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

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

  1. christhee68

    christhee68 Friend of Leo's

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    I've been saying for the past several years that I want to take lessons. I just learned chords from song books and chord books when I was a teen and never tried to push myself. I only played easy acoustic strumming stuff.

    When I started playing electric I learned a lot but still don't know much. I spend most of my "practice" time trying to memorize chord progressions and lyrics. I can memorize the basic chords and lyrics to just about any song, but what I really want to be able to do is jump in and rock out and solo in a song I've never heard or played before; improvisation, I guess you would say.

    I do play in a band (for now) that plays real, paying gigs, and that was always a "bucket list" thing for me. Now it's time to add something else to the list.
     
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Whew! I sure dodged that bullet.
     
  3. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

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    +1

    I started in early teens, with a big book of chords and "Great Songs of the Sixties" . . . . Now at 57, still a hack, though I will get some "wow, you play great" comments . . . . that is, provided (1) I am playing something I've worked on for at least a couple of decades and (2) the person giving the compliment doesn't know much about guitar playing.

    The key has already been identified: whether in a gig, jam or alone, play for fun . . . If you are not having fun, why do it?

    The advice about playing/jamming with players better than oneself is perhaps the best . . . . My problem is finding such folks to jam with . . . Geography, time, and finding folks with a similar mind-set, who are willing to share their time and talent with folks like me, can present serious practical difficulties. And those pesky annoying time-sucks like jobs . . . and kids . . . often get in the way. So you have to make some effort . . . .

    Great thread. Looking forward to more replies.
     
  4. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I started at 13, on bass, have always played somewhat since but went years without even owning a guitar, didn’t get an electric guitar until my mid 30’s. I played with others in 9th grade, was never in a band in high school or college. I did start up again in my 30’s but was self taught until into my 50’s when I met someone local who’s playing really impressed me and he teaches. It can be humbling, at my first lesson, he said solo over this 12 bar…I didn’t even get all the way around before he stopped me. He knew right away what my deficiencies were. It was the best thing I could have done. I’m not that great a student or really dedicated to grueling hours of practice but I still benefitted a lot from his tutelage. You can’t get feedback from a youtube lesson and that’s the most important part of instruction.

    I’m comfortable playing music today. Not great but the mystery and fear is no longer present. I can learn most songs in a few minutes, I can improvise a solo. I'm also at the same time too self critical, but I try and take myself with a grain of salt.
     
  5. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    "Played some as a younger guy and then life got in the way."

    So much of what has been written in this thread resonates with me. I am very lucky that I started playing at age 6, and was exposed to lots of jazz and classical lessons at a very early age. As a teenager I had the luxury of being able to practice many hours every day...and there was no such thing as XBox to lure me away from my instrument. Now with a wife and 5-year-old I am always struggling to find time to practice. The best is when they go on a trip and then I can practice all day and all night long for a few days. Thank goodness I can rely on the chops I developed over 30 years ago...but it's so much fun to keep learning more whenever I can. My biggest breakthrough has been to truly escape modal lead playing and to do more chord-based lead playing. (I.e., jazz 101).

    I'm also fortunate in that I've always been able to find a good band to play with. I grew up in Berkeley, CA in the 70s and so was listening to funk and soul (Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, etc.), and hard rock (Led Zep, Kiss, Van Halen). Funk has come back and how cool is it that I'm playing in a killer funk band right now, with all monster players. The only thing I wish is that I could practice for at least an hour every day rather than having to shoe-horn it in wherever I can squeeze a few minutes.

    At age 52 it definitely is all about having fun, which is very liberating on many levels. I also hope that my son may one day get into it....I would love for him to inherit all of my gear one day. Right now if I'm playing in the man cave and he's around he pulls out the Casio keyboard I gave him and starts jamming along with me as best he can. In my opinion at age 5 this is pretty much ideal. No pressure, no lessons unless he himself asks for them (like I did at age 6). Just have fun and along the way he's starting to understand rhythm and singing on key. One of the gigs we did he got up on stage and started playing along with maracas and dancing up there. That was super cool.
     
