Author Topic: Learners Tips that have worked for me  (Read 16977 times)

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Offline Craig Howard

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Learners Tips that have worked for me
« on: February 03, 2013, 05:06:40 am »
For the record and full disclosure: I am a learner and doing so later in life ( 50+).  I have "noodled" with guitar and bass for sometime but have recently "focussed" on the goal of learning properly.

I have found a few things that work very well for me as I learn guitar chords and guitar playing.

(Some very obvious but not always mentioned by teachers or website lessons - apart from Justins)

Start every practice with a tuned guitar. (Obvious)  I use my android smartphone  -  app :  Cleartune  ( The graphic display suits my following tips)

Tip: Leave the Tuner running as one practices individual chords (and when  as one explores the fretboard while learning all the positions.)

I have found this tunes my ear and confirms that I am "nailing" the chord that I am learning.

It also helps me  to discover alternate fingerings for the same chord.  I have found some helpful  "cheat chords" by doing this and I am  developing an  understanding of the fretboard same time )

Tip: Play with a sweet guitar tone that allows one to hear mis fingerings ( muted strings, fret buzz..).  Treble up but more classical feel than rock n roll. 

Practicing chords thru a driven fx box can hide bad fingerings and technique.  I try to learn a chord and play it as clean as I can at first...then I guess I can "mess it up " down the track later.  (I do that in a noodling session)

Tip: I always practice with a chord chart and a fretboard map in front of me.  Helps me understand "whys and where's" of any note or chord that I am learning or discover.  Basically it maps my head and the fretboard together.

Tip: Noodling is part of a good practice session (where progress is the aim)..if one is noodling with what one has learnt. eg a bunch of chords, strums, techniques etc...  ie not totally random noodling. ( This has its place as well though.)

Tip: find your own fingering ...to make  the chord. I have fat fingers so I have little workarounds.

Who cares how you make it ...if it sounds right (cool). 
Plenty of great guitarists have their "funny little ways" of doing things.   Ignore the finger charts if you cant do do it as gthey show.  Find an alternate way for your self.

eg. I play A & E chords in first position with just two fingers... but I cover all the correct strings on the correct frets that 3 fingers do in the standard diagrams.

Tip: watch your strumming hand as well or more so  than your fingers on the fretboard.
Amazing how much easier it is to learn some strums while doing this.  The brain - eye- hand coordination is remarkably adept at nailing a strum. eg hitting 2 strings only.  Finger postions and patterns look after themselves once in grained .

(I practice this a lot with Justins Blues Chord Variations)

Tip: dropping my left shoulder downward makes it easier to reach trickier stretch chords (well it does for me).  eg F.

Tip: I play and practice better if I keep my foot tapping. ( i am making this habitual)

Hope this helps someone else.

Learning guitar aint easy. Practice, practice, practice...

Tip: Justin's Guitar site  is probably a learner guitarists very best friend.  I might add.


« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 10:04:50 pm by Craig Howard »
Fender Stratocaster MIM Burst,  RI Fiesta Red; Fender Mustang II and Champ Amps.
FX Pedals: Boss Blues driver, Boss RC3 Loop Station, EP Booster, Zoom Bass FX. Alessis SR16.  Riffstation.

Offline Flashmann

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 05:19:05 pm »
Good points...I already incorporate some,and will try others.....

Good to see another plus 50 beginner!!... ;D

I don't have an android smartphone,or any cell phone for that matter.....I use an online tuner.....

Funkoptamus

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2013, 04:23:37 am »
""Tip: Leave the Tuner running as one practices individual chords (and when  as one explores the fretboard while learning all the positions.)""

This right here is PURE GOLD! I was lucky and started when we had electronic tuners  ;D..

Every practice starts by clipping that sucker up at the top of my Gtar and hitting the on button. You ar so right. It will cut Days/Weeks/Months off of new players growth time. Not only will it help you know you are hitting the right note, but it will train your ear at the same time.

Also with your "Noodling" thing.. It will help people find those new fingering options aswell.

Great post.!

PS: why am I being forced to put together a pair of ladies shoes like some god forsaken puzzle just to reply  ???

Offline Wishbone

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2013, 07:22:39 am »
Funkoptamus-

Insofar as I'm aware (in other words, I can't remember that far back) The captcha's are there until you've made a requisite number of posts, then the system will believe you're human and not from Hartlepool.

 ;)

Offline justinguitar

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2013, 07:53:57 am »
good tips dude!
"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." Dr. Seuss

Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2013, 04:07:38 am »
Appreciate that you commented Justin.

