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Breaking old bad habits and forming new good ones


(@minotaur)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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The quick strumming! thread got me thinking.

My new teacher won't let me do stuff like that yet in our lessons. Why? Because before going back to lessons, and having been on my own from all of August '08 to beginning of June '09... a full 10 months, I developed some really bad habits, mostly having to do with timing, strumming, chord changes and speed. No wonder I feel like I haven't made any progress.

I've been trying to change chords too fast, before learning how to fully form them and lay down muscle memory and neural pathways ("geek speek" for "practice makes perfect" :P ). My consistency in timing and strumming is just not there for the most part. Oh sure, there are some simple things that sound OK, and parts of songs that sound good, but on the whole my playing the song sucks. No point in not being brutally honest.

So I'm putting my ego aside and looking at my training and practice from the perspective of a total beginner. No more cheating, no more trying to blast through a song. Spend time on exercises designed to lay down the proper techniques.

For example, as I've posted in the past, something that's bugged me is the verse rhythm for Proud Mary. Sure, you can do it a million ways, not the least of which is a straight D U D U ad infinitum (or ad nauseum). And there are others, but the one I like the best, and think comes closest to the original recording is D U x U U x U. The x is a muted downstroke. In fact, as my teacher played with the recording I knew that was the sound I wanted. That was as close as I've ever heard anyone cover the song. What's the problem? I never learned how to do muting of one stroke!

Another one is House of the Rising Sun done arpeggio. I can strum it 6/8 very nicely... all the way through. And even Bob Dylan covered it strumming. But that's not how I want to do it. I want to do it arpeggio, partly because it's the most recognizable version, and because as JFK said "We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard".

So those are an exercise and assignment and challenge for the next two weeks (July has 5 weeks, and our lessons are only 4 weeks in a month... we get a break :) ). I'm going to learn how to do that.

The Cliff Notes to all this:
Bad habits are easy to form and hard to break.
:?

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@coolnama)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Thats very good ^^. Its great when one can look at themselves from another perspective and see all the negative things ( playing, life etc ) to work on them, so you, sir, are on the right path ^^.

Alot of begginers tend to forget about strumming and focus alot more on the left hand when the right hand is as important, or maybe even more.

Cause if your left hand was cut in a tragic final destination accident, you could still pluck the strings in Open G Tuning :D.
But if your right hand was cut, O_O you'd need alot of gain, and volume so you could hammer-on and pull off O_O, and you would have to use something else to dampen the strings, so it doesn' sound like a mess ^^.

But yeah I'm glad your instructor saw the error in your ways, because sometimes one gets stuck for a long time and we don't realise that its just a small little thing that doesn't let us move along, but we don't see it , and now he pointed it out for you so you can overcome it.

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....


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(@minotaur)
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Alot of begginers tend to forget about strumming and focus alot more on the left hand when the right hand is as important, or maybe even more.

Funny you should mention that because that's exactly one of the things we talked about. We were working on Working Class Hero. My strumming and timing must have come from outer space. Oh it sounded like the song, but I couldn't line up the chord change to G where it should be. He told me I was worrying too much about what my left hand was doing: picking the open A, the hammer on the D string, plus trying to strum (Am). He said, "just hit the strings, any strings of the chord, but keep the rhythm going".
But yeah I'm glad your instructor saw the error in your ways, because sometimes one gets stuck for a long time and we don't realise that its just a small little thing that doesn't let us move along, but we don't see it , and now he pointed it out for you so you can overcome it.

In all honesty, I was thinking of quitting again, this time for good, thinking I don't have the aptitude for playing guitar. But what he pointed out to me, and not in a fascist or nazi way, since he's very mellow and laid back and goofy, but by example, and "c'mon, follow me" was an epiphany. It's not that I don't have the aptitude or that I'm so stupid I can't get this (sometimes I have self-confidence and self-esteem issues, being bipolar), but I never learned or practiced right.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@coolnama)
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Yeah your teacher is right but not you have the right direction, a good not nazi direction O_O xD

We all have self-esteem issues ( or atleast thats what I tell myself to keep my self-esteem up :P ), and the thoughts come when your writing a song, or composing or just playing, one starts to get thoughts in the head like "why am I playing ?, I'll never be any good at this" ( I've thought that xD ) but the thing is to have fun and get better by having fun, quitting is a no-no .