  6. Red Square

    Red Square Friend of Leo's

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    I have friends that want this too, but I feel the opposite.
    I never encouraged my kids to play music.
    As much as I love playing guitar and enjoyed the bands I've been in through the years, the "ball and chain" aspect to being a musician (in addition to the hours/pay/heartbreak) is something I never wished for my kids.
    It turned out well. My daughter is a dancer and my son plays football. They both love listening to music but aren't players (although my son plinks around on the piano a bit).
     
  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, I would only want him to get into it as a "fun" hobby, not any kind of "ball and chain" aspect to it at all. Whether it's playing guitar or getting in shape I believe the secret is you have to enjoy the journey more than the destination or you will never get there. I love practicing guitar and I love working out. People who are in it because they just want to be able to play well or to lose weight always give up. People who actually enjoy the process with the outcome being an incidental outcome rather than the focus are more likely to stick to it. But it seems to me that if a kid is going to spend hours and hours diddling something with their fingers I'd much rather it be a musical instrument than a game console.....so hopefully he'll go that route although I know forcing it never works. (I guess I'm not a Chinese Tiger Mom...)
     
  8. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    misposted
     
  9. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's an analogy when it comes to the middle aged player. I used to do pretty serious bicycle racing. In the various master's divisions-- i.e., age 30-39, age 40-49, etc., you could have racers who literally were Olympic gold medalists when they were in their 20s vs. newbies who had only been racing for a few years. The "ringers" would ride circles around everybody else. But everyone was having fun, and anyone with half a brain would not feel ashamed that a former Olympic gold medalist roundly kicked their butt. I think the same goes for middle aged musicians. You will have a broad range from kick-butt, pro level "ringers" to beginners, but hopefully everyone has their head screwed on straight and can accept reality and act accordingly. My observation is that the top guys whether in music or bicycle racing are mostly pretty friendly and willing to help and mentor the newbies, but only if the newbies "get it".
     
  10. lefty73

    lefty73 Tele-Afflicted

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    If I could tell my 16-year-old self what I, the soon-to-be-42-year-old, know now, I'd say:
    • learn to play cleaner before playing faster - this has been an area of focus for me over the last few years and has really helped me OWN my playing.
    • since I know you're not going to take lessons, learn theory earlier, dammit - not so much learning mixolydian for mixolydian's sake, but learn how those modes are complementary and can be strung together. I've really tried to break my own mold and bust out of the thinking that solos and chord vamps are about connecting the dots.
    • don't worry about trying to sweep pick - but do work on picking economy, hybrid picking, Travis picking, playing without a pick: all of which have helped expand my musical vocabulary and playing enjoyment quite a bit.
    • don't neglect that bass guitar you'll buy in a few years. That thing will be your rhythm and timing rock as well as help you see new ways to approach the guitar - when I returned to guitar after several years playing mostly rock and jazz-ish bass, I had a new appreciation for rhythm and space, as well as new approaches to playing standard chord progressions.
    • integrate keyboard chords and horn lines into your playing, pronto - I've really been focused on "exploding" chords, particularly as I continue to gig with the cover band I've been in for the last three years, and the sole guitar player in during that time. "Werewolves of London" is a great, simple example. It's D, C, G. But it's soooo much more fun to play when you voice chords like Warren's piano. And the places you can go when you've got a piano-based chord progression. All those additional colors really help widen the swimming lanes...
    • and fercrissakes, buy that Carvin DC127 buy don't get it in all candy apple red, get it in a traditional sunburst and you can play it on any gig with anyone. And do NOT get it with the Floyd Rose trem option, it's more hassle than it's worth! :p
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I would send a clip-on tuner back in time and say "use it!"
     
