View Full Version : Anyone learning to play the guitar?
February 4th, 2009, 02:29 AM
:hug Sorry you feel discouraged
I'm not clear on whether you are trying to pick out melodies, or fingerpicking/strumming out accompaniment. Picking out a melody requires you know what the different types of notes/rests/etc. are and how long you hold them for each. A metronome helps rushing or slowing down when you're counting. Guitar chords/tab that you can find on the Internet won't really help with this, you need either the full music score or the leadsheet for the songs. If you can't remember how to count beats or read notes on a leadsheet, and your guitar instructor doesn't know basic music theory, maybe spending some time with a piano instructor or another guitar instructor who can, will help.
Most of the guitar chords you find on the Internet (such as praise songs) are the chords for accompaniment to songs. They're not going to sound like full songs if you play them by themselves, because they're made for you or somebody else to be singing or playing out the melody with it. You can learn the melody if you have the leadsheet or music score for the songs, or if you listen to the recording, and to learn the rhythm of the accompaniment you also listen to the recording.
I wasn't professionally taught rhythms, and I never used the arrows but began my learning of rhythms by listening and beginning to recognize what an upstroke sounds like and a downstroke sounds like and then picking out the rhythm pattern of those upstrokes and downstrokes as well. I didn't worry about writing them out. I just got this by playing and listening. Some songs were easy for me and I could do them right away, others required listening to the recordings over and over, playing "air guitar" to get my wrist in the right (matching) pattern, playing with the recording if the music was in the same key and then trying the song myself. If you play air guitar to songs, you learn whatever the rhythm is because your wrist develops "muscle memory". I don't know how anyone can learn accompaniment rhythms without listening to the song or having heard it before.
What also helps is finding songs in similar time signatures and listening to how other guitarists play songs in that signature. For instance, I've gone and heard "I Cry Out/For You Are Good" (with a 3/4 time signature) played a certain way, and so other songs like "We Will Dance" and "Wonderful Merciful Savior" (also in 3/4) sound fine with that same strumming pattern as well.
I don't know if this helps you any, but you can take it or leave it.
February 4th, 2009, 07:08 AM
Well, I've grown quite discouraged this last week. While my instructor is good, I guess (I have nothing to compare him to), I feel like he just isn't teaching me the things I need to know. I'm not learning about rythym, I'm not learning to read music, I'm not learning timing, etc. I asked him about rythym and strumming last week and he said it just "comes to you." Is that true?
He gives me songs to learn, either chorded or tabbed, and so I sit there just strumming them up and down (he marks them for either up or down strumming), but there isn't any rythym, they don't sound like songs, just chords or notes. One song he gave me was in 3/4 time, but I don't know how to mark out 3/4 time. He scribbles out the music for me while I sit there.
I used to be able to read music as I was in band in high school, but if you don't use it you lose it. I feel like I can't remember any of it. I'm frustrated and not feeling motivated this week at all. I guess I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels.
Any advice? Should I look for a new instructor?
Don't feel too down!! I went through a couple days last week when I got really bummed out too, it must just be a learning thing, but I'm over it now. One of the problems was that I was actually taking myself a bit too seriously. :heh This week I've relaxed and determined to make sure I'm having fun.
Ok, so far, I'm learning all my songs by tab and/or by chord progression and strumming pattern, not by sheet music. The key is definitely being able to hear the song, or to know the song so well you can "hear it in your head" when you need to know the timing. Getting the right speed, even when knowing the song is tricky, and I only get it spot on so far when I play with music on. It will come in time, and I'm getting better at knowing if I'm playing too fast or slow without the music. In fact, if you are going to play on your own, without music on or with other players, you get to set the pace. For "You and Me" by lifehouse I play it just a bit slower on my own because that's how I like to hear it (but I speed it up when I'm practicing my chord switches for sheer practice sake), and that would be fine even if someone else was singing the lyrics (I don't sing with my stuff, which would probably help the timing).
Another suggestion that I've read a lot is to use a drum machine (a lot of pedals have them, I've read) to set a pace that you can play simple rhythms with that helps to learn rhythm.