My simple tips  do work for me. (hopefully others)

Other things  working for me  are... "naming chords  in my head" .. saying/ singing internally  name of the chord as and before I play each one.

Visualising the chord  finger patterns  ( with and without a guitar in hand) and "naming them".
Because I finger some chords differently to "conventional fingering in books" ..I visualise them how I form them.

I visualise and practice  the  chord "cheats"  as well.

Also...Listenening real intently to the sounds of chords with simple careful strums   Identifying the differences. eg. e  major : e minor.. Tuning my ear.

FWIW: Most enjoyeable  revelation to me is practicing chords,  beats with various strums . and how they.make the chords work as songs.  ( hooks)

ie. practice chords and strums simultaneously.  Amazing how  a few simple chords become "songs" when different strums are used  eg AED

Biggest inspiration.  Its not easy and many have struggled to learn guitar. 
The penny always  drops.. with serious practice.  ( Its true)




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Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 03:51:31 am »
The more I noodle around and practice..the more I discover.

Maybe this one helps others but I really hope someone  will check it out ( by analysing how they make chord changes slowly)

I was practicing chord changes very slowly and strumming slowly just so I heard every string ring ( clean and clear).

(A little practice discipline I drop into my sessions often because I love the tone ringing on the strings and I can hear if I make all of them  clean.)

When making the chord change...I discovered that I was leading off with one  finger or some fingers  before lifting the others off to move them to their new notes / positions.  A very smooth and subtle movement but observeable when playing slowly. ( slo mo)

Now this might be what Justin and others call "anchoring" but to me it feels like "leading off... from the anchor".  ie my effort and focus  is about  moving on ...not staying back. 

My brain is saying we are going to "next chord and this is how we are going to get there.  You fingers..follow me.now!

Thought about this a lot and came up with a theory of  why it works for me and feels great when doing so.

Its a big mental and co ordination challenge if a learner ( like me) is concentrating on re forming all  the fingering for the next chord  while mid change... ie  fingers  in the air off the frets.

Its like looking at the chord fingering diagram..re creating it in your head...co ordinating it to the diagram and then forming it in open space...then planting it onto the fretboard ( hopefully where it should be).

Leading off ...directly to  the fret target really helps me form my chords, memorise the patterns etc.

BTW:Lead off is usually the INDEX Finger  (seems appropriate and obvious.. but it is not always that one)

So much so that I now frequently practice chords with my eyes averted or closed or watching the strum hand alone...while nailing the chords effectively.

This might sound real  mad    ...but when I do this...I can feel the sensitivity of my finger tips  increase significantly to the point  that I can feel the presence of the adjacent strings and how my fingers are on the strings.

FWIW: I have done the 1 minute chord change exercises and can easily achieve the goals... but this is about what happens in between those changes.
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Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 12:44:07 am »
Wanted to add another little tip I discovered for myself.

As learners we tend to lean the guitar back (too far) just so we can see the strings and  place our fingers visually.

This actually makes it harder to form the chord because it bends the wrist a lot more than it should and makes the fingers go claw like and even sideways.

Learner to learner tip: Straighten the guitar up ( vertically) as much as you can as often as you can.

This helps physically (ergonomically)  but also helps mentally develop chord memory and the pattern withoutit being done on visual cues. ie looking at fingers , strings, frets.

Does for me anyway.
Fender Stratocaster MIM Burst,  RI Fiesta Red; Fender Mustang II and Champ Amps.
FX Pedals: Boss Blues driver, Boss RC3 Loop Station, EP Booster, Zoom Bass FX. Alessis SR16.  Riffstation.

Offline stitch101

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 01:11:42 am »
Craig
I always tell beginners to use their ears not their eyes. In other words listen to where your fingers are
don't look where your fingers are. Your ears will not lie to you. If you are laying a chord wrong your ears
will tell you right away.

Offline mike42

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2013, 01:33:14 am »
Wanted to add another little tip I discovered for myself.

As learners we tend to lean the guitar back (too far) just so we can see the strings and  place our fingers visually.

This actually makes it harder to form the chord because it bends the wrist a lot more than it should and makes the fingers go claw like and even sideways.

Learner to learner tip: Straighten the guitar up ( vertically) as much as you can as often as you can.

This has been a problem for me, especially when i first started.

One thing I sometimes do if I'm practicing in the evening is to turn the lights off so it's too dark to actually see the fretboard. It forces me to rely on just my ears and muscle memory.

It isn't too difficult when playing things in just one area of the fretboard, but if it's a song with a lot of large movements it can become a real test. I don't do it too often but every once in a while I test myself to see if I've been "cheating" too much by leaning over to look at the fretboard.

