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Old 01-11-2019, 05:18 PM
Logdy Logdy is offline
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Default Finger picking learning curve

I’m fairly new to guitar ~2.5 years and 63 years young. I’ve been working on “Tears in Heaven” for 6 weeks and it’s still a struggle for certain parts. I feel like giving up sometimes and just focus on chord only songs. Is this normal? My instructor says to learn finger picking as it makes chords easier, but I have my doubts....
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Logdy View Post
I’m fairly new to guitar ~2.5 years and 63 years young. I’ve been working on “Tears in Heaven” for 6 weeks and it’s still a struggle for certain parts. I feel like giving up sometimes and just focus on chord only songs. Is this normal? My instructor says to learn finger picking as it makes chords easier, but I have my doubts....
The tune is ahead of you a bit. Take the sections one at a time that you don't play that well and just practice them so slowly that paint dries faster.

The key to learning a new fingerstyle piece is patience. Let the muscle memory work it's way in before moving up the tempo.

Don't stop practicing your chords regardless of what your instructor may say.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:51 PM
Paddy1951 Paddy1951 is offline
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That you took on learning something new and at times, difficult, speaks well of you. Don't give up. Go after this in small pieces. Don't be hard on yourself.

I don't know exactly what your instructor is saying with regard to learning chords.

I do know that learning will come in fits and starts. You will have victories, large and small. You will have days where you become frustrated. When that happens, back off a bit. Relax. Come back to it tomorrow. Often, your subconscience can often keep working on things and allow things to be better tomorrow.

Having taught many adults, one thing I will tell you is that as an adult, you carry baggage and expectations because you are an adult. Sometimes, those expectations can undermine your efforts. So, be a kid again with this.
Be proud of yourself for being brave enough to try this new thing.

There are many AGF members that have been were you are. We all have hit potholes in the road.
There is a lot of support here. Use it. Ask for help when you need it.

At this point in your life, learning should be about fun. Don't let it not be.

All the best to you friend. Keep going.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy1951 View Post
That you took on learning something new and at times, difficult, speaks well of you. Don't give up. Go after this in small pieces. Don't be hard on yourself.

I don't know exactly what your instructor is saying with regard to learning chords.

I do know that learning will come in fits and starts. You will have victories, large and small. You will have days where you become frustrated. When that happens, back off a bit. Relax. Come back to it tomorrow. Often, your subconscience can often keep working on things and allow things to be better tomorrow.

Having taught many adults, one thing I will tell you is that as an adult, you carry baggage and expectations because you are an adult. Sometimes, those expectations can undermine your efforts. So, be a kid again with this.
Be proud of yourself for being brave enough to try this new thing.

There are many AGF members that have been were you are. We all have hit potholes in the road.
There is a lot of support here. Use it. Ask for help when you need it.

At this point in your life, learning should be about fun. Don't let it not be.

All the best to you friend. Keep going.


This is great advice with zero snarkiness.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:22 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Hi Lodgy,

Yes, this is normal (in my experience, 2 years into it).

Fingerpicking is a terribly precise thing. I thought I could play barre chords pretty well until I had to hold them down well enough for each note to sound out individually. That took quite a while and is still a work in progress in some positions. And there is a lot more going on with the fretting hand than strumming your basic chord progressions.

I played "just chords" for a long time before even attempting fingerstyle, so you are to be commended. I still muff up pieces I thought I had learned months ago. Don't let one clam ruin the whole tune for you (easier said than done, I know).

All I can tell you is it gets easier over time, in the sense that the learning will come faster. But it still takes a lot of effort and struggle. If you don't enjoy the challenge on a particular day do something else. Nothing wrong with strumming!

The fact that you are working on this piece after playing a relatively short time shows you have the desire and aptitude required to get to where it will become enjoyable, so stay with it.

Best of luck!
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:31 PM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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I don't know what you know about finger picking, so allow me to post cliff notes that are considerably easier to follow than when I was learning to read music just so I could learn to play classical guitar:
The classic style of finger picking is quite simple. The thumb plucks the lowest 3 strings, the ring finger plucks the D string, the middle finger plucks the B string and the ring finger plucks the high E string.
That's all there is to it. It's very easy to get the hang of, all you have to do is just pluck random combinations with your fingers. You don't even need to hold chords to do this.
You can become quite adept at this if you just practice on a regular basis for a while.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:32 PM
joeld joeld is offline
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You might also try learning patterns, like presented in Mark Hanson's "Contemporary Travis Picking". This is sort of the finger picking equivalent of chord strumming. Sounds musical and people will complement you.

