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Old 01-19-2021, 06:58 AM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Default Progress for singing/songwriting on the guitar

Hi all,
For four years now, I've been focusing on covering a lot of songs and writing some of my own. I feel like my performing skills have reached a good level, yet I feel that my guitar skills are still rudimentary. The following has been my approach to becoming a self-styled singer/songwriter/guitarist. My inspirations are the Beatles and James Taylor, to name a few. I'd like to hear any thoughts about what I should incorporate into my guitar practice.

-maintenance of cover songs that I know, learning new cover songs
-performing regularly for the public 4-5x/week
-writing my own songs
-learning new chords and progressions
-new strum patterns, fingerpicking patterns, flatpicking
-theory like circle of fifths to navigate fretboard
-improvisation (no matter how weird)
-experimenting with an electronic keyboard

I'm really interested in busting things open and finding my own unique approach to guitar. I welcome any thoughts. Thank you!
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Last edited by highvibrational; 01-19-2021 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 01-19-2021, 07:38 AM
catdaddy catdaddy is offline
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As someone who has been writing songs for over 50 years, I've found that by improving my playing by learning, perfecting and incorporating different styles and techniques (strumming, flat picking, fingerstyle, etc) has led to greater freedom and creativity in my writing. By becoming a better guitarist, I've become a better songwriter.

I should mention that personally I like having the ability to write in many different genres. Other songwriters may prefer to focus on just one. I would suggest following your musical interests and try to become the best guitarist you can by working on those things that you are drawn to as a musician. By doing that you'll be assured of maintaining your interest, and putting in the time and effort to improve will come most easily.
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Old 01-19-2021, 08:51 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Performing to an audience. No matter how good a bedroom musician becomes they still are novises when it comes to performing. Yet a novice musician can perform quit well with experience. There is an essence of guitar playing that can only be learned when performing. Otherwise it's all academic.
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Old 01-19-2021, 08:51 AM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Originally Posted by catdaddy View Post
As someone who has been writing songs for over 50 years, I've found that by improving my playing by learning, perfecting and incorporating different styles and techniques (strumming, flat picking, fingerstyle, etc) has led to greater freedom and creativity in my writing. By becoming a better guitarist, I've become a better songwriter.

I should mention that personally I like having the ability to write in many different genres. Other songwriters may prefer to focus on just one. I would suggest following your musical interests and try to become the best guitarist you can by working on those things that you are drawn to as a musician. By doing that you'll be assured of maintaining your interest, and putting in the time and effort to improve will come most easily.
Thank you for your thoughts. Have you had guitar teachers or have you learned online?
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2021, 09:04 AM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
Performing to an audience. No matter how good a bedroom musician becomes they still are novises when it comes to performing. Yet a novice musician can perform quit well with experience. There is an essence of guitar playing that can only be learned when performing. Otherwise it's all academic.
I agree. That's why I pushed myself to go out there early on and get over whatever I needed to get over. I now perform for the public 4-5x a week and feel it's been the most enjoyable time of my life. I learned that people react to your energy and passion, not how well you play guitar or how much you know. Still, I want to improve.
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Last edited by highvibrational; 01-19-2021 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by highvibrational View Post
Thank you for your thoughts. Have you had guitar teachers or have you learned online?
For the first 30 years as a guitarist I was a pretty decent singer.

Like you, The Beatles were a big influence on me and I really wanted to learn to be a songwriter more than anything else so I started to write songs before I could strum more than 3 chords on the guitar. I became a pretty decent writer with a Beatles music songbook providing valuable lessons on chord structure and melody composition. I was a trained vocalist so I could give a fair enough presentation of my songs with just simple strumming accompaniment.

As time went by my musical interests expanded, and I started to explore different genres. While attending a music festival about 15 years ago I met blues guitarist Roy Bookbinder. He was teaching an open class on beginning finger style blues which I happened to sit in on. I loved the class and what I'd learned in a couple of hours, and Roy suggested that I purchase his video on beginning finger style blues which continued what he had been teaching at the festival. I purchased that video and really applied myself to becoming a competent fingerpicker, continued with his other videos and finally took an advanced in-person class with Roy at Fur Peace Ranch. Having enjoyed that experience I went on to take classes with Jorma Kaukonen, Chris Smither, Mary Flower, and others; picking up valuable playing techniques and insights from all of them.

