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Old 01-13-2022, 12:52 AM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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Default Thoughts on how to get better?

Hey all.
I'm looking for ideas for how to improve my playing. I've been playing for about ten or 15 years. Started in a church with a little group and since then basically play some cowboy chords to accompany singing since church worship songs. I'm quite adept at the stuff I know and can and quite well, but I'm sort of stuck getting any better than that. I've considered lessons but with 3 little kiddos I find it hard to find time.

So, I bring it before yall. Any ideas how to get better or even what to work on to improve? I know that's a broad and vague question...
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Old 01-13-2022, 01:16 AM
NickyJ NickyJ is offline
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If you can tolerate spending time at a computer and like video learning, Truefire.com is a really good way to improve. It has lots of variety and is well designed for people who already have skills that make it easier to branch out.

It gives great structure that can take some of the cognitive lift out of practice and improvement. Just pick the genre and find a course, and you're off to the races. I'm sure there are other great platforms, but this is one that has worked well for me.

Another way to go about it is to pick a song that has a technique in it that you want to learn, and find someone who teaches it online. There are some really amazing people out there making great resources for us all. There's certainly lots to learn from folks like this guy: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...UTtsHT-En93_9W. It's nice to just pick a song and go. And you can come back to it when you have some spare time and pick up where you left off. If you need inspiration, you can just surf youtube playlists like that one until you find something you want to learn to do.


Hope that's helpful. Good luck!
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Old 01-13-2022, 01:21 AM
pagedr pagedr is online now
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A good place to start would be figuring out what specifically you want to get better at. Once you have a decent idea you can determine the route you want to take. There are plenty of online (pay) lesson sites that people like, such as TrueFire, Yousician, Guitar Tricks, etc, and there’s a ton of free stuff on YouTube as well. All the lessons on the aforementioned sites are prerecorded so you can go at your own pace, and I think some of them have the option to add on live online lessons as well.

I know you said you don’t necessarily have time for actual in person lessons…but the benefit of going that route is that a teacher can help you prioritize/organize what you should practice, how long, etc. The online lesson sites can be a bit overwhelming to some, and there’s no one other than yourself to keep you honest/monitor your progress. But everyone’s different, if you’re the kind of person that can stick to a new routine and self motivate then one of the sites might work for you.
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Old 01-13-2022, 05:37 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Rolly Brown has a number of very good DVD/download lessons at Stefan Grossman's site. For practicing he has one called "Waste Not The Time". Here is a sample on youtube...



You can find all of his here:

https://www.guitarvideos.com/stefan-...own/c/33776469

...or directly on Rolly's siite:

https://rollybrown.com/store.html

His manner of teaching is as if he were sitting in your living room one on one. Very effective.

Tony
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Old 01-13-2022, 05:45 AM
MThomson MThomson is offline
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The broad and vague answer to the broad and vague question is - deliberate practice. Deciding what to improve, choosing the lessons and exercises to help you get there and assessing how well it's going periodically.

As the other posters noted, there is a wealth of information online but you first have too answer the question "what do I mean by getting better".

Good luck and have some fun on the way. I can empathise with the lack of time that little kiddos leaves you with so make sure you're enjoying it too.

One last thing that really helped me - it's also OK to enjoy playing at the level you're at if that is what life allows. We don't always have to be chasing after improvement.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:07 AM
buddyhu buddyhu is offline
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I will sing that same refrain: identify what you want to learn/improve. Bluegrass leads? Fingerpicking? Jazz chords? Rock and Roll leads? New strumming patterns? Playing with more expression and variation? Learning music theory? Learning songs in a different genre (classical, reggae, blues, rags, jazz, etc.). Focusing on left hand or right hand technique?

Once you make a decision about what to learn, the path starts to get clear. And if you then return to AGF and ask a more specific question, you will probably get some terrific input; that is how I found my current guitar teacher.

For now, the suggestion that you look at TrueFire is a good one. Other websites that offer high quality videos for download or purchase can be great. Some cover a wide array (like Homespun.com), others are more focused (mark Hanson, Toby Walker).

The challenge for me has always been to REALLY stretch. Anyone can learn new songs at a similar level of difficulty and using skills that one already knows, picking up a couple of new chord shapes or learning a lick…but for some, that doesn’t scratch the itch to get better. And, for me, the only way I REALLY stretch is by taking lessons, and having a (skilled) teacher nudge me to do something that I might never consider, or to help me to do something that might sound easy, but which isn’t easy to do. For the last month, my teacher (Richard Gilewitz) has been moving me through Leo Kottke’s “Mona Ray” in 1-4 bar chunks. I am making great progress…but if I had tried to figure this out by watching videos, I would have given up after a half hour. Very challenging, and yet definitely within reach when I get very specific and individualized feedback from Richard.

That being said, sometimes there are non-negotiable limits to the time and energy you can give to your music. Which makes it all the more essential that you identify what you want to learn.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:14 AM
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srick srick is offline
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Jack -

We all have our hot buttons that spur us to learn. For me, there have been a few that come to mind. The first is working on songs that catch my ear, no matter how difficult. There are a number of teachers who start by teaching a basic chord progression, and then, gradually add the embellishments.

Another hot button has performing solo at open mics, which hopefully, will be an option in the near future.

