Insights on learning to play guitar for aging rockers

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by rocksmoot, May 1, 2017.

  1. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Not anymore. Lately it seems that as we go, so will the popularity of the guitar. Just don't see many "kids" playing today. At least, not like when I was coming up. We may be the last of the Mohicans. :)
     
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  2. rockymtnguitar

    rockymtnguitar Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Great info. I started at 42 from zero - no musical experience besides singing in the car with the stereo up loud enough to drown myself. I used to be more disciplined about my practices and I know I should be shifting back to that approach, but the real world / time kicks in. My son plays, too (17 years old) and he learns so quick - but then he doesn't have a career and marriage and all the other distracters. Sometimes it's frustrating but I keep going at my own pace.

    I play weekly with some buddies and we focus on specific songs so I learn my part and I practice my part when I can, but I haven't stretched out musically as much since we started playing together. I think it's because I don't do formal lessons and I don't do formal practices. This post brought that to the front of my mind and I need to really refocus on skills, warmups and pushing my boundaries in a more formal way.

    Great insights - I'll be glad to see what additional comments appear!
     
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  3. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I understand what your saying, in spades. There's flow and then things tap out. I think you might be able to stoke up things a bit but yes, refocussing on the skills, warmups, technique, etc.... but also consider writing a journal to put down your goals on paper so you can refer back to them and make notes as you move towards them. I think that's really the best way to keep them in focus and add new goals as you meet the ones you've established.

    Oh, and keep the enjoyment factor in mind too.
     
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  4. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Nice tunes you got there, had a bit of a Petty flavor to me, I liked it.
     
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  5. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    I appreciate you giving them a listen. No grammy winners there for sure, but writing and recording them scratches the itch.
     
  6. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    Learning to play later in life is particularly difficult for more than just physical reasons. At this age you have enough experience with life to know that a lot, maybe even most ambitious ventures crash, burn and die a horrible pathetic death. There will always be a tiny (or in my case, a really huge) voice in your head telling you that this whole thing is ridiculous, that you should be spending your precious time doing something else. And if your family or friends aren't very supportive or resent the time you spend learning to play, it's all the more difficult. When you're young it never occurs to you to doubt that playing the guitar isn't the most important thing ever.

    The reality is that I am my own worst enemy, and developing a positive mental attitude about my musical ambition is critical. So I tell myself all the time that it's okay to suck. In fact, it's required that I suck before I get better. Every incredible guitar player in the world has once sucked badly, however briefly. However frustrating or painful it is, I have to step up and take my turn to suck too.

    There are days when I feel like there are no limits, and then there are days when I want to sell all this stupid gear and take my wife to Hawaii, and I'll give you one guess about which one happens more often. As a bonus, I give you another guess about which one my wife would choose. :) I have to work hard to remember that playing music is important to me, maybe even the most important thing in my life.


    My advice to you, struggling old guy just learning, is try not to be too hard on yourself.The rest of the world is lined up to make things hard enough on you as it is without you joining in too. So give yourself a break and try to remember that adding a little bit of music to a troubled planet's psyche is a noble thing to do.
     
  7. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    When I reignited my quest to actually get good at guitar technique a few years ago, it was surprisingly liberating to identify what areas I really sucked at. It's probably because once you identify the sucky areas, you can work on them but I remember being almost giddy about really zeroing in on problem areas that I used to work very hard to disguise and think, man... I am truly awful at this technique or that really rudimentary area of knowledge.
     
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  8. beezerboy

    beezerboy Tele-Meister

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    heres the nut of that.... "I wasted some precious YEARS in fruitless practice trying to be fast when I should have been trying to be slow." picking the right notes and using the negative space is how you develop a style thats your own.

    when you hear a certain guitarist & you know immediately who it is.... thats style. the notes are often the same but the expression is different. maybe work on your vibrato too

    dang, now if I would only follow my own advise....
     
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  9. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    I always have coffee and a guitar first thing in the morning. I get a half hour to 45 minutes in on the acoustic usually. Then if I don't have time in the evening, at least i got that much in. On a good day I get another hour in the evening. Sometimes I dream about music, then I try to play what I heard, usually if fades too fast but sometimes I get lucky and at least get a chord progression to work with.

    my fingers are stronger in the morning. but I have a bad habit of writing songs that are all barre chords and about 2 minutes in I notice "I could really use break here" so I'll insert some open chords to give my hand a rest.

    writing songs is easy, writing good songs is harder and of course writing perfect songs is nearly impossible. Just start with a couple of chords and try to find a progression you like, a beat or picking pattern you enjoy and then write a verse for it. so your half there, now add a couple of chords or just change your picking pattern and write a chorus, even easier than a verse, cause chorusesesese are really really simple. You know "yeah,yeah,yeah", I am the eggman whatever. wrap it up on the chord you started with and hold it. boom instant song.

    do that two or three hundred times and it starts to sound pretty good if your paying attention. George Harrison said he wrote a couple hundred songs before he wrote one that was good enough to present to the rest of the band, of course his band was the Beatles and John and Paul would have been a tough audience.
     
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  10. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    I practice in the morning mostly out of necessity, but my hands work better, are more flexible and confident in the evening. It takes me longer to warm up in the morning. In the evenings I watch TV with my wife with a guitar in my hands working mindlessly on the current pattern I'm practicing. Nothing focused at all, just running the pattern. I also tend to improvise over whatever show or commercial we're watching's sound track, that's always fun and it gives you a healthy respect for the creativity and intelligence of the composers of those throw-away musical passages. I don't know if it helps but it makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.

