The middle age player....and playing with him or her

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Flat6Driver, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    I guess I'm now "middle age". I have been playing guitar for 20 something years. 95% self taught, took a few lessons and picked up a lot of theory. Took a few more lessons and got some good tips on my technique. It was humbling in many ways and part of the reason I have not returned.

    I have probably played with more focus and rigor in the past 3 years than all the prior. So I see where I'm getting better, but not where I'd like to be, not where young prodigies that play all day are. I can sing and play some songs, whereas I see many than can't/won't sing at all. I'm not a tone hunter. (TDPRI staff is reviewing my account right now for deletion...)

    I have played with folks that could pay circles around me mostly in blues jams. Where I have not spent the years of discipline. Some days I wonder if there's hope for me since I find my fingers not doing what I wish they would....I might not have the dexterity and as I get older lose it even more. I hope not!

    Anyhow, the point of my post is that I'm sure there are many like me this age (or older) on this board. Folks that were great and stayed great, folks that are dusting off the axe after the kids are older, people picking it up for the first time as an older adult. The latter group, I would have to say, at my age would be impossible for me. Had I not started at 19, I would have likely never started...just done other things. Too self conscious to take lessons, etc. I have been to many jams where folks older than me are starting out, and that's very inspiring...hard to play with those folks, but inspiring none the less.

    Where do you find yourself as player and how have you made focused improvements as an adult? What has or has not worked for you?
     
  2. mlove3

    mlove3 Tele-Afflicted

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    "Where do you find yourself as player"

    Not nearly as good as I'd like to be and trying to use the skills/chops/experience/ear that I have to just play and have fun.

    "and how have you made focused improvements as an adult?"

    Singing more, and learning new songs. The more I focus on that and not on wanting to be the hotshot guitar slinger the better off I am.

    "What has or has not worked for you?"

    Going with the flow more worked. If the guys want to try a tune I'm not crazy about, well ok, let's see where it goes. Also keeping the gear setup as simple as possible to avoid over tweaking during a gig.

    Sing. Play. Drink beer. Get paid. Go home.
     
  3. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I am actually dealing with this right now.

    For 20+ years I played bass or guitar at church. Self taught, not a lot of theory, so so ear. But if I have a chord chart in front of me I can usually hang. So that has been my life, learn a new song, throw in some licks here and there and it is all good.
    So I move to another church and the sound man asks me one time about a lick I played on a song. When he asked if I would do that during the service I quipped, "maybe, I don't always play the same thing twice" which kind of set him back. Now I know what he felt.

    Our new church wants everything played just like it is written, do it like it is recorded on the record or how it is played on YouTube. We have Planning Center and they will post the chord charts, some MP3s of the vocals and a you tube link.

    And now I am the old guy playing with a bunch of younger prodigal types of players (many of our musicians are music majors at a local university). I have ben really evaluating lately if I enjoy playing when there is no room for personal flavor. I will say it has challenged me and over the last year that I have played I have gotten better and improved, so that is one bonus of it all.

    So as the old guy, I would say, do what you like. We are getting too old to be told what to do all the time!
     
  4. ItchyFingers

    ItchyFingers Tele-Afflicted

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    I took music all through school and then put it down until about 9 years ago. I didn't touch a guitar, a trumpet, drums or put pen to staff(my preferred instruments and activities) for decades.
    I am not much of a player really but I have learned more since I turned 50 (near 9 years ago) than all the years before. It is never too late to get at 'er and enjoy and as long as my limbs will move I will keep enjoying musical instruments.
    Old folks can learn. You just have to break it down in smaller chunks.
    Preacher has it right. Do what makes YOU happy.
     
  5. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Play to what your strength is. I play in a praise/worship band with a university graduate in vocals and keyboards, and a prodigy kid drummer. From time to time,we're joined by one or more guitar players, both who can sing capably.

    We play music by contemporary Christian artists with a few traditional hymns. I will play rhythm for the most part, and try to stay out of the keyboardist's range, or reinforce the rhythmic parts. The drummer and I interact well. From time to time, I can venture into playing some of the distinctive fills that are in the recorded versions of the songs we're playing, but unless i can get them to sound right, I leave them to the keyboards. Nothing sounds worse than a noodling guitar player who is hitting outside notes.

    So, go with what you know and be sure to listen to what everybody else is doing,
    and play something that fits.

    I hope that this helps.
     
  6. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The most scary, regimented, rule-bound, cutthroat, un-fun stories I've heard from local musician friends all have to do with their time in praise or worship bands.

    What is wrong with that ?

    And most of those are still in them.

    Higher calling I guess.

    They're all middle-aged too.