And the third hot button that spurred me to learning more, has been in-person guitar workshops, often over a weekend, that allowed me to work with one or more instructors. While not cheap, they may have provided the best bang for my buck. A weekend immersion in the guitar world is incredibly stimulating.

Also, over the years, I have discovered that a lot of my learning on guitar is visual. When I watch the fingering of the notes carefully, and then duplicate the notes that I see and hear, I seem to catch on faster. Lately, I have been blowing up videos to full screen and really concentrating on the fretting hand. When I am concentrating on this connection, I push myself to assimilate the beat and the syncopation inherent in the song.

And I know what you are up against with trying to balance life and hobbies. By the time you get to the end of the day, you are too pooped to learn. The kids must always come first. Of course, you could always work on jazzy versions of "Old MacDonald" or "Aiken Drum" and play to them constantly!

One big advantage of on-line lessons is that you can do them at anytime. In fact, there are a lot of online teachers who don't work in real time, but will trade videos with you and then schedule an occasional real-time lesson. It's worth a try, if you can make the time. AFAIK, most online teachers are doing something like this. Prices vary.

Good luck on the journey. If you haven't put the guitar in the closet after all of this time, you never will.

best,

Rick
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Old 01-13-2022, 08:28 AM
phydaux phydaux is offline
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For the last several months I've been going to a monthly acoustic barn jam.

About 10-15 of us show up each session. We sit in a circle and take turns calling songs. The person who called the song either shares the chord progressions, or they pass out a chart with the chords & lyrics. They are expected to lead the playing & singing. We give everyone who wants to a chance to solo while the rest of us comp.

It works out that if everyone prepares two songs then we can go around the circle twice in about two hours. It's a lot of fun.

So far I've been content to take a pass when it was my turn to call. I normally just sit there and strum lightly with my fingers, so I get drown out by people strumming with picks "and no one can hear how badly I play."

It can occasionally be a challenge. For example, someone might call "Pirate Looks at 40, key of G, watch me for the changes." If enough people nod, then we start playing. Then I have to sit there and strum, looking at the left hand of the guy across from me, and try to figure out if he's fingering a G or a C, and anticipate the next change.

For the last several sessions the gang has been encouraging me to prepare something. It's pushed me to work on flat picking arpeggios and bass walkdowns. For the next jam I hope to lead the group by playing Cocaine Blues, Johnny Cash-style. This has really pushed me to focus my practice sessions and work with a metronome.
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Old 01-13-2022, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDaniel View Post
Hey all.
I'm looking for ideas for how to improve my playing. I've been playing for about ten or 15 years. Started in a church with a little group and since then basically play some cowboy chords to accompany singing since church worship songs. I'm quite adept at the stuff I know and can and quite well, but I'm sort of stuck getting any better than that. I've considered lessons but with 3 little kiddos I find it hard to find time.

So, I bring it before yall. Any ideas how to get better or even what to work on to improve? I know that's a broad and vague question...
Hi JD
Two things helped me grow.

We have a local guitar society which is a group of players who meet once a month and play/perform/sing for one another for a couple hours. Having to have a couple songs ready once a month has helped over the years I've been involved.

Also, having a regular playing 'partner' who is slightly better at some musical things and still learning others I'm better at has also helped.

We've done coffee house gigs, and other projects now for nearly 20 years.




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Old 01-13-2022, 08:49 AM
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cliff_the_stiff cliff_the_stiff is offline
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I grew up playing with predominantly finger tips, used a plectrum just for a loud strum.
Over the years I’ve been trying to learn flat picking, so all the songs I know, I need to relearn a little bit to build up the skill.
Perhaps if you are significantly better at one approach than another, work on the other.
Other things I’ve tried with my own tunes, I pick a cowboy chord out of the progression and try to replace it with a voicing higher up the neck.
It just impacts 2 changes but creates some sneaky lessons into regular playing.
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Old 01-13-2022, 08:59 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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First, you have to define what better is to you.

Then you have to set real goals. Be specific.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:01 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Everyone is different. From your explaination I would suggest starting with learning more songs that you aspire to play. Google the songs on the net and YouTube to teach yourself. Step by step you'll be picking up on things and get better.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:04 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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I think the suggestion to play with others is a good one. You're bound to learn something from that.

Or finding a group to regularly play with where the goals are the same among all those involved will also help spread out the scope of material you'll get involved in.

There's some down sides to this, but there's a lot up sides too.

One on one lessons with the "right" teacher are hard to beat tho. They are usually 30 minute sessions a week. If you can make the time for that, and you get the right teacher, you'll probably surprise yourself after a few weeks/months of that.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:10 AM
phydaux phydaux is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
Google the songs on the net and YouTube to teach yourself
Typing “How do I play /Song Title/“ into Google is startlingly helpful. You can usually pull up a video that teaches the song the way you want to play it.

That’s what I’m doing for Cocaine Blues.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:20 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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First off, decide what you want to achieve (much harder done than said!) because without a direction you are unlikely to go anywhere.

If you are really not sure of what "getting better" would look like for you, then spend a couple of hours going through the "Show and Tell" and the "Listen" sections here on AGF. You could well find some inspiration there - and that's a very good starting point towards "getting better".
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