I took a lesson today, the first in 26 years. Odd result and de-sync with teacher.

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by marc2211, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Holic

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    So I have been really frustrated recently as my playing, while progressing, is really hampered by my lack of understanding of music theory. I know the basics only.

    I started playing when I was ~14, with my main love being blues. I have played on and off ever since, with a big gap of 8 years or so. I'm nearly 42 now and played a lot more in the past 4 years or so.

    I play mainly improvised classic rock, blues, and know my limits. I play pentatonic based lead riffs and rhythm parts (think Zep, Clapton, Stones). Used to play in a blues band, but not played in public for about 20 years other than some jams at work, as I'm not good enough and don't have the confidence.

    I went to the new teacher today who was recommended by 4 colleagues at work. He asked me what my goal was, I explained and he said 'we'll start at the beginning to assess your level.. can you play x, y, z (progressions in different keys, major minor chords around the neck, then asked me to solo over him playing an Am blues)'. After about 5 mins, he looked puzzled. He asked what the joke was as clearly I wasn't a beginner and in which band I played with.

    I was pretty puzzled as I rarely even plug into my amp and have stage fright. I'm strictly a bedroom player.

    At the end he said that he can definitely teach me music theory, help on technique, but didn't want to change my rhythm or soloing styles as they were good. He also said that I HAVE to play in public and he'd love to hear me play more with a band.

    In short, I don't believe him. I play sloppy and have no formal technique. In the end, we parted on very weird terms - both saying we were looking forward to next week's lesson. (My wife predicted this outcome, and always kicks my ass for not playing more, but my wife is always much too indulgant with me!)

    So my question. Is it possible to be of a half decent standard, but hate your own playing? Or be too hard on ones self to a point that we think we worse than we are?

    I'm pretty confused at this point, and am not fishing for compliments. Just trying to understand the de-sync between me and the teacher.
     
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  2. ClashCityTele

    ClashCityTele Tele-Afflicted

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    Some of my friends are much better guitarists than me, but have never played in a band situation or, if they have, it wasn't on a stage in front of an actual audience.
    Whereas I'll jump on stage & play at the drop of a hat.
    Don't put yourself down, there are probably thousands of bedroom Hendrix's, SRV's & EVH's out there.
    Just go with the flow.
     
  3. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    Many teachers would say a beginner doesn't know how to tune, doesn't know any open chords, doesn't know anything really. Next level might be that they know their open chords. Next level might include some strumming patterns, but probably needs some RH work. Next level might have some fingerpicking, maybe starting some barre chords, might be able to get through a few songs. And so on.

    Honestly if you can improvise ANYTHING over a chord progression, you are an at least an intermediate player.
     
  4. Antmax

    Antmax Tele-Meister

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    I think that's pretty normal with most kinds of artists. They are their worst critic and don't take compliments from friends and family well lol. My wife loves what I play when she gets to hear it. I mostly play during the hour she takes a bath. I also have stage fright and don't particularly like having an audience. Seems like I play a good 20% worse when I know someone is listening. I don't get in that zone thingy and always feel a bit self concious and worry about mistakes.

    If it's a good teacher, I'd be pretty chuffed if they complimented me. I probably wouldn't shut the door on them just yet. Give them a little time to see if you can build a rapport and enjoy being taught. You were probably going to be apprehensive starting out and the teacher might have been more supportive and been trying to give you some positive vibes and boost your confidence.

    I wouldn't worry about it, see if you learn anything and whether you and the teacher can build some kind of connection that works over the next couple of sessions.
     
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  5. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    I would logically come to the conclusion that you are much too hard with yourself.
    Just because she is your wife does not necessarily mean that she is indulgent. When several people who are not related come to the same conclusion about yourself, there must be some truth in it.
    Be kind with yourself and have fun!
     
  6. scrimmer

    scrimmer Tele-Afflicted

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    Pretty much 'ditto' what Antmax said.

    We are always our worst critics, I know I am. Been playing almost 30 yrs but never took any lessons and just have a very basic music theory understanding also.
    Don't play out very often much these days myself, but when I do, I'm always sort of surprised at all the compliments I get.
    Also, I bought a mandolin a couple years ago, had been noodling around on it a while before I went to a teacher for a few mando lessons.
    He basically pretty much had the same reaction on my mando playing as your teacher there, he just told me to work on my picking technique to get to another level.

    Work on your confidence by getting up and playing out more often, soounds like you got everything else going for you.
    But don't discount learning more theory and applying it, and I need to heed my own advice here too.
     
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  7. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    NB: I can relate to your situation in so many ways that I could have been the OP...
     
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  8. pugnax

    pugnax TDPRI Member

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    Welcome to the existential dread of Making Creative Things. It's horrible, jump right in and art out all over the place.
     