I guess it'd be the same to just close your eyes or something, but I've found that this is the best way to force myself to rely on my ears, and it removes the incentive to "cheat" because there's simply no way to see what I'm doing.


Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 09:32:09 pm »

Noticed yesterday during a long practice session....my wrist was hurting a little and my fingers  tightening up on the fret board.

Despite an upright guitar ...what I discovered was I had dropped the neck down and it was virtually parallel to the floor.

I raised the neck and instant relief .....as well as better formed chords which were far  easier to make.

Try it in both positions and see how it feels and what it does to the ergo on the wrist an hand/fingers.

Worked for me.
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itouchdownthere

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2013, 02:13:49 am »
I had struggled with guitar since the early 70's to the late 80's. I found what worked best for me was when i started buying more guitars. The more i had the more i wanted to play, every time i buy a guitar i put in a altered tunning and thats what i name that guitar. ( Donna D ) ( Gloria G ) ect. I get most of these guitars at pawn shops or estate sales and Craig's list. and have found some pretty sweet deals over the last few yrs.
 
Not only have i ended up with a nice collection of players for myself but i have several that i let the grandkids play and take home. Keep in mind tho if you devote one Saturday a month to such a hobby you will end up with Banjo's,Mandolins,Fiddles ect. Some deals are just to good to pass up and when your a lover of music and instruments you can always find a happy home for them.

   

Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2013, 07:56:47 am »
I appreciate that it works for you and I do understand collecting and appreciating cool stuff..but for me...if I could be competent  on only one guitar ...I would be a very satisfied man.

To those ends...I try and focus only on the music and what it takes for me to get there.

Been a dream of a lifetime and the time is now.
Fender Stratocaster MIM Burst,  RI Fiesta Red; Fender Mustang II and Champ Amps.
FX Pedals: Boss Blues driver, Boss RC3 Loop Station, EP Booster, Zoom Bass FX. Alessis SR16.  Riffstation.

Offline bradt

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2013, 08:56:27 am »
I've really enjoyed this thread so far, and I hope you don't mind if I add something that I have noticed over my learning experience.

We often hear about this thing called "muscle memory". There is some truth to the concept, but I'm not sure that I completely buy into the value of it. Muscle memory is mechanical memory, and mechanical memory only applies to the current song. Sure there's value in it, but I don't think it is the most valuable aspect.

I think the more appropriate name is "muscle trust".

When we start playing we grab that chord and hold it proudly. We've learned it and it is ours, so we grip it and strum. Over time we learn that maybe we don't need to grab it and hold it. We've long ago learned the chord but we need to trust our fingers to make it quickly and move on. When we can do this, we can relax more, and our playing improves. Muscle memory is good, but muscle trust is the goal.

This becomes especially valuable in single note riffs. To develop any sort of proficiency, you often have to move without thinking about it much. You can't tell your fingers where to go and then make sure they get there each time. You have to just trust that they will do what they have been trained to do, and let them do it.

This is a hard thing to do, but it happens with practice.

Offline FChris

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2013, 10:51:23 am »
@bradt: This kinda sounds like the stuff being written in "The Inner Game of Music". Could it be that you read it too? This book explains what you just said with a lot of detail which helped me.
Guitar is a lot about getting there, not arriving. - Drubbing

Offline bradt

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2013, 01:59:52 pm »
@bradt: This kinda sounds like the stuff being written in "The Inner Game of Music". Could it be that you read it too? This book explains what you just said with a lot of detail which helped me.

I've never even heard of it, but I'm off to look for it now.  :)

thanks

Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2013, 07:23:04 pm »
I certainly dont wish to debate the difference of "muscle memory" or "muscle trust" because I simply put it down to "magic".

Means "I dont have to think about it". ( and thats the objective)

Amazes me though , that I can study and practice something like a new chord for a hour or 2 and bingo...within a day or two...I am going to it as if I have always known it.

Its a brilliant feeling when I can also visualise it in my head ( away from the guitar) as a chord pattern on the strings... when I run thru all the chords I know to date.

At my learning stage one of the constant challenges now...is not the forming of the chord , but making the chord changes quicker. 

I am practicing "chord changes in a minute" as well as practicing by playing songs that offer that particular chord challenge of the moment.

Step by Step by step...
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Offline stitch101

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2013, 07:34:36 pm »
Quick tip on speeding up chord changes.

If your metronome has a setting to speed up set it about 10-15 bpm slower than you can play comfortably
and have it speed up a couple of beats ever 5 or 10 beat. Keep up with the clicks until you start to make
mistakes. Stop and start again. Do this a couple of time a day and in no time you'll be doing chord changes
faster than you thought possible .

