How to improve as a not-so-newbie?

SpHowe3319

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Background: I learned to play guitar at 16 years old, and developed my skills with intentionality until my early twenties. From about 17-20 I was blessed to use my skills and talent on youth and Sunday worship teams in a smaller sized church.

I took a break during the college years, and never got back to seriously playing due to some major life challenges.

Two years ago (I’m now in my early thirties) my wife bought me a guitar for Christmas. I got my muscle memory back to play bar chords, rebuilt muscle strength for longer sets, and so on.

Flash forward to today: I attend a large church where the guitarists are very good! I dearly want to serve the Lord by playing, but likely need to develop a better skill set before auditions. They only have one electric guitarist each week, and I’ve never been the only electric player in a team. I can play chords and am trying to learn how to implement different voicing like triads. I’m taking time to learn every note on the fret board for the first time ever, as well as how to use chords where I can easily adjust on the fly. I’d love to be better at playing lead, and want to be a better all around guitarist.

Can anyone point me to some self-directed learning avenues? I’m a big proponent for YouTube. Worship Tutorials has taught me a lot about music theory, although comprehending that doesn’t come naturally.

Your help is greatly appreciated! :)
 

budglo

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I think learn the fretboard and what works . For me the basics …learn to play in every key . Chords … learn to play each chord in several different voicing , including movable chords . Triads are good to know. Learn the major scale in every key in different positions . Play with some worship music and what fits in the context of a song. Use a metronome in practice all the time . Find out what the other guitar players are doing . Some use the dotted 8th delay, some don’t . Find out what their expectations would be in the context of the band . Some WLs want you to copy the recorded music , others don’t .
 

dougstrum

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Sounds like you have the basics, so continue working on chords and scales, look for the ways they're connected.
A great way to develop your ability to use those skills is by playing along with recordings.
When I was a kid I would play along with the radio. It helped me develop a good ear for playing on the fly.
 

SpHowe3319

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I think learn the fretboard and what works . For me the basics …learn to play in every key . Chords … learn to play each chord in several different voicing , including movable chords . Triads are good to know. Learn the major scale in every key in different positions . Play with some worship music and what fits in the context of a song. Use a metronome in practice all the time . Find out what the other guitar players are doing . Some use the dotted 8th delay, some don’t . Find out what their expectations would be in the context of the band . Some WLs want you to copy the recorded music , others don’t .
This is really helpful! Thanks for taking the time to give some feedback and provide a few tasks to work on. I appreciate you sharing your experience.
 

Grenville

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A very simple way to get a sense of things for me was Kirk L'Orange's book PlaneTalk.

For years I've been doing fine as an 'instinctive' player but this book helped me understand why certain things work and how to make things work going forward.
 

JuneauMike

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It would be great if you could get together with your worship musicians for weekly jams, like ASAP. You'd learn a lot just by being on the spot with other musicians expecting you to do something musical. Maybe sit in on their practices or invite them to get together to play some. Playing with your church's musicians would give a real advantage since you'd invariably adapt a style that sits with what they do while you are learning. If you get on their radar then you might be the guy they call when they need guitar help.

There are loads of instructional material on YouTube and if you are self motivated to diligently work on those (I'm not) then I'd expect you'd make progress pretty quickly. I really like this guy's teaching method and the content. He does a lot with triads and chord tones and of course CAGED work, which really comes in handy when you are playing along to a lot of melodic and harmonic content coming from other instruments. And he does about the best job I've seen at breaking down the fretboard so that you can build your own ideas. And his animations make it clear what notes he's actually playing.

 
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CapnCrunch

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It would be great if you could get together with your worship musicians for weekly jams, like ASAP. You'd learn a lot just by being on the spot with other musicians expecting you to do something musical. Maybe sit in on their practices or invite them to get together to play some. Playing with your church's musicians would give a real advantage since you'd invariably adapt a style that sits with what they do while you are learning. If you get on their radar then you might be the guy they call when they need guitar help.

There are loads of instructional material on YouTube and if you are self motivated to diligently work on those (I'm not) then I'd expect you'd make progress pretty quickly. I really like this guy's teaching method and the content. He does a lot with triads and chord tones and of course CAGED work, which really comes in handy when you are playing along to a lot of melodic and harmonic content coming from other instruments. And he does about the best job I've seen at breaking down the fretboard so that you can build your own ideas. And his animations make it clear what notes he's actually playing.

Mike has some good suggestions here. The bottom line is that there just is no substitution for practice and play time. Playing the songs your church does, and playing live with any of the players who play there is the most valuable play time you can get. If you can't play live with others, play along with the songs that get played at your church. Learn the songs and master the intros, endings and hooks. If there is a recognizable electric part, learn it and play it until it becomes comfortable. Start with a couple of songs and work your way through as many as you can over a month or two. You'll be surprised how much more comfortable you will be after a couple months.
 

SpHowe3319

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Th
It would be great if you could get together with your worship musicians for weekly jams, like ASAP. You'd learn a lot just by being on the spot with other musicians expecting you to do something musical. Maybe sit in on their practices or invite them to get together to play some. Playing with your church's musicians would give a real advantage since you'd invariably adapt a style that sits with what they do while you are learning. If you get on their radar then you might be the guy they call when they need guitar help.

