nd time, I can read a guitar players hands in split seconds. That comes of playing out and a neccessity of survival.

Good luck, it is well worth the hard work.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 04:05 PM

Go up the neck! Learn some bar chords and/or versions of chords you can play on some strings and not all, etc. There is a whole pile of the guitar that most people never get to because they are stuck on the open strings at the end of the guitar.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM

All good advice above.

If you have a DVD player or a VCR, there are instruction DVDs and tapes out there that can help a lot.

One I highly recommend for generally improving your guitar playing is "Pumping Nylon," by Scott Tennant. You can get it either DVD or tape. Click HERE and scroll down. There's a book, too, but it requires that you be able to read music—however, there is an edition of the book that includes both standard notation and tablature. But either the DVD or the tape alone would do the job.

It's specifically aimed at classical guitarists, but it isn't a "How to Play the Classic Guitar" video. It can apply to any style of guitar, from folk to rock to jazz to you name it. He talks about hand positions a bit, but it's with the idea of keeping your hands relaxed, "cocked, and ready." It's mostly a collection of warm-ups, practice exercises, and "calisthenics" he has put together. They're aimed at increasing the finger strength, speed, and dexterity of both hands. You don't need to be able to read music; he shows you what to do. Just playing through some of the stuff he demonstrates has really improved my playing a lot and helped me shed some bad habits that I picked up early on .

Among other things, Tennant says that most guitarists use a whole lot more pressure fretting the strings than they really need to (a habit we get into when we're first learning and our fingers are not all that strong yet), and that keeps the hand tense and inhibits rapid finger movement and fast chord changes. He shows you how to find out just how much pressure you really need, and how to "lighten up." Keeping the hands as relaxed as possible is all-important.

Some of his exercises are real "finger-busters," but if you take 'em slow and easy over a period of time, there won't be much you can't do on a guitar.

It sounds like you're really dedicated. Great! Good luck and good pickin'!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Bert
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM

Maryrrf said - don't let what you perceive as rudimentary guitar skills stop you from performing in public.

She's right it never stopped me.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Eleanor C
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 06:36 PM

Hi Sue,
I am evangelical about the website guitar advice of Jamie Andreas, because her tips got me from nervous 4 chord bedroom guitarist to fast fingerpicking showoff in a mere 2 years. I feel I can tackle anything I want to play now. Her teaching is really ergonomics, attitude and detailed advice about hand positions, chord changes, chiefly how to practice the right things to get results. As a gal who "will not give up on her dream" I know you are the perfect candidate to be helped by Jamie! And the stuff on the website is free. www.guitarprinciples.com
I wish you were in the uK so we could jam, cheers Eleanor


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 07:09 PM

Excellent web site, Eleanor. Here's a LINK.

The "Walking Exercise" is one of the ones that Scott Tennant shows on "Pumping Nylon." All kinds of variations.

Good stuff!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 08:45 PM

Bert is so right... ;)

As a corollary to the suggestions that learning to keep a steady tempo is important to focus on as you practice...that is (assuming you are right-handed) building RIGHT HAND TECHNIQUE is what will get you there. The hand too often overlooked--but it doesn't matter how simple, or how complex, your left hand work is, developing a smooth, confident, flowing and timely right hand (whether strumming or fingerpicking) is the mark of a player who has mastered the level they are at. As an example, the late Stan Rogers was never a flashy player, but he was a superb accompanist because his right hand was so smooth it made his guitar part an organic component of whatever song he was singing.

And the other corollary; metronomes (or the rhythm section of any cheap electronic keyboard) are useful, but to really make use of them, learn to count the beats as you play. Once you can do this, you will be your own metronome. (Then, when you start to play with other folks more, count in at the beginning and you will sound cool.)

You're doing great, eh!

W-O


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 10:07 PM

Sue,

   As a self taught guitarist, your path is very parallel to mine. Play with others to get a sense of tempo. I went from song accompanyment to playing some instrumentals, which got me in to alternate tunings. Not that I would recommend that for you. I would just say explore the path you think you should. If you want more details please join up and send me a pm or email me at coopnel@sbcglobal.net and I would be glad to go in to more detail.


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Sue
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 09:05 AM

Thanks again for all the advice and help!!

Peace,
Sue


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: GUEST,Alley
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 09:31 AM

Greetings to all who answered Sue. I, too, am learning to play the guitar. I have been taking lessons for about 3 years. Yes, I know, you would think that I am good by now. The truth is, I'm not that good. I would never think of playing in public. It would be so great to find other people to play with. As many of you mentioned, you can learn so much by playing with others. I take a lesson and come home and practice -- take a lesson and come home and practice, etc. It gets very boring after awhile -- there is no incentive, and no excitement. I live in New Port Richey, FL. Is there anyone out there who is in my area?

                      Alley


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Subject: RE: Help: My Developing Guitar Skills
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 10:13 AM

Sue, Alley, and whoever else:

Welcome to guitar playing! It's a lifelong pursuit, if you want to make it such, and as long as you want to keep developing and learning, you'll always find new skills to acquire.

There have been many threads hereabouts on the subject of beginning (and intermediate, and advanced) guitar skills. I've offered my two-cents'-worth so many times thay I'd only be repeating myself if I did it again.

So let me offer this reference to one fairly recent discussion of this topic, which in turn includes links to additional, earlier, such threads:

"Fingerpicking Melodies" thread from June 2005

I'd recommend reading through that whole thread, but if you're not specifically interested in fingerpicking, scroll down (or link) to my post of 23 Jun 05 1:34 PM, which includes links to five other "guitar skills" threads, some of which include further references to still more such discussions.

Even though I'm no longer a "beginnner," and even though I've participated in these discussions mostly by offering my opinions and advice rather than by asking, I've found an awful lot of helpful knowledge every time a new guitar player has asked for advice and initiated one of these threads. There are plenty of knowledgeable musicians her at Mudcat, always willing to impart some knowledge and/or argue over some technical fine points.


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