I have a friend that I think has a problem like yours, because he's like really so tense when he is playing that it sounds bad, you gotta let it roll of your fingers, and let it be natural, and have a good time and do weird faces while you're playing, again I'm not sure if this is your problem, but you say you are focusing too much on your left hand ? ( My friend doesn't have a teacher ^^)

I'm not sure what level you are at yet, but chords should feel natural, and chord changes should feel natural too, well some chord changes feel awkward but thats what practice is for, and when you've got the chord changes down just let the music take you, and listen to what you're playing and just go with it, and relax and have fun, ^_^.

That is why I have such a problem when somebody wants to do a note-for-note cover of a song, when I play whatever it is, it feels so empty so "not mine", so then I can't get into the groove and end up sucking xD.

Everytime I pick up my guitar I automatically do a G chord to a D chord do a Cadd 9 chord, its like a tick, because I practiced that SO much because I couldn't get G to D.

My problem with picking is when I'm doing lines some people say I pick too hard, and you can hear the sound when the pick hits the string o.o. But that is for another thread O_O.

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....


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(@minotaur)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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I have a friend that I think has a problem like yours, because he's like really so tense when he is playing that it sounds bad, you gotta let it roll of your fingers, and let it be natural, and have a good time and do weird faces while you're playing, again I'm not sure if this is your problem, but you say you are focusing too much on your left hand ? ( My friend doesn't have a teacher ^^)

Like a lot of other people, both my teachers have said this, I get flustered in front of him and forget what to do. I make a joke out of it and say "well, I really do know this chord" or "I do know the strings, believe me". And we laugh. Last night we got it going and were playing in synch. When I got home I played/practiced another two hours and did pretty well.
I'm not sure what level you are at yet, but chords should feel natural, and chord changes should feel natural too, well some chord changes feel awkward but thats what practice is for, and when you've got the chord changes down just let the music take you, and listen to what you're playing and just go with it, and relax and have fun, ^_^.

Yeah, I pretty much know how to form most of the chords I need in the songs I like. If I do them slowly and with thought I don't have a problem. I just try to do them too fast, like a lot of beginners, and I flub. In fact last night was the one time my teacher said don't be like the kids and try to go too fast. I have a mental block and a problem in Imagine with the A (h)A# B riff in the verses. Again... trying to go too fast. Btw, a A/A# slide works also. :D
That is why I have such a problem when somebody wants to do a note-for-note cover of a song, when I play whatever it is, it feels so empty so "not mine", so then I can't get into the groove and end up sucking xD.

I felt that way too... wanting to do a song like the original, but you just can't. There are a million covers of songs, some that even sound better than the original. And like my teacher said about Imagine or Working Class Hero, it's not like John Lennon is going to come back and call me a stupid effin bloke for playin' the bloody songs all wrong.

So, I'm OK with starting all over again but with a big head start. Hey, Aerosmith said "You got to lose to know how to win" (another song on my hit list to learn).

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@coolnama)
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Yeah I know what you mean about flubbing in front of the teacher, that used to happen to me, but since I've had the same teacher for a while its cool, but one time I was with my uncle in one of his classes and I was like , but we played ^^.

But yeah take it slow I too tried to go too fast like all the kids these days , xD. Its not like you are starting over O_O you already have all that muscle memory built up, and finger dexterity.

Its not like you are playing for anybody but for yourself, its something you do for fun, don't let it turn into a job ( well unless you start gigging ). But what I mean that it should never be like a chore you have to do.

Now start brekaing those bad habits :D

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)

You gotta set your sights high to get high!

Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn.

( wise stuff man! )

Its Kirby....


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(@matteo)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 557
 

The quick strumming! thread got me thinking.

.

For example, as I've posted in the past, something that's bugged me is the verse rhythm for Proud Mary. Sure, you can do it a million ways, not the least of which is a straight D U D U ad infinitum (or ad nauseum). And there are others, but the one I like the best, and think comes closest to the original recording is D U x U U x U. The x is a muted downstroke. In fact, as my teacher played with the recording I knew that was the sound I wanted. That was as close as I've ever heard anyone cover the song. What's the problem? I never learned how to do muting of one stroke!

hi mate

you're doing the right thing. If it is a consolation i'm back to fingerings exercises and scales and arpeggios (a few things i neglected big time in the past) because i realized that witout developing left hand properly i'll never be able to play advanced heavy metal songs like Iron Maiden ones.
Having said so just a quick note about Prod Mary aong we used to play with my band

the real pattern is Du/xu/Du/xu: this means that each time you play beat 2 and four downstroke you must mute it. This mute is done with fret hand releasing the fingers a bit.

cheers

Matteo

p.s. by the way CCR use this pattern in almost all their songs so it is a good idea to spent a bit of time to learn it.


