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Could I get a little advice or encouragement re: learning an instrument?

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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 06:53 PM
Original message
Could I get a little advice or encouragement re: learning an instrument?
I'm tying to learn to play the guitar. So far, I'm not having a lot of luck. I'm taking a class at school, but it's not helping me much. Most of the students in my class (it's an intro class, no previous experience needed) already play reasonably well, and are there to learn to read sheet music because they only know tab. I can read music, but I'm rusty so I do so somewhat slowly and haltingly, and am in the class to learn to play. Unfortunately, because most of the class can already play, very little time gets spent on the mechanics of playing what we're learning, etc, and more is spent on learning notation, which I already know. My hand-eye coordination is not the best, so this is glossing over a significant area of struggle for me and I'm getting pretty frustrated and demoralized by my lack of progress.

I'm thinking about going in early to talk to my instructor. He's very nice, and I'm hoping he'll have some suggestions. So far I'm thinking I could go sit in on the other class session on the weekends, but that really might not help much, since the problem is the emphasis and pacing of the class. Should I just keep practicing or maybe look into separate private instruction? Should I give up? I really don't want to, but maybe this isn't for me.
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malta blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
1. I don't really have experience with this
since I don't play an instrument at all.

Little MB is learning piano and takes private lessons - her instructor is a good friend.

He says the key to it is to just keep practicing and he expects her to practice at least 20 minutes daily.

It is really obvious whether she has practiced or not.

Good luck leftymom!
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 07:00 PM
Response to Original message
2. Private lessons are best...
Then you have a teacher addressing precisely what you need. You can probably find someone pretty good to get you started in a local music store, for a reasonable amount of money. Mr GoG has taught in one for over 35 years. If you're interested in his book, send me a private message. Don't give up!
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China_cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
3. Try the closest music store that sells instruments.
They often have the type of classes you're looking for or a list of tutors that won't be too exorbitantly expensive.

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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Practice the following:
All chords (major and minor) in all inversions, and arpeggios (major and minor) up and down the instrument.
All scales, major and minor (all three), ascending and descending.
All scales in broken 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, and 6ths. (Instead of going 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, go 1-3-2-4-3-5-4-6, etc. for 3rds, 1-4-2-5-3-6-4-7, etc for 4ths, 1-5-2-6-3-7-4-8-5-9(2), etc for 5ths, and 1-6-2-7-3-8-4-9, etc for 6ths) Ascending and descending.

Go through keys in these root motion sequences: Down a perfect 5th (A-D-G-C, etc), up and down chromatically, up and down by whole step (C-D-E-F#-G#-Bb-C, then repeat up a half step), up by minor 3rd (G-Bb-C#-E-G then down a 5th and repeat on C-Eb-A-F#-C and F-Ab-B-D-F)

Spend 30 minutes a day working through this and in a couple weeks, you'll be a formidable player. Sometimes it also helps to have it all written out.

Also find a private teacher, they can usually make the difference between a mediocre player and a good player.
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Ptah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 08:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'll also suggest a private instructor.
A competent teacher will help you with what you need.

good luck :thumbsup:

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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
6. Clearly your booze level isn't high enough. If you're gonna play guitar, you have to be wasted.
Seriously, though, the best advice I can give is practice practice practice.

Long time musician here who has learned the lesson well that nothing beats practicing. I sometimes sit while watching TV and just play scales up and down for a half hour or hour, along with my regular practice sessions.
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quip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
21. Yup. practice, and those other 2 things. Proficiency is directly proportional to effort put forth
Unless one is a prodigy. :D
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lost-in-nj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
7. I can give you positive vibes

me and guitars are afraid of each other...

like anything

take your time and don't expect perfection right away....

good luck...

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Xipe Totec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:10 PM
Response to Original message
8. Best way to learn is by watching and imitating.
Pick somebody who's style you like, watch what they do, and try to imitate it.

That's how I learned, and that's how my brothers learned from me.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
9. I think private lessons are better, unless you are good at learning on your
own. It's hard to be patient when you are starting out, but you will get there.

Some folks are good at getting a book and teaching themselves.