Here's another point that can be demonstrated with a simple song like "Happy Birthday." Jed, my instructor, showed me this early on as a clear example on my acoustic; you can play all the single notes to "Happy Birthday" on a guitar and make it actually sound like "Happy Birthday" or, you can strum a pattern that sounds really good with people singing. If you strum a pattern, it does not sound like "happy birthday" on its own. He's a singer and the strummed version sounds a lot better (richer, more professional) than the note version. When I play chords for songs like "Every Rose has its thorn," unless the person who is listening knows what song I'm strumming, they don't recognize it. So, that part is perfectly normal.
As for the sheet music, and reading music, if you need a refresher, I'd get a book maybe. I got a book called "the guitar handbook" that is detailed on a lot of different aspects and gives a short refresher on how to count the various times like 3/4, etc... I wouldn't like this particular book if I was trying to teach myself serious music theory, but it gives an outline of a little bit of everything, including the history of guitars, famous guitarists, different styles of playing, what the notes look like, chord charts, etc...
If you really, really want to learn sheet music and the guitar, it will probably take you down the classical guitar path; acoustic guitar with nylon strings. It doesn't have to, but classical guitarists tend more toward that single note style, and sheet music. On the other hand, several "official" tab books (like Hal Leonard) have tab, sheet music, and chord progressions all on the same page, so it might be a way to get your brain working on all three...I dunno, I just ordered my first official tab book this week for an album I like, and haven't gotten it yet so don't have experience with that.
Keep it up! It's just easy to forget we've been playing such a short time!
February 4th, 2009, 07:19 AM
Praise has good advice. You should take time to listen to songs and either work out the beat by air guitar or even air drums.
On the worship team, we never really focused on up or down, it just seemed to be there. Sometimes we followed the Leader while at other times we played our own rhythm while he played melody.
You may also find yourself in a learning compression. Like a caterpillar you will grasp and grasp then stuff will seem to stop. Don't stop. Go over what you have learned, practice little bits of new stuff, then have some fun and play what ever you want. Eventually it will free up.
If it is possible, try to get some dvds or videos and watch what the player is doing. Again Homespun has alot of this kind of material.
I can't say if your instructor is hitting limitations, but it is difficult for any instructor - who just knows - to figure out what is challenging a student, who for the moment - just doesn't get it.
But I can affirm, IT will pass and you'll likely laugh at yourself later thinking now what was so hard about that.
Now for Humble pie: I finally got my new acoustic a Seagul Performance CW dreadnaught. The tone is incredible. I feel ashamed playing such a nice guitar.
I was having such trouble on my old folk guitar and did not play much that I lost alot of my banjo tab reading ability. It's like starting over on the guitar. Going from T-I-M to p-i-m-a is ruff. I do have most of my chords memorized and the barres are soooo much easier on this Seagul.
The same advice I've received I keep sharing:
Practice minimum of 15 minutes, every day,
LEARN the lesson, however long it takes,
Keep it fun - If you're hitting a block, play some goofy blues like the 3/4 I can't Find the Count Blues Waltz....:hehee
And listen to others. Inspiration really helps. They did the time, the practice, that is why they sound the way they do. We have to invest our time too.
You'll do fine.
I remember my first attempts at the Flatt run, and the Scruggs roll. They sounded like auto accidents for a couple weeks. Now it's just a Fender bender :hehee
February 7th, 2009, 08:56 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice. :)
Here I am rolling into week two of frustration and I'm still very unmotivated and discouraged. I must have a mental block or something. I found some good websites for a refresher course on timing, but when I try to do it myself it just doesn't work. In my mind it seems like each strum should be a beat and that just doesn't work if he's written out 3/4 time and there's pick one string, then strum down, down, and up. The timing thing really is getting to me. I'm going to steal my son's metronome and see if that helps. My pedal does have a drum function, but it's all fancy beats and I just want a steady beat.
I went to The Guitar Center yesterday and found a few books that might help, but I got so overwhelmed I left without any of them.
I don't know what happened. I was so into it, now I feel frustrated and confused and I avoid practicing. I think I'm just overwhelmed. There are so many ways to play the guitar and I have a "perfectionist" mentality and want to master them all. This is definitely a character flaw which has dogged me on many hobbies.
My instructor suggested I bring one of those small tape recorders and record what we do each week and play it back when I practice. I'm going to do that this week and see if it helps.