Today I improve my playing skills mostly by utilizing youtube instruction videos from various teachers/sources. At this point in my life I've become a lot more interested in becoming the best guitarist that I can be, giving it at least equal time with my continued pursuit of songwriting.
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Martin J-15
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Martin 000X1AE
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2021, 12:50 PM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catdaddy View Post
For the first 30 years as a guitarist I was a pretty decent singer.

Like you, The Beatles were a big influence on me and I really wanted to learn to be a songwriter more than anything else so I started to write songs before I could strum more than 3 chords on the guitar. I became a pretty decent writer with a Beatles music songbook providing valuable lessons on chord structure and melody composition. I was a trained vocalist so I could give a fair enough presentation of my songs with just simple strumming accompaniment.

As time went by my musical interests expanded, and I started to explore different genres. While attending a music festival about 15 years ago I met blues guitarist Roy Bookbinder. He was teaching an open class on beginning finger style blues which I happened to sit in on. I loved the class and what I'd learned in a couple of hours, and Roy suggested that I purchase his video on beginning finger style blues which continued what he had been teaching at the festival. I purchased that video and really applied myself to becoming a competent fingerpicker, continued with his other videos and finally took an advanced in-person class with Roy at Fur Peace Ranch. Having enjoyed that experience I went on to take classes with Jorma Kaukonen, Chris Smither, Mary Flower, and others; picking up valuable playing techniques and insights from all of them.

Today I improve my playing skills mostly by utilizing youtube instruction videos from various teachers/sources. At this point in my life I've become a lot more interested in becoming the best guitarist that I can be, giving it at least equal time with my continued pursuit of songwriting.
Wonderful! I believe you've shared a few links with me before. Would you mind sharing a few again? Would love to hear! Thanks.
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Old 01-19-2021, 01:03 PM
TBman TBman is offline
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I listened to the first song on your soundcloud page, "Tous les garcons et les filles" I think your guitar playing is fine. It doesn't detract from your singing.

I have heard really good vocals, melodies and lyrics get killed by the terrible playing of the performer.

As a finger style player I have found the best way to improve my guitar playing is to practice the sticky parts in super slow motion.

You may want to try learning a few slow and easy finger style pieces. Your guitar playing won't be "hiding" behind your voice and your attention will be on just the guitar so you'll be able to pick up on little things to polish up. Record yourself as well. You hear more that way.
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2021, 01:28 PM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Originally Posted by TBman View Post
I listened to the first song on your soundcloud page, "Tous les garcons et les filles" I think your guitar playing is fine. It doesn't detract from your singing.

I have heard really good vocals, melodies and lyrics get killed by the terrible playing of the performer.

As a finger style player I have found the best way to improve my guitar playing is to practice the sticky parts in super slow motion.

You may want to try learning a few slow and easy finger style pieces. Your guitar playing won't be "hiding" behind your voice and your attention will be on just the guitar so you'll be able to pick up on little things to polish up. Record yourself as well. You hear more that way.
Thank you. I'll try a few fingerstyle. Classical counts, right? Like Greensleeves? I took a 7th grade guitar class and it's stuck with me, so I can read a few notes.
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2021, 01:54 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highvibrational View Post
Hi all,
For four years now, I've been focusing on covering a lot of songs and writing some of my own. I feel like my performing skills have reached a good level, yet I feel that my guitar skills are still rudimentary. The following has been my approach to becoming a self-styled singer/songwriter/guitarist. My inspirations are the Beatles and James Taylor, to name a few. I'd like to hear any thoughts about what I should incorporate into my guitar practice.

-writing my own songs

I'm really interested in busting things open and finding my own unique approach to guitar. I welcome any thoughts. Thank you!
Two things that might inspire:

1) Learn to write a song (lyrics and melody) without a guitar. Arrange afterward. The song then leads to the arrangement, not the other way around.