    One other thing; when I'm playing with the band I have to get to the practice space about an hour before everybody else does. For one thing I own the PA and have to set it up along with my gear. But I also need to warm up for about a half an hour before I even try to play anything at all. My hands and arms feel shaky and weak and I can't play a thing with any kind of va-voom. It's curious, but I think it's the difference between standing and sitting. Which is why teachers tell you to practice standing up I guess. But I'm a lazy cuss and I don't do that very often.
     
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  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    hey smoot, I liked your Too Much song, and it made me wonder what you think "intermediate" means

    does it mean being able to play Hideaway at speed? if so, I'd say you're very close technically and probably just need a week to get it inside

    and do you feel, as I do, that teaching materials for "intermediate" guitar are a lot harder to find than resources for beginning and advanced? it's like you enter this indeterminate slushy phase where paths run off in all directions and it can be hard to make really noticeable advances
     
  12. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    There are lots of posts here with good insight. But reading Dylan's Chronicles Vol. 1 made me reassess my own goals. I'm a decent, competent player and can find a pocket with a band or play solo. But singing is my weakness, songwriting even more so. And at 56 technical ability on the guitar isn't as alluring as having something to say and saying it well using the King's English. According to his book Bob was swimming in the deep end when it came to literature. By the time he got to New York City in the early 1960's was reading Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Homer, Dylan Thomas, Faulkner and even set a poem of Poe's to music. Heavy fuel! Yeah, maybe Bob's guitar style was akin to Maybelle Carter's but look what he did with it on the first 6 of his albums. Just thinking...
     
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  13. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for listening! I've discovered that performing a song with a band and recording a song are two completely different disciplines. When I'm recording I can do take after take (after take) and get it exactly right, notes on the bar where they belong, tone and expression exactly so. And with modern DAW software, it's very possible to create music well above your performance level.

    Performing something as credibly as it is recorded is a whole 'nother ball game, and that's where I struggle. If I want to call myself a musician, I have to be a decent performer, not just a good recording hacker.
     
  14. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't set your sights with too much lazor-like focus as to miss the ride.

    Sometimes we have to turn around and look at the view to see how far we have actually come up the mountain, rather than always looking ahead and seeing have much further we have to go.
     
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  15. Tom in Georgia

    Tom in Georgia TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for posting that Rocksmoot. I started back playing about a year ago at 54 after not picking up a guitar for decades. I have arthritis in my left wrist from a couple of surgeries and a skin condition on my right hand that makes it painful to hold a pick, so I definitely know where you're coming from. Still, its a lot of fun and I'm glad I decided to give it a second try. I find that I have more patience with myself at 54 than at 24 and I'm in no hurry to go out and concur the world as a guitar god. It's just fun to sit around (when time permits) and enjoy learning something new and making a little noise. I'm currently working through the book, "Blues Guitar Inside and Out", which was recommended by someone here on the forum.
    Best of luck and keep on playing.
    Tom
     
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  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I started mid-late 40s with a Squier Bullet Strat, learned setup/fret leveling/and repairs faster than the playing... but then I have a professional background that facilitates more of the former. The Tele was a playing breakthrough with the chunkier neck.

    The reason Teens seem to pick up guitar faster is that teens could, before all the video games, spend hours at guitar that no regular adult can put in. Likewise, I knew from my start that I'm not chasing shredding, and really that type of playing has vanished from newer music -- probably because of over-use back in the day. BB King type expression is the domain of the older players and it has more meaningful staying power anyway.

    .
     
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  17. Boubou

    Boubou Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Arthritis is starting, got elbow pain, short on time, will never be a great player, I have accepted that. However, I enjoy the challenge of learning new things .
    Playing makes me happy and keeps me busy. So it's a win.
     
  18. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    This is a great discussion, thanks for chiming in with all of your great comments. I'm curious about the kinds of music you guys are aspiring to play. Do you have specific goals? I guess mine is to play well in a band context with a pretty deep catalog of great songs, not necessarily specific to any one genre. For example, I love 60's dance music, blues, alternative rock, whatever sounds good and gets people dancing.
     
  19. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I'll chip in... I like playing "music" and by that I mean most anything. When I was in my last band, we played 80% originals and the rest were a wide array of covers from Beatles, U2, Stones, Pink Floyd, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and on and on. Some stuff sounded pretty close to correct but most of the tunes we extended and put our mark on, generally in a good way but our goal wasn't to be verbatim correct, just to get the right vibe and run with it.

    Today, I'm still doing a very small amount of writing but I've kind of put that on the back burner to really work on my technique and learn a bunch of new cover material. Now I'm working on SRV instrumentals, Rush, Saga, Yes and a bunch of classic rock from Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, Doobies, Steely Dan, Allman Bros and some Jazz standards too. A buddy of mine in a gigging band sent me his set list for reference. I had already been working on a bunch of tunes they play and I was happy to get more ideas to add to my repertoire.

    My goal at the moment is to learn the tunes correctly as though I'm going to perform them properly but once I'm at the point where I can play them correctly, I'll relax and play at the speed and with the phrasing I prefer, just for my enjoyment. That way if I eventually do put together another group, I'll have some solid material to work with. In the meantime I'm just happy to be making noteable improvements and enjoying the process. I'm also teaching a student on Sundays which also keeps me on my toes.
     
  20. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    That's quite a catalog you have there! I like the way you've formulated a set of goals for the near term. I'm not sure it makes sense for people my age to set long term goals. :)
     
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