Did you stop playing guitar?

Someone visited my blog yesterday and she said had tried learning guitar, was useless and gave up.

After teaching for many years I’ve noticed there are phases to learning, and this is not just about guitar, it’s in all learning.

 When we first get the idea to play guitar we’re wide eyed and have lots of dreams.

The first week or two we’re in seventh heaven and are really clear…’I want to play music..that’s we’re I’m going and what I’ve always wanted.  Does this sound familiar?  If not, read on anyway.

 Week three we wobble, it starts to hurt a bit, the fingers suffer, co-ordinating the two hands is difficult and you’re wondering why you don’t have two brains…one for the left hand and one for he right…your confidence goes down.

 Week four is when most people drop out of playng an instrument, that’s if they don’t have the right things in place.

So what are the things that need to be in place?

 Firstly (and I’ve mentioned this in one of my other posts.)

It’s important to create something musical as soon as possible.  Unfortunately a lot of the old school ( I don’t mean old age) teachers are hell bent on shoving music theory at you straight way.  They suffered…you must suffer.  This is a really, really bad teaching practice and contributes to the dropout rate.  They don’t have an understanding of music, it comes from a limited mindset.

Find yourself a teacher that can inspire you. 

So how to chose a teacher?  Audition them…yes that’s right, they are working for you, audition them, make them show you their worth.   Oddly enough, I did this at 13 years age…I said to a guy …i want to play like Santana…he said ‘a what’…i said ‘latin music’…he played something that I couldn’t relate to, I went somewhere else and the guy taught me Blind Faith, Cream and some other stuff…this was about 1971.  Within a few years I was studying with great jazz musicians.

See if the person you are auditioning can play what you would like to play.  Give them a clear understanding of what you like, take a CD.  Be wary of the guys that want to sell you their ‘kit’…it might include a T shirt with their pic on it 🙂 .  There’s a teacher I know that teaches like that,  he’s a good player but starts everyone from the same place.  I don’t like it at all, music is personal.  It’s possible to deliver a professional service but also have respect for the needs of others.  The Internet marketing guys are telling everyone to ‘give em what the want’…’not what they need’..well my obligation is to music and not to Internet Marketing. 

 But I’ll tell you something, sometimes a teacher may not play the style you like but if they have their head screwed on correctly they’ll be able to take you a certain level, make it enjoyable and inspire you to play what’s in your heart.

 Music is very personal and what you need is someone that can:

  • Teach you what you need to know to be a good musician.
  • This means the basics to start playing simple music that is in time and in tune and most of all WITH FEELING.
  • Teach you to be a good self-learner and not dependant on them
  • Help build your confidence
  • Help draw the music out of you

Now here’s an interesting one that no one has ever mentioned to me but I know from personal experience.

The music that wants to come out of you may not necessarily be what you like to listen to.  This is a major factor that has not been addressed by any teacher I’ve met or in any magazine that I have read in the 37 years that I have been playing.  It’s an obvious one really. 

If you play the music that suits your nature and not what is fashionable, you’ll get a much better result musicaly and emotionally. ..And this may not be a thing that you will appreciate when you are younger but it’s worth considering.  It’s just a matter of being yourself.

 Thanks Lady Banana for the inspiration.

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7 Comments

Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, MUSIC

7 responses to “Did you stop playing guitar?

  1. Nice post, interesting 🙂

    Thanks for the link!

    LB

  2. “Find yourself a teacher that can inspire you. ” – very good advice, I quit playing after 10 years due to my music degree, I was fed up with being told that I wasn’t practicing enough and my technique was bad from playing Electric (this was my classical guitar teacher) .

    In retrospect I should never have even picked up Classical guitar and stuck with electric but I just wanted a quality degree. I finally bought an acoustic after a 7 year break and now I’m loving playing again.

  3. acousticguitarist

    Thanks Jon

    I t can take a long time to find music

    Thanks for the comment

    Tony

  4. Spot on advice. Somehow I made it past the 4th week last January and I’m still playing. You’re absolutely right about playing something musical right away. If I hadn’t gone straight to learning chord shapes instead of learning how to plunk out melodies, I’m sure I wouldn’t have made it past the 4th week. As it was, I was able to play several songs and a couple of favorite hymns right away. Thanks for the post.

    Kevin

  5. acousticguitarist

    Hi keven,

    Great to hear that the advice makes sense.

    TH

  6. Jon

    Hey there,
    Discovered your blog tonight and have really enjoyed the happy accident. My first son was born recently, so I decided to blow the dust off an old steel string I got for my bar mitzvah nearly 30 years ago. I haven’t played in years and truthfully I never felt very confident as a player to begin with (The fact that I was booed off stage during an open mic 20-some years ago probably has something to do with it). Anyway, I love the sound of acoustic guitar (particularly picking and hammering, if that’s what you call it) and want to start over. I’ve been fartin’ around on my own, starting with the Ralph Denyer book, but really want to start learning at a relatively slow pace so I can just play for the sake of playing. Any ideas? Opinions? Rants?
    Thanks for providing such a useful blog.

  7. jon stewart is an idealogue

    booo! get off this blog! he wrote it 2.5 years ago!

    just kidding! play what is in your heart that’s my advice. he layed it out pretty well already. as with most things in life, you already know what you should do, it’s just a matter of doing it! with guitar it’s even more so ’cause the thing that comes to your mind is the thing that you play best. think of guitar as less than playing, more as meditation. live in the moment, and don’t become static and try to beat something out of you.

    people need to realize the guitar is not an end in itself, the point is to make good music, not be technically skilled!

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