2) Check out the book Writing Songs on Guitar, by Rikky Rooksby. Opposite approach as #1. Not my method but very informational.
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:17 PM
Basher Basher is offline
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Probably not much of a thought, but here goes....

I have quite the opposite problem. In fact it's probably far worse.

I can't sing for toffee. It's the thing I'd love to be able to do more than anything but I'm either tone deaf or severely challenged in some other pitch-related way because my voice is terrible - absolutely awful.

I can play most of the things I want to play on guitar. If I really want to learn a piece, I will just keep at it and things generally improve. The buzz from being able to play a bit more of a tune completes the feedback loop and makes me take on the next bar, verse, tune or whatever.

However, my singing remains, as always, bad. No matter how long I try and sing along, I never get any better. The lack of positive reinforcement means that my motivation drops off far more quickly than with the guitar.

I suppose what I'm saying is that the guitar is something that most of us will get better at with application and practice. If you're stuck with a knackered-out rangeless vocal whine, as I am, there doesn't seem to be a lot you can do!
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:36 PM
highvibrational highvibrational is offline
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Originally Posted by Basher View Post
Probably not much of a thought, but here goes....

I have quite the opposite problem. In fact it's probably far worse.

I can't sing for toffee. It's the thing I'd love to be able to do more than anything but I'm either tone deaf or severely challenged in some other pitch-related way because my voice is terrible - absolutely awful.

I can play most of the things I want to play on guitar. If I really want to learn a piece, I will just keep at it and things generally improve. The buzz from being able to play a bit more of a tune completes the feedback loop and makes me take on the next bar, verse, tune or whatever.

However, my singing remains, as always, bad. No matter how long I try and sing along, I never get any better. The lack of positive reinforcement means that my motivation drops off far more quickly than with the guitar.

I suppose what I'm saying is that the guitar is something that most of us will get better at with application and practice. If you're stuck with a knackered-out rangeless vocal whine, as I am, there doesn't seem to be a lot you can do!
Well, I bet you're a really good guitar player, which is more than I can say for myself. We all play to our strengths and hopefully improve whatever is lacking. But, I wouldn't get so down on yourself. We are our own worst critics. You're probably much better than you think you are. Keep on!
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  #13  
Old 01-19-2021, 03:53 PM
Basher Basher is offline
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Well, I bet you're a really good guitar player, which is more than I can say for myself.
Unfortunately not!

I didn't want to sound arrogant by saying that I can play "most of the things I want to on guitar". A better way of phrasing it would be "I know that if I'm prepared to put the effort in, I will be rewarded by getting better at playing guitar and, slowly, get nearer to the standard I aspire to be". The key point being that my efforts will be rewarded in a tangible way - I can play a certain song or tune a bit better than I could the week before.

I was just contrasting that with my innate inability to make any sort of consistently pitched vocal noise whatsoever!

People often say to me things like "Ah yes, but listen to Bob Dylan, he can't sing very well..." etc. etc.

As far as I'm concerned, ol' Bob is a wonderful singer and might as well be chief tenor at the Vienna State Opera compared to me. In fact that's probably not a fair comparison if you'd heard my attempt to "sing" through Tales of Yankee Power earlier this week.

I'm genuinely not exaggerating. It's just not a gift I have and no amount of me weeping and wailing will ever change that.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2021, 09:59 AM
TBman TBman is offline
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-new strum patterns, fingerpicking patterns, flatpicking
Just have to throw this in. Patterns in finger style are only for teaching purposes. Do not write songs and then fit the guitar in using a "pattern."
When in doubt use an arpeggio based on the notes of the underlying chord. Also, don't be afraid of the half note. Its ok to have notes ring out. A string does not have to be plucked on every single beat of the song.

Think of the finger style guitar as another voice, with bass notes used to fill out the tone.
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Star of the County Down:


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Enjoying guitars since 1964.

Last edited by TBman; 01-21-2021 at 10:04 AM.
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