February 9th, 2009, 11:22 PM
I found a metronome app that I downloaded and put on my iPod. I plug my iPod into external speakers and there ya go! Man, I can't believe how much I have forgotten about music. My brain is having a hard time separating the music notes that I used to play on my clarinet from the strumming that I'm learning now. It's weird. I've spent more time this week re-learning about rythym and timing than practicing, but it's all for the good anyway.
How's everyone else doing?
February 10th, 2009, 02:28 PM
Yeah, anything you learn musically, or refresh yourself on, will help you out later, I'm sure. One thing to keep in mind is that early on is that it is going to be a lot easier to hit the timing and exact rhythms on songs that you actually know really well. It's a lot harder to hit them on songs that you are just learning for practice, or that's what I've found so far. Also, if I like a song played a touch slower, as long as I'm on my own, or everyone I'm playing with is on board, I go with the pace I like the feel of...of course I eventually make sure I can pace the actual song as recorded if I can, but then I still play it at the speed I like unless I'm playing with the music.
My lesson last week was about blues improv on my electric. He started me on a simple A minor pentatonic scale and just told me to monkey around with a blues rhythm, and begin keeping rhythm whilst trying to solo; adding in vibrato, bending, etc... in the blues style. Talk about something that is tough, but fun at the same time. It's addicting even if I can't do it very well. LOL :heh I dusted off some of my Muddy Waters CDs to get in the spirit of things. :lol2 We'll see how it goes tomorrow at my lesson...ugh, I still get nervous!
March 1st, 2009, 11:12 AM
Hey everyone! Just bumping to see how ya'll are doing.
Well, playing the guitar has now become a family affair. Yesterday we bought our son a Fender Squire beginners kit, got my DH an Ibanez Bass (used, excellent price) and amp, got my daughter's acoustic restrung for her, and I got a new amp and this. (http://www.jacksonguitars.com/products/specSheet.php?product=2911006803) Mine is the transparent blue. It's beautiful!!!
I'm feeling much better about my playing. I can see improvement from when I began. I might be changing instructors though as the local bass teacher also teaches guitar and we think it would be nice if DH and I had the same teacher.
Also the local music store is starting a new program for folks that used to play music but got out of it and want to pick it up again. I used to play clarinet, and DH used to play tenor sax. After they get enough people signed up they form bands so that you can practice together, then they will have a "concert" for family members at some point down the road. I might be willing to try this in a few months.
So, what say you? How's everyone else doing?
March 2nd, 2009, 02:01 PM
Well, I haven't gotten in another lesson because either my instructor or I was too busy to meet, or out of town. The ministry for which I was leading worship is taking threatening moves into going emergent, and although I felt the Lord called me to do worship there thus far, I can't and won't subject myself to Emergent occultism or passively endorse an Emergent/New Age fellowship.
I'm going to have a serious talk with the campus minister with lots of resources, and tell her my concerns and what I have been noticing, and that if it doesn't stop, I'll have to stop going. That is my only opportunity for worship and worship leading right now (although I can tell another one will probably open up shortly), and I hate to not do what I'm called to do because I want to be obedient, but is worship really honoring God if you have to listen to contemplative teachings in the same ministry to do so?
March 2nd, 2009, 02:02 PM
I've been asked to play a song at "Easter" at our church, so that's the next "big" thing for me to practice for. I haven't picked a song yet, my instructor is going to help me out on that this time, and it will either be just me playing, or my mother on piano and me on guitar.
My fingers are getting faster and stronger on my electric. I'm starting to be able to hit the right pitches on my full bends, and do my hammer-on's and pull-off's faster in songs. Everything is shaping up the way it should...I have a feeling new chords are on the horizon for me this week at lessons on my acoustic...
Congrats on getting a new instrument, and having fun playing with your fam!
March 5th, 2009, 04:45 PM
Good Job Guys. Keep Going. Kliska - gonna try the Easter Song /Herring/Green? (hear the bells ringing...)
Anyone work on drop D tuning - songs? 6th [E] dropped down to D.
Some beautiful tones, And I know Leo Kottke worked some songs out in this tuning.
Just curious, how did you learn the strings: Edgar ate dynamite, good bye Edgar?
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