    S'posed to be fun...:confused:


    Sorry for derail but there's gotta be a commonality
     
  7. leftyfrank

    leftyfrank TDPRI Member

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    First off, congratulations on still keeping at it. When I was younger and felt I would never be a "speed demon" I was content to just play along at home with records and pat myself on the back for figuring out the correct key of the song. I played rhythm guitar and sang in a "ethnic" band with a coworker for a few years in the '80's but missed some valuable musical theory knowledge based on language issues. (I got free meals at weddings and roadies carted my gear so I was happy, lol!)
    Anyway, now I'm retired and just started back taking lessons with a guy who is focusing on the importance of technique and finger placement and quite unlike the previous teacher I had about 10 years ago. Maybe you should look around for a new teacher who is receptive to your questions, for as you have gotten older I'm sure (like me) you now have become familiar with how many more different styles of music exist and are acutely aware (thanks youtube!) there will always be someone who will play rings around you. At my last lesson the teacher mentioned how playing guitar is just as much developing muscle memory as developing music memory.
    I had been developing wrist and shoulder problems from my job (office computer crap) and was afraid once I left work and finally had some time to actually play I would be unable to do it. Surprisingly my wrist problems have ceased. Best wishes!
     
  8. old guitar player

    old guitar player Tele-Afflicted

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    A really good thing instead of formal lessons is just jam and play with better guitar players than you. Also...practice...tons and tons of practice. Jamming along with records is also beneficial. When I was 14yrs old and was playing guitar seriously, I had a High School buddy who was a blues/rock guitar prodigy. We jammed together constantly and I played bass in our very first band when we were like 15-16yrs old. He could play guitar like Johnny Winter when he was 16yrs old. He then got hooked on Django Reinhardt and started getting into more jazz. Anyhow, I learned a LOT of stuff from him. His older brother was a wicked guitarist too. By the time I was 18 I thought I was good enough to be in a band that actually played gigs in bars/clubs and that's how it all started.

    I started playing guitar in 1975.
     
  9. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    That seems to be what has always worked for me. See someone doing something and try and figure what they are doing (or ask) if the environment allows for that.

    I don't have much hope of being a shredder or a whiz, but I don't care for that style of music or playing either. I play in a little 3 piece and do all the guitar work. The bassist fills a lot of space and I can play some riffs or the occasional solo, it's fun, but when laid next to someone else's work, it's crap.

    I have seen a lot of encouraging posts here, I wasn't really seeking that, but thanks. My hope is that when I'm closer to retirement age, I'm even better than now and can put some better bands together.
     
  10. PGTips

    PGTips Tele-Meister

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    Hey F6D. I was reading this thinking "Did I start this thread? It sounds like me." I started playing early teens and joined my first proper band aged 17. Perhaps because of the punk-ethos of my fellow band members, we didn't jam. That was something that hippies did and "musos". In the 30 years since then, I haven't played nearly as much as I should have. Now I'm picking up inspiration and tips from all sources - TDPRI being a great source. I just need to put some of this new found enthusiasm into practice.
     
  11. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    I started 12 years ago at 46. Something I've experienced is the assumption that I must know 100's classic Rock or blues songs which I've been playing for 40 years. I still don't know Stairway or Sweet Home Alabama or Mustang Sally; and probably never will.
     
  12. PGTips

    PGTips Tele-Meister

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    That's great. I honestly think my playing style was far more original in my early days. Being naive can result it something truly original. The more rules we learn the easier it is to get hemmed in by them. I honestly believe it's never too late. Good for you.
     
  13. scrapyardblue

    scrapyardblue Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I fall into the category of picking it up again after the kids were grown. I decided I was only going to play what I wanted and how I wanted, all original. Not to be critical of what anybody else is doing, but to me if it'd already been played once, I didn't see the point of learning it.

    Whether maturity, patience or just changing tastes, I'm a hundred times the player I was back then. I'm not going to win any contests for technique or speed, but I do play things I've never heard before. That was a big part of my quest. And I think I did so while making music that's pleasing to the ear.

    My advice, just do what you want and the reward will follow.
     
  14. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Played some as a younger guy and then life got in the way. Started over again in my 50's as an empty nest filler. I learn every day. I get better every day. I won't be a professional musician ever, but I really do entertain myself and a small circle of family and friends and that is okay by me. I participate here on a few threads and gain from both the professionals and the bedroom players like me. I don't get frustrated because I'm never going to be Dwayne or Buddy or BB. I do think there is enjoyment to be had at any level and tons of people to play with that are at similar or better levels if that is your desire.
     
  15. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's

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    I took piano and guitar lessons growing up. Studied music theory, sight singing, ear training, and composition in college. Played steadily, during breaks mixed FOH and monitors for famous acts (Tony Bennett, Glenn Campbell and others) as well as symphony orchestras and opera groups.