  12. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

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    What worked:
    Becoming a Full-time Guitar Player.
    Went to College and Studied Theory as a Performace Major. On top of Theory, Sight-singing and Ear-Training were HUGE. There is soooo much any of us can do IF we learn how.
    Went on the Road and played 6 nights a week for 2 years.
    Working with a Metronome.
    Adopting a Life-style that kept me off Drugs, Alcohol, Children Born out of Wedlock(not to mention Venereal and STD Diseases), stealing and Violent Crime in general..
    Singing in a Choir. IF it hadn't been for that, I would have never sang in a band. That alone would have kept ME off the Road to some extent.
    Being able to Read and Write Music.
    Working with other Musicians who can do the same.

    Didn't work:
    TAB. Just give me the notes on the page, please.
    Putting-up with people who had (and still have) no common sense.
     
  13. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    This post really resonated.

    I know I got busy with many other things, but a part of not playing much for a while was that I saw a friend play and he was a monster player. Maybe only a small part. For years I never told anyone that group of friends that I played at all.

    I am now having a lot of fun, but always imaging that guy in the room that knows better judging me. In one of my basement bands, the bassist has a friend who's a real musician. He showed up to one of our rehearsals. I shot laser eyes at him (the bassist) and it really bothered me.

    I like this graphic, I keep teetering between cell 2 and 3.
     

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  14. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I'm 51.

    Started playing when I was 11. I have 40 years in and I have so much to learn.

    The first 20 years I played higher gain rock on slinky gauged strings. I don't think I played strings heavier than 9's and the action was always very low. I never played with my fingers.....everything was flatpicking. I always used enough gain that I probably didn't know what my guitar sounded like.

    20 years ago (the halfway point) I bought a Martin because we got pregnant (needed to keep the noise down). I played heavier strings (12's). I started playing fingerstyle. I started playing tube amps with very little overdrive. I actually started listening to the guitar tone. With all these changes and without a boatload of distortion to hide behind I think I evolved in a good way. Being a middle aged guitar player has been great. Playing with people who are in the same part of the learning curve is great. When I was 21 it was great practicing in a garage with like minded head bangers. I can read music. I was a composition major for two years. Our singer (the lady) teaches grade school music (has a degree). Our drummer (tall guy) teaches math...he's just smart in general. Our bass player and our other guitar player read somewhat. It's good. We all have kids that are old enough that we no longer have to drive them everywhere or make every meal for them. We have a "family comes first" mentality and that's nice during finals or sports or other academic times.

    Behold.....middle aged farts who rock....

    [​IMG]

    I'm on the right and I would like to point out that we can still make girls of all ages dance all night and I'm one of the two guys who still has a full head of hair.

    It's good.
     
  15. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Full head of hair-- we have a winner!

    Provided you don't have too many children out of wedlock, STDs etc., as posted earlier.
     
  16. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    WOW! Great posts guys. I picked up a no-name acoustic at 23 years old. I was never a good player but........ I dazzled people with the amount of songs that I had memorized. I never counted them, but it was close to 200 maybe. So I became adept at keeping jam sessions going onto the wee hours of the morning. Now.....what happened? I have trouble remembering chords and words that I thought I knew by heart. I got my first electric at 30, but didn't play in a band until I was 45. Now I do what I have always done, and that is to put my heart and soul into everything I play. People have told me that I am a very animated musician and I guess that's why.... the heart and soul...
    I am fortunate enough to have friends to jam with, some are older and some are younger than me. But as the years go flying by, those jams are becoming fewer and farther between.
    I try to play every day, so I keep my beater acoustic (Sigma) close to the kitchen. I knew I sucked (technically) all those years, but for some unknown reason, I never did anything about it. Was I satisfied with just rhythm guitar and singing? Apparently. Then at 57 I started wondering why I was satisfied being in a guitar rut all those years. I began playing modes and scales, and downloaded exercises off the internet. Started to learn tremolo picking. Now I'm staring 60 in the face, but I don't suck as much at guitar, and I'm okay with that. Oh, you guys were saying that it had to be fun. Ditto to that! I would have stopped long ago if it wasn't fun.
     
