Ten or twelve years ago, I lived with a guy who played acoustic guitar (he had 3 nice ones) quite well and regularly. He inspired my love of the acoustic guitar and bought me a nice white Fender six string. I took one lesson by a very talented classical guitarist who assigned me the homework of practicing only the chromatic scale. Shortly after developing my calluses, I put it down out of sheer frustration and the feeling of being a musically-challenged idiot with hands too small.
The sentimental value of that guitar has kept it with me all these years. On the verge of major depression, I picked up my (apparently) beautifully aged–though neglected baby with the hope of reigniting a long-abandoned desire to make music (and giving me something of my own untainted by the jerks who have made my life practically unbearable). Music of every type has always had the power to inspire me during my lowest of times while making the best of times even better. I sure do miss being around people who play so often and passionately.
I don’t have much of a musical background. My parents had an organ on which I learned a few ditties with the aide of a color-coded book and thingie that set on top of the keys. I don’t for a minute think I have any natural ability. With any luck, I’ve developed a bit more patience, perserverance and focus than I had back then.
I’m not sure what my specific goals are in learning to play. I’m certainly not looking to play professionally or anything. Just to be able to play proficiently music I love (Beatles, Doors, CCR, Bowie, Zepp, etc – Well, maybe Zepp in my dreams.) Maybe jam with others who share my relaxed attitude towards playing. I want to start out with rhythm guitar and move into a bit of finger picking. I’d like to learn how to read music and understand a bit of theory, at least, because the guitar seems pretty enigmatic to me at the moment. Of course, I want to develop my ear as well. Don’t know if I’m interested in playing electric, yet, but I do love great electric lead. Hey, I might need to learn “Hey, Joe” and “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” at some point. I would really like learn my daughter’s current favorite Beatles songs, “Blackbird” and “Mother Nature’s Son.” Also, John Lennon’s “Woman” which was playing at the moment she came into the world.
Anyway, if anyone has some advice on how to learn, what to learn and how to get the most out of practice time, I’d love to hear it (from experience guitar players and new ones, alike). What did you find most frustrating? How did you get past it? What helped? What hurt? What songs are helpful to learn in the beginning? How about really easy songs (no barre chords!) that I can learn to keep me going? Whatever…
Here’s where I’m at after 5 days: I’ve been practicing chromatic scales again and I can already see an improvement in my “technique” and my accuracy. It’s beginning to feel less awkward and painful. But trying to play to a metronome (even slow) distracts me and causes me to make errors I wouldn’t without it. I guess my rhythm is still pretty bad, but it’s also improving on the strumming side. I can play some “Nowhere Man” poorly as my hands still won’t go through the chord changes smoothly. But I still can’t play the bridge as I’m having no success with barre chords. Are there any useful exercises to improve my finger strength and stretch? My ear is getting better as I’m trying to first tune my guitar by ear and then check it against a tuner and my husband’s ear. I’m feeling pretty confident but I really want to practice chord changes and strumming on a song I can play. I spend about 15-30 minutes at a time at least once per day (sometimes several times) until I get tired or bored with the repetition. More songs might help and callouses, too. Yes! I can feel the callouses developing–hoorah! I’m trying to understand tablature for finger-picking, but I’m not quite sure I get it.
So what do you say, dopers? Help a gal develop some musical sense.