Maybe work on two songs at a time, in the same key probably E. It will be more interesting that way.

I've been at it for years and I still get frustrated by how long it takes to learn a song. Eventually you will have a set of songs that your fingers just know, and you will have music that seems more effortless than demanding.

Take a deep breath, know you've taken on a challenge, and have fun with whatever accomplishment you've achieved. In a few months whatever seems hard now will start to seem easy.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:32 PM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy1951 View Post
That you took on learning something new and at times, difficult, speaks well of you. Don't give up. Go after this in small pieces. Don't be hard on yourself.

I don't know exactly what your instructor is saying with regard to learning chords.

I do know that learning will come in fits and starts. You will have victories, large and small. You will have days where you become frustrated. When that happens, back off a bit. Relax. Come back to it tomorrow. Often, your subconscience can often keep working on things and allow things to be better tomorrow.

Having taught many adults, one thing I will tell you is that as an adult, you carry baggage and expectations because you are an adult. Sometimes, those expectations can undermine your efforts. So, be a kid again with this.
Be proud of yourself for being brave enough to try this new thing.

There are many AGF members that have been were you are. We all have hit potholes in the road.
There is a lot of support here. Use it. Ask for help when you need it.

At this point in your life, learning should be about fun. Don't let it not be.

All the best to you friend. Keep going.
And by the way, this was a terrific post from Paddy.
Excellent as usual, my friend.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:35 PM
Django2000 Django2000 is offline
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I have found that patience is the key. I like to practice a bit of fingerstyle then a bit of strumming and some picking solo stuff. Over time it all start to sink in and I progress. If I try too hard on one piece or technique frustration sets in.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:40 PM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I’m a big believer in the metronome; set it painfully slow, and work through the song until you can play it note for note. Focus on the transitions, and how you move your fingers and hand from position to position.

When you’ve really got it down, turn the metronome up 2 BPM. Repeat ad nauseum.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:41 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairpuller View Post
This is great advice with zero snarkiness.
Scott
This gentleman, Paddy1951, knows what he is talking about.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Logdy View Post
I’m fairly new to guitar ~2.5 years and 63 years young. I’ve been working on “Tears in Heaven” for 6 weeks and it’s still a struggle for certain parts. I feel like giving up sometimes and just focus on chord only songs. Is this normal? My instructor says to learn finger picking as it makes chords easier, but I have my doubts....
Hi Lodgy

Not sure I understand your instructor's point, since chords are chords.

I taught fingerstyle guitar for 40 years, and we started by playing patterns until they were ingrained, and then began applying them to chords.

I'm not sure there is a right-wrong/better-best way to go about learning them. But repeating the assignments you have very slowly and very evenly will certainly net you better results in the end.

Does your instructor have you playing the chords in patterns?


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Old 01-11-2019, 06:46 PM
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I'm quite new to fingerpicking too but I'm making a lot of progress. I've made a few aborted attempts over the years (I started playing 40 years ago but didn't play much at all for about 30 of those until I got back into it a couple years ago), but just never had the patience to get off the dime. This time it's taking.

Each new thing I learn feels really difficult, but I'm breaking it down into bite size pieces and it comes eventually. I'm working on a 24 bar blues right now and I've gotten pretty comfortable with about the first 5-6 bars, but the first 4 repeat elsewhere in the piece, so I probably have close to half of it together. But I've been working on it a while and have a good while to go. My left hand is pretty sure of itself with blues, but it's a whole new thing for my right hand to coordinate with a fingerpicking approach.

I play plenty of other stuff too (strumming and singing on acoustic, playing rhythm and lead on electric) and mix it up because if all I did was work on fingerpicking all day I'd forget that I've actually already put a lot of time into other types of playing...

-Ray
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:13 PM
JKA JKA is offline
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Logdy

My advice would be don't even think about your fretting hand at the moment. Don't even worry about what strings to pick or in what order. Timing is the most important thing to consider. As long as you are picking strings in time you're finger picking. Once your fingers get used to playing a pattern (and it doesn't have to be a consistent pattern this early on) you'll be well on your way.

You can practice picking without even holding your guitar. Ever sat and rapped your fingers? just make sure the first movement of a pattern is with your thumb then go back to your thumb on the beat.

When I began finger picking many years ago I used the TITM method. Thumb followed by index followed by thumb followed by middle. Throw in a pinch (two or more strings together) now and then and bingo.

I would try and start with an easier tune to play though. Something simple played well is so much more satisfying to both player and listener.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairpuller View Post
This is great advice with zero snarkiness.
Scott
What was snarky about my advice?
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