Good luck, playing any instrument is something to enjoy all your life.
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conscious evolution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. In three months I want to see
a video of you playing something.
Start practicing.
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DS1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:15 PM
Response to Original message
11. run scales for 20 minutes a day if you can
start with the low e string, pick up and down for each note, adding a finger down each fret then move down a string


then move to the next string until you're at

0001 fourth fret high e string

then go backwards, once you're back where you started, move the entire process up a fret and go up and down the board and strings forwards and backwards until you're at fret 18 or so with your index finger.

then reverse that process. eventually you'll get faster, but only increase speed when you can do it perfectly.
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 11:44 PM
Response to Reply #11
19. Good advice.
That's a great way to build muscle memory and dexterity. :thumbsup:
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DarkTirade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:17 PM
Response to Original message
12. Are you doing mostly chords, or single notes at a time?
For learning chords I recommend early Beatles.

If you need to learn the mechanics and this class isn't teaching it, maybe the class isn't for you. I learned on my own, and oddly enough, despite being a classically trained musician since I was a child, I don't read music for guitar. :P Just tabs.

Although I've played some renaissance music on the lute that used weird combinations of french tableture and regular music staves. That was a bit hard to adjust to.

Seriously though, if you want me to send you some tabs for good beginner music, PM me.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:17 PM
Response to Original message
13. Private lessons are the way to go.
The payback is enormous as long as you have a decent teacher who understands how to teach YOU. It sounds like the class is designed to add to skills, not teach rudimentary ones. A bonus is that if you learn good technique intially everything else will follow faster.

learned the hard way and also taught by pros. The latter was better.
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no name no slogan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
14. Get an amp that goes to 11
if you play loud enough, nobody can tell you're screwing up. :P

I've been playing guitar for 25+ years, and except for eight lessons I am entirely self-taught. I also play a few other instruments. The only thing I've discovered that makes you get better (on ANY instrumet) is this:

Repetition, repetition, repetition. And when you're done with that, go back and repeat the whole process.

I have never seen ANYBODY ever pick up an instrument and master it from day one. Even the so-called "natural" musicians only get good at an instrument by practicing the same, boring routine stuff over and over. Hell, just tonight I practiced playing scales for five minutes, and I STILL think I suck at them!

The guitar is a difficult instrument to master. In order to play it, you have to contort your hands into weird, unnatural shapes. It takes some time to get your hands used to being in those positions. But if you keep at it, you'll get used to it, and it will become easier. Eventually it will become second nature, and you won't even notice you're doing it. Then you can tackle singing and playing at once. And maybe get one of those Dylan-type harmonica holders, and start blowing harp, too.

Keep with it. Be persistent. And don't worry if you can't hold down all six strings of an F chord at first (nobody can).

Oh, and don't forget to HAVE FUN! If it stops being fun, quit for awhile and come back to it.

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Maine-ah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 09:33 PM
Response to Original message
15. I don't know how to play guitar, but...
I am self taught on flute, along with some rather lame lessons through public school when I was 12. Remained first chair through highschool and competed. My brother is an incredible guitarist, who is also self taught, no lessons ever.

My first suggestion is more practice. Pratice, practice, practice. Second suggestion is to keep your lessons, go to private lessons if it's something you can do. Nothing beats the one on one instruction. As for the hand eye coordination, try learning where the fretts (sp?) are by touch, stop looking at your hands, you should be looking at your music.
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Ahpook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 10:50 PM
Response to Original message
16. A good way to think about it is..
it's yours :) It's your mind and feeling that go in this. And it lasts a lifetime :)

Teachers are good to a point, but it will be you that has the ability to do anything with it, whatever that may be?

Anyway, i would highly suggest knowing your way around the guitar as well as learning to play it. Being able to string it, tune it and generally maintain it helps quite a bit.

One book i highly suggest is:

There is so much info in those pages for anyone starting that i can't see being without it.

Also, don't get cocky since there is always someone better :D

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 10:59 PM
Response to Original message
17. One thing that might help is to get a guitar that is built for a woman
I wish that those were available back when I was learning.