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  9. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's

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    I think we ALL 'hate' our own playing, at least to some degree. That's part of what drives us to practice and improve.
    But I hear ya - it feels really odd when someone is very complimentary of my playing, because I tend to not think/play like many other guitarists in the area, I feel like a bit of a fraud.
     
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  10. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    Your teacher is right. Go and play in front of people.
     
  11. guitartwonk

    guitartwonk Tele-Meister

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    This sounds perfectly normal. You can afford to have much more confidence in your own abilities. Your teacher has rightly identified that you have a talent.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the perceived disconnect - after all, it's that gap that you're there to fill, right?

    Good luck with your studies
     
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  12. aging_rocker

    aging_rocker Tele-Holic

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    I hear you. I used to under-estimate myself (not that I'm any kind of great player or anything, especially these days...) but I'd often hear things taped in a jam or whatever and realise that it must have been me playing, but had no idea I could sound like that. Or how to re-create it - having to learn your own licks - priceless :rolleyes:

    And some of the most amazing players I've heard play live over the years were 'weekend-warriors' playing in the back of pubs who had cheap gear and day jobs.
     
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  13. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    I don't mean this to sound "self helpy" but limits, and I mean true limits, are placed on us by no one other than ourselves. How do you talk to yourself when have a conversation with yourself in you own head? It is very good to hear how a neutral and educated observer sees your ability and your skill. They see and hear things that you won't let yourself observe.

    I too could have written your original post. At the same time, it is a rare occurrence that I play with others who can play what I can play. Appreciate what this instructor has told you. He has no reason to blow smoke up your rear end. Take this new knowledge and challenge your own view of yourself. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to grow as a musician, and maybe just as human being, because you're being forced to see yourself differently than you may normally see yourself.
     
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  14. mikestearns

    mikestearns Tele-Meister

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    I had a similar experience. I'm self taught and have been playing for 24 years and just recently started lessons. He essentially said that he didn't want to change the looseness of how I play or general style but wanted to work on developing more of a foundation in theory as well as work on some rhythm techniques. That part I hadn't thought about - I'm great with rhythm guitar, but had never considered the rhythm of my lead work. Either way, I'm excited to make some progress and open some doors.
     
  15. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks a lot for the info, support and opinions everyone - really appreciate it. It's good to know that I'm in a similar place to lots of others in being self taught and working on the foundations underneath. I'll go back to the teacher and give it a few more lessons as I know I can definitely learn a lot on the theory side. We got on well enough, so I think we can build a rapport - guess I see where this takes me, as it was already a big step for me to reach out.

    I have a few standing offers to sit in with friends who have bands, but I always decline as I don't like my playing being so exposed, or playing on front of people - guess I may have to push myself a bit more to be involved. :shudders:

    :)
     
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  16. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

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    Yes. I feel this exact way, so you're not alone. I think part of it comes from playing alone for so long, and partly being self taught. I started in my early teens as well, learning by ear and an old chord book, and played with my church band for probably 10 years, played out in front of crowds, parking lots etc. Then I spent a number of years maybe touching my guitars once or twice a year. I haven't played with other people beyond a little goofing around with my brother-in-law a few times since my mid-20's. I turn 40 in a few months.

    I'd stick with it for a while and see how it goes. If he's a good teacher he could teach you ways to improve without severely altering what you already do.
     
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  17. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    Record yourself, if you haven't already - recordings do not lie.
     
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  18. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    Have to agree with previous posts, as far as being too harsh on yourself - but that's not unusual at all. The fact that you signed up for lessons indicates you have a desire to improve. Don't forget that - there's always so much to learn. That's a good thing. Maybe now that you've had some positive feedback, you can refine your goals and get back to studying. AFAIK, it's a lifelong process.

    ...and yeah, playing in front of people is just another thing to get used to, another thing to learn. A quote from someone else: "No risk it, no biscuit."
     
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  19. RB522

    RB522 Tele-Meister

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    I have the same issue. I've been playing on and off (mostly off) for over 40 years. My self evaluation is that I'm a mediocre jam room hack at best. My wife, who is a college trained musician and plays in several bands says I'm a lot better than I think I am. I just don't see it myself.
     
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  20. sockgtr

    sockgtr Tele-Meister

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    It's possible to play at a high standard and still hate your own playing :) Or more precisely, to be bored with your own playing and not be at the level you really want to be at.

    I'm a pretty high level player -- gypsy jazz/swing/jazz -- and I still take lessons every now and then with players who have something I want to learn. I've taken Piedmont lessons to get a better handle on that style, and lately I've been thinking of taking some lessons on rockabilly.

    You'll never learn it all and there is always room to improve if you want. Every player you meet can teach you something useful, regardless of their style and general skill level. I've learned valuable lessons from self-taught players who can barely switch chords about the usefulness of silence and breaking the rhythm in interesting ways, about making really great songs with extremely minimal skills. etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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