  17. Coach56

    Coach56 One of the Boys

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    Nice to know I am not alone out here, lots of folks with stories that resonate.

    I always played bass, bass clarinet then bass guitar. After my first marriage fell apart I moved back out west and played for a living both part time and for a while full time. Came back to the windy city, had a few decent bands that made it as far as the bar scene and then one day it was not as much fun and my new wife asked me to hang it up for a while and help raise our baby.

    In 1990 my little brother bought me a brand new American Strat Plus and I started woodshedding.

    My youngest left the nest for real this past year and I am now at a point where I want to play out again.

    How do I get better, I play 1 to 2 hours in the evening almost every night. I play at dock parties and around the neighborhood when I can find someone to jam with. And every now and then I buy a new piece of gear or a "new to me" guitar. (I am now so far into the 12 string rabbit hole that I don't know if I ever want to get out.)

    And most important of all, I play what I like to play and sing ( do I sense a common thread with that one? )

    Enjoy, life is short and we only get one shot at it!
    -H
     
  18. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Great thread! I have nothing really to contribute. I loved exploring the world of self taught music from the age of 9 on piano and guitar. There was so much spontaneity and creative process back then. During my late 20's and 30's played in a hobby band and played whatever was current. Not real fulfilling, but better than nothing.

    Now, at age 60 I'm getting that organic, creative groove back. Feels good. Thanks to Flat 6 for the great thread!
     
  19. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    I started at 36 and I don't know any of those songs either!

    Since I started playing, I've become a decent player with decent gear, but what I really discovered, contrary to what I thought before I picked up a guitar, is that I don't especially enjoy learning other people's songs. I very much enjoy composing, writing and recording originals.

    Based on my experience and my goals, I suggest playing music you enjoy with people you enjoy playing with. For a real challenge, jam with a horn player!

    Figure out what you enjoy about the hobby, then do that.

    Most of us have jobs that, at least some of the time, require us to do things we don't enjoy. Why pursue a hobby that's like work?
     
  20. dankilling

    dankilling Tele-Afflicted

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    I spent my early years playing trombone. My father was the guitarist in the house, so there was always one within reach, but I never went past some cowboy chords and I wasn't even very good at making clean changes. I ended up becoming a pretty good trombone player, started college as a music major, got lots of theory, and played a lot of jazz. That was my thing- I loved jazz, and got to play with Maynard Ferguson, Dennis DiBlasio, Steve Turre, and others when they swung through town. Toured Europe for a summer. Even got to be in the 'Mandrell Family Christmas' group one year. I put down the trombone at about 25, and became an 'adult' with job, family, and got really into racing bicycles. I was approaching 40, and I couldn't race as fast as I liked, so my mind wandered back to music. I picked up a cheap Squier 'stop dreaming, start playing' kit and the spark re-ignited. Music was still in my blood....

    I've been playing for a little over two years now, and am really happy with how it's going. I won't say I'm good, but I get by. My father (he's in his late 60's now) and I go out and play local shops and events, and my 10yo son sits in for a few numbers- he started taking lessons a few months after I started playing because he also has two cousins who have real talent that he looks up to.

    I'm good on theory, and can read the notes on a page, but am still working on correlating the fretboard to the page, especially chords. I never needed to read chords playing trombone, and my music was always in bass clef. My son's lessons are at the point where he is using the Berkeley books, so as he takes his lessons, I read the lesson notes and have him 'teach' me what he is learning. It keeps us both motivated to do the 'grunt' work of learning an instrument, helps us bond, and we both choose songs we like to work on together. Someday he will be a much better player than me if he sticks with it, I'm sure.

    All I can say is I like the process of (re) learning music, playing, and doing my best. Sure, I'd love to be a better player than I am right now, but I'm always a better player than I was yesterday......
     
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