Men tend to have more muscle in their forearms - and since their hands are bigger, the whole scale of the instrument can be off for a woman.

I never got along with guitar lessons until one day I thought about learning the blues. It is taught from a slightly different perspective and as I enjoy that music more than other genres, it helped a lot.

Other than those thoughts, I'd say, Scales, scales, scales. Every day for at least forty minutes.
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Lethe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 11:41 PM
Response to Original message
18. Just try to play songs from your favorite bands
In my case, when I was learning guitar in the 90's I started off playing Nirvana stuff, which is really easy and good for the beginner.

Try to find an instructor who will teach you how to play the songs that you like. I had an instructor once that encouraged me to bring in tapes of the songs I liked, and then he would show me how to play them during the lesson.

Reading music for guitar is not necessary unless you are playing classical pieces. TAB is much easier.

What you really need in learning an instrument is a balance between feeling good about the pieces you can play well, and practicing material that challenges you.

Trying to learn too many difficult pieces at once will frustrate you and make you want to quit. Playing a bunch of easy pieces will cause you to be lazy and not learn anything or perfect your technique.

Learn the basic chords first, don't worry about any scales. You don't even need to know scales unless you plan on improvising lead guitar. Practicing scales is boring.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-05-08 11:46 PM
Response to Original message
20. I'd suggest private lessons. The teacher can give you more attnetion,
Edited on Wed Mar-05-08 11:46 PM by mycritters2
address your specific skills and problems. This is how I'm learning piano, and it's going well. I can't imagine trying to do it in a class setting.

Good luck :hi:
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grannylib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-06-08 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
22. Hubby the Guitarist said what was always most helpful to him was
to play along to music you like.
He learned by playing along to records and the radio - and he's really good - for him, it worked well. He never took lessons, just learned chords from books and was otherwise self-taught.

Good for you for learning something new! I've always wanted to play the flute, so I am learning that a little, just by ear (although I can see where it would be really useful to know the real fingering *lol* I'm pretty limited right now as to the keys in which I can play, since I haven't figured out all the sharps and flats yet)

Good luck and have fun!
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-06-08 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
23. A small update: I talked to my instructor before class tonight.
He's a really nice guy and very approachable, so I said to him what I said here earlier. He says I'm doing fine and that I'm not off pace for where I started from, and that I'll be fine as long as I keep practicing, and if I feel unsure to get more practice time in. So tonight he had us working on some classical guitar stuff, and none of my classmates have any experience with that, so there wasn't that built-in handicap there, and actually I picked up on it a lot faster than most. So I felt a lot better.

I kinda think he did that on purpose. ;)

I did order the DVD companion for our instructional book, I think part of the problem is that I need more visual demonstration than I'm getting, and that it will help me to have better visuals to refer to on the six days a week that I don't have a class. But I feel a lot less screwed up and lost than I did when I posted.
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MrsBrady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-06-08 12:34 AM
Response to Original message
24. get some private instruction....
and then practice.

I've played violin for 25 years, but just picked it up seriously again in the last 6 months. I've played the last few years, but I didn't have to prepare anything difficult. But that all changed when I decided to get back into it. I have been practicing since October for an audition I just had.
I practiced about 1-3 hours a day to learn some difficult Bach.

Now, I'm not saying you have to spend that much time a day. But take the music apart and learn it in sections at a time.
Learning a musical instrument is really...just like learning anything else.
You have to do a little bit every day, and over time it all comes together. You had to learn your abc's before you could blog at DU, so you get my point.

I also play guitar, and I wanted to learn a travis-picking riff a few years ago. I'm not really a finger picker, but wanted to do this one
I just studied and analyzed it and had friend go over it with me. I started slowly, and then didn't speed up until I could play it without thinking about it. And it took me ALL SUMMER to learn, just to get my fingers to act independently from their own thumb. I didn't practice hours and hours every day, I just make sure I did a little-bit every day. And then by the end of the summer, I had it.

I find with myself that I make it very complicated...when really it's very easy. In other words relax, just spend some time with it every day, and you will get it. But I would get a little bit of private instruction to help with HOW to practice and to check your technique.

anyway, that's what I would do.

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