There are loads of instructional material on YouTube and if you are self motivated to diligently work on those (I'm not) then I'd expect you'd make progress pretty quickly. I really like this guy's teaching method and the content. He does a lot with triads and chord tones and of course CAGED work, which really comes in handy when you are playing along to a lot of melodic and harmonic content coming from other instruments. And he does about the best job I've seen at breaking down the fretboard so that you can build your own ideas. And his animations make it clear what notes he's actually playing.

anks for the great ideas! I sent an email to the worship pastor and outlined my willingness to learn. I’ll soak things up like a sponge given the chance :)

Our church records and posts the derives, so I’ll be able to play along with the worship remotely at the very least. I like your idea of playing with them live - that would be helpful for me, but perhaps not ideal for the team when they’re trying to prep for Sunday morning.

Thanks for the YouTube links. I’m definitely motivated to self-learn. I can’t afford to pay for lessons at the moment (I’ve had years of them in the past), the Lord has provided more than enough passion for me to learn solo. I’m renting a guitar from the local horsey while I save up to buy my own :)
 

GoldieLocks

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Side issue:
you ARE what you listen to. Even though I poke at Jazz, buy jazz guitar books, read about jazz, have some jazz tab... own a 335 or 2... got a 100 jazz c.d.'s. EVEN SHOOK LARRY CARLTON'S HAND and plucked John Pizzarelli's guitar after a Seattle gig. I can't play jazz (even after 40 years). It's just not my world.

So you need to pick a world and beat the crap out of it. I'm a Southern Rock guy. It's what I was born to do. So when I play in church: I bring all the Southern Rock (rock, bluegrass, country, gospel, slide...) I can. You won't hear me doing any U2 or Metalica parts. Even though they beg me on occasion. I sadly bring almost no jazz to church.

So whatever you mostly listen to - that's your game. learn your chords and scales and tones through that. Bring it to church.
 

Ascension

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Side issue:
you ARE what you listen to. Even though I poke at Jazz, buy jazz guitar books, read about jazz, have some jazz tab... own a 335 or 2... got a 100 jazz c.d.'s. EVEN SHOOK LARRY CARLTON'S HAND and plucked John Pizzarelli's guitar after a Seattle gig. I can't play jazz (even after 40 years). It's just not my world.

So you need to pick a world and beat the crap out of it. I'm a Southern Rock guy. It's what I was born to do. So when I play in church: I bring all the Southern Rock (rock, bluegrass, country, gospel, slide...) I can. You won't hear me doing any U2 or Metalica parts. Even though they beg me on occasion. I sadly bring almost no jazz to church.

So whatever you mostly listen to - that's your game. learn your chords and scales and tones through that. Bring it to church.
That's great advice. A lot of Modern worship is much different from normal styles in particular on guitar. Lot of super simple repetitive parts with multiple guitar players and a LOT of effects. It's frankly not my thing at all. I play how I play and over the years have gotten a reputation as a player. I get called to do what I do in different situations but in many circles that might not be accepted. For me to play the modern stuff like they do would be misery my heart is just not in it. My bible says bring a NEW song to the Lord not play in a cover band. Real worship should be creative and from the heart not done to a formula. Have always believed each Church should find it's VOICE in Worship. We in the last few Churches I have worked with would take a song that we liked learn the orignal then tear it apart and tweak it to our strengths and make it our own. Some times close to the original some times not but always ours.
 

hotraman

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Lots of good advice and insights here.
I would see if they have a "worship jam" nights, where anyone can come, and play with the band.
Maybe suggest that to the worship pastor. We have something like this, about 2x a year. It's a good way to get to know the musicians / singers.
 

SBClose

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Have a conversation with the WL and possibly others involved in auditions. Ask what they want to see and hear, find out if the expectation is note for note coverage of whatever songs are on the list, ask how an audition is typically constructed, ask how you can be prepared. Ask if you can attend a rehearsal, after you've been to a couple ask if you can bring a guitar and play along unplugged. THEN you'll know what to work on for your specific context.
 

ASATKat

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Background: I learned to play guitar at 16 years old, and developed my skills with intentionality until my early twenties. From about 17-20 I was blessed to use my skills and talent on youth and Sunday worship teams in a smaller sized church.

I took a break during the college years, and never got back to seriously playing due to some major life challenges.

Two years ago (I’m now in my early thirties) my wife bought me a guitar for Christmas. I got my muscle memory back to play bar chords, rebuilt muscle strength for longer sets, and so on.

Flash forward to today: I attend a large church where the guitarists are very good! I dearly want to serve the Lord by playing, but likely need to develop a better skill set before auditions. They only have one electric guitarist each week, and I’ve never been the only electric player in a team. I can play chords and am trying to learn how to implement different voicing like triads. I’m taking time to learn every note on the fret board for the first time ever, as well as how to use chords where I can easily adjust on the fly. I’d love to be better at playing lead, and want to be a better all around guitarist.

Can anyone point me to some self-directed learning avenues? I’m a big proponent for YouTube. Worship Tutorials has taught me a lot about music theory, although comprehending that doesn’t come naturally.

Your help is greatly appreciated! :)
Learn the CAGED chords to learn triad chords up and down the neck, totally simple and awesome, and essential. Youtube it.
 

scooteraz

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There is a certain amount of learning by doing. Before I volunteered to fill in until my church could find a ”real guitarist” a little over 20 years ago, I had lead campfire worship and youth group worship sort of things. As I learned to play with a group, a bunch of the additional skills/theory I acquired as it came up they were needed.
 

sax4blues

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what I did as a newer guitar player wanting to play in church was go to rehearsal every week, sit in the back/corner, and play along very softly for my own hearing. So I avoided a yes/no audition, and one week they added me to next Sunday. In this way there was no pressure on anyone and I built my skills in the real setting.
 




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