Offline bradt

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2013, 08:33:32 pm »
I certainly dont wish to debate the difference of "muscle memory" or "muscle trust" because I simply put it down to "magic".

Oh, I don't want to debate the difference either. Sorry if I came off that way. Muscle memory has just always felt like an incomplete term to me. "magic" seems like a good middle ground. :)

Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2013, 12:26:20 am »
Wow..thats a pretty cool tip. (below)

Got a link or brand of a metronome that does that?

I could probably even simulate that in Transcribe to a degree..

Thanx

Quick tip on speeding up chord changes.

If your metronome has a setting to speed up set it about 10-15 bpm slower than you can play comfortably
and have it speed up a couple of beats ever 5 or 10 beat. Keep up with the clicks until you start to make
mistakes. Stop and start again. Do this a couple of time a day and in no time you'll be doing chord changes
faster than you thought possible .
Fender Stratocaster MIM Burst,  RI Fiesta Red; Fender Mustang II and Champ Amps.
FX Pedals: Boss Blues driver, Boss RC3 Loop Station, EP Booster, Zoom Bass FX. Alessis SR16.  Riffstation.

Offline stitch101

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2013, 02:15:07 am »
I use the one in this free guitar program. I downloaded it quite a few years ago. It has some pretty cool
things in it. I use it mainly to write out tabs. I haven't had any problems with it but I got it before the
advertising was added.

http://www.guitar-and-bass-software.com/eng/

Offline dezag.c

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2013, 02:08:43 pm »
From another 50+ learner with  short fingers i find pulling in my elbow helps me  stretching between the middle and ring fingers

Offline Craig Howard

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2013, 08:15:16 pm »
From another 50+ learner with  short fingers i find pulling in my elbow helps me  stretching between the middle and ring fingers

Not sure which way "pulling in" meant but I assume you mean ...elbow towards your body.

I now do the opposite ( elbow out / away from my body) ...because if my elbow is in...it twists/ bends my wrist or it makes my fingers angle on to the fretboard. That makes it difficult to get just my finger tips on the frets.

When I started ..I was doing it your way (eg on Major F, B chords) but it just meant I was playing the stretch frets,  with the sides of my finger tips ( not the tips).   The sides of ones fingers are thicker than the tips and can also tend to infringe muffle other strings when angled across them. IMHO.

I started working on this after seeing Justin talk about it in a lesson about the stretchy chords.  I wondered how in hell he was geting the clean wrist and fingering angle that he did . I just thought...long fingers.  Lucky guy.

Summary of  what works for me is . Angle of the guitar neck (inclined up . not level), drop shoulder down and in to guitar a little, elbow away from body.

BTW - I have short and thick fingers.  :'(   but I am getting there fine.
Fender Stratocaster MIM Burst,  RI Fiesta Red; Fender Mustang II and Champ Amps.
FX Pedals: Boss Blues driver, Boss RC3 Loop Station, EP Booster, Zoom Bass FX. Alessis SR16.  Riffstation.

Creatively Forward

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2013, 09:20:42 pm »
Quick tip on speeding up chord changes.

If your metronome has a setting to speed up set it about 10-15 bpm slower than you can play comfortably
and have it speed up a couple of beats ever 5 or 10 beat. Keep up with the clicks until you start to make
mistakes. Stop and start again. Do this a couple of time a day and in no time you'll be doing chord changes
faster than you thought possible .

Might I also add - constantly record yourself with the metronome and play back. It's a very sobering process, very difficult to truly play to time with a metronome, but in the long run you'll sound great!

Offline TotallyClueless

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Re: Learners Tips that have worked for me
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2013, 05:02:28 am »
Nice tips! I'll add my two cents for beginners out there who want to start improvising or transcribing:

1. I found it very helpful to mess around on the whole guitar neck when I was a beginner. When you begin playing guitar, for a period of time you are working on the first 4 frets, whether its chords or notes. Before starting to transcribe, see how your strings sound lower down the neck. This will later save you a lot of time when transcribing, as you will know the approximate place where to look for the sound you hear.

2. When I first started to improvise I had trouble making it sound like music, even with somewhat working knowledge of harmonics. What I did was, I took any song I liked and started playing around, adding some fillers and licks, trying out chords that might sound good with what was already in a song (if there is an Em, chances are Am will sound pretty good,etc). I also changed the strumming patterns or tried to finger pick the strumming parts.

Then I gradually replaced the original stuff in the song with what I found by messing around. After doing this with a few songs of similar "mood", I had a pretty good idea of what I could use if I wanted my improvisation to sound like, lets say, slow blues.


 

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