    I played much better then than I do now, I spent more time woodshedding with the metronome.

    My problem is I don't much care for musicians and all the drama. One day I said enough. I have been focusing on my career in electro-acoustics, and pretty much loving every moment of that. I have been able to work on some very cool projects. I still get to sit behind a console for large events, and I like that. I still get nervous before the show starts.

    I am blessed to have a nice studio in my home. I write. I just need to figure out how to play what I hear in my head. I enjoy it, although I do miss the creative sparks I used to get with some of my bandmates.

    I love playing, probably as much now as I ever did. That's what it is all about to me.
     
  16. pcampbell

    pcampbell Tele-Meister

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    I've been playing almost 32 years and am NOWHERE near where I think I should be. Self taught, originally started on acoustic fingerpicking. Moved from there to basic flat pick rhythm guitar and stayed on one plateau of ability for almost 25 years. Then about 7 - 8 years ago I felt it was time to branch out and improve. Switched to mostly electric, started practicing pentatonic scale runs. More recently I've tried to work on varying chords I use based on CAGED principles.

    I still struggle with lots of mistakes and I use backing tracks to force me to stay on time (or at least try to). I'm trying to get better, but it's still sloppy at times.

    I guess it's all relative. Measured against beginners, I must seem good, but against a lot of serious players, I'm bad.

    the key is to try to keep moving forward.
     
  17. djloser

    djloser TDPRI Member

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    Exactly like you. Played in punk bands in the 1970s and hair metal outfits in the 1980s, then left the guitars in their cases. I was OK but never outstanding.

    Started out again four years back and have recently been making big strides. The learning material we have now is way better than the stuff we had back in the day.

    So in answer to Flat6Driver ...keep at it. We'll never be Joe Bonamassas or Danny Gattons, but hey, we're just out for fun, right?
     
  18. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    I don't get the "too self conscious to take lessons" part. A lot of teachers would welcome a student with discipline and focus. Find a private instructor, not in a music school. No one will ever know.

    I remember reading where Herb Ellis (I think) said, when he was in his seventies, or maybe even early eighties, that he was playing the best he ever had. I play regularly with a 90+ fiddle and swing accompanist who plays with great power and facility.

    I'm however old I am (I always have to look at the info on the left of my posts) and keep getting incrementally better, although the bar is pretty low, giving me lots of room. I take lessons.
     
  19. WildcatTele

    WildcatTele Tele-Meister

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    I'm going to take a different approach to the discussion...

    I'm 41 and have been playing since I was 9. In my younger days (when I had no other responsibilities) I practiced 4-6 hours a day, always learning, learning, learning, wanting to be the best of the best and live the rock and roll dream. I just knew that greatness awaited me, I just needed to find someone to see it and appreciate it. I put everything I had into party gigs and soaked it all up when my friends told me I was awesome; I felt I was on my way and I just knew that the next kegger was going to be attended by that cigar smoking record producer that was going to make me a star.

    Then real life happened. Dropped out of college (where I was studying music), went 9-5 factory work, and developed a chip on my shoulder so heavy I slumped. I'd go see other bands and think about how silly they look and how I could do so much better, if only someone would take me seriously.

    Well, if you do enough of that you're bound to start thinking very deeply about your own "show" and loose what I call the "mojo that comes from not knowing any better." You loose the sense of fun because you start worrying about playing perfectly, sounding perfectly, looking perfectly, and anything less is unacceptable because you just know that someone out there in the audience is thinking just like you are and you can't stand to have someone else think you're less than perfect. That's what you see when the older guys are on the stage concentrating, not moving, stiff as a board, scared to death of hitting a wrong note or not stepping on that one overdrive pedal at just the right moment and ruining everything. When you're young you don't care about all that...you just play.

    So I just sunk into a hole. Let it all go. I couldn't afford the guitar or other gear I needed to be "just right" so why even bother? I was never going to be a super star revered like I revere my heroes, so what's the point of even trying?

    A few years ago some old friends asked me to jam with them just for fun, get away from the wife and kids and jobs for a few hours and just love what we're doing. Something different clicked with me then...it was about fun. It's not fun if you're worried about how others perceive what you're doing. It's not fun if you're so wrapped up in getting the perfect tone and hitting the right notes that you forget to smile and look around you and really love what you're doing right there in that moment.

    So when we gig I probably do a lot more dancing and acting the fool than any 41 year old man should be. We play tunes that don't take a great deal of theoretical knowledge or fretboard proficiency. I'm finally able to afford nice stuff, but I don't sweat gear or tone too much. I'm too busy having the time of my life to worry about perfection any more.
     
  20. KyAnne

    KyAnne Tele-Afflicted

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    Wow......... well put sir!
     
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