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(@minotaur)
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[the real pattern is Du/xu/Du/xu: this means that each time you play beat 2 and four downstroke you must mute it. This mute is done with fret hand releasing the fingers a bit.

cheers

Matteo

p.s. by the way CCR use this pattern in almost all their songs so it is a good idea to spent a bit of time to learn it.

Aha! There's a downstroke where I have an upstroke (from an internet video lesson):
CCR's: Du/xu/Du/xu
Video: Du/xu/uu/xu

Almost the same except for that one downstroke. I've tried doing a mute/damp of the strings with my right hand, but I'm not there yet. I can get it to mute by lifting my left fingers a bit. So I was right in doing it that way.

My lesson for tonight. Thanks.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@matteo)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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hi mate

the strummin pattern you found in the video lesson it seems quite strange because in alternate picking you follow each downstroke with an upstroke so that if you're playing in a quaver feel (like in Proud mary), it is almost impossible to play that way, unless the pattern is referred to two measures. Are you sure that the pattern you saw was referred to the verse? because it seems me more apt to play the last part of the main riff which is (i go by memory)

du/du*/u/du (*change from c to a)
du/du/u/du (*change from c to a)

du/du*/u*/U*/u*/du/d/d (change chord from c to a to g to f to d)

Regarding fret-hand muting it is quite easy to learn expecially if you play bar chords (and do remember that CCR play the song with bar chords). Before trying to play it with the progression, you could try this exercise: form a barre (i.e. an A chord on 5th fret) and play a simple du pattern in quaver feel, then play the same pattern releasing a bit the fingers. You will see how little you have to release the fingers to obtain the scratch sound. When you can play the scratches start to alternate full and scartched strums until you get the pattern. Do this exercise and i'm sure you'lle get it quite soon.
Additional note: the best way to learn a new pattern is to play it on a single chord on muted strings, this way you can concentrate on the rhythmic side

cheers

Matteo


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(@minotaur)
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hi mate
Are you sure that the pattern you saw was referred to the verse? because it seems me more apt to play the last part of the main riff which is (i go by memory)

du/du*/u/du (*change from c to a)
du/du/u/du (*change from c to a)

du/du*/u*/U*/u*/du/d/d (change chord from c to a to g to f to d)

Yes, it was the verse. I have no problem with the intro, except for changing to the Fmaj still being slow for me.

Here's the video I was watching. Check the time stamp @ 4:16. That's where he describes the verse pattern.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJpZ9CXc_uk&feature=channel_page

I can see him releasing his fretting hand, and he says to use the palm of the right hand simultaneously to mute the strings. My teacher was playing it this way, though I don't know if he's seen this video. But what he played was exactly like this. Maybe it's what people hear.
Regarding fret-hand muting it is quite easy to learn expecially if you play bar chords (and do remember that CCR play the song with bar chords). Before trying to play it with the progression, you could try this exercise: form a barre (i.e. an A chord on 5th fret) and play a simple du pattern in quaver feel, then play the same pattern releasing a bit the fingers. You will see how little you have to release the fingers to obtain the scratch sound. When you can play the scratches start to alternate full and scartched strums until you get the pattern. Do this exercise and i'm sure you'lle get it quite soon.
Additional note: the best way to learn a new pattern is to play it on a single chord on muted strings, this way you can concentrate on the rhythmic side

cheers

Matteo

I did not know they play(ed) it with barre chords. Everything I've seen shows open chords. It may be that this was little too advanced for me to have jumped into when I did. But I am determined to get it.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@matteo)
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hi mate

ehm i do not have audio (i'm at work) so i can only see the images but it seems he's playing

du mute udu mute udu mute etc. (the same pattern i suggested)

regarding the mutes i see his playing with open chords but let me assure you it is a lot easier to mute with bar chords since you have no open strings to silence (with bar chords you do not need any additional mute with right hand to stop the strings!). When you learn how to release string it is time to place the muting in the correct point (on beats 2 and four downstroke) and to do it so it is better to have a idea of the resulting soud which is the classic chugging sound typical of 60's rock/blues (even if in this case it's played with straight eights)

just sing by yourself

da da duh da da da duh da da duh etc.

I'm not joking it: if you can sing a rhythm it helps you to internalize it and play it correctly. You can also play it with you hands as a flurry of eight taps, accenting 3rd and 7th tap.
You can be sure that when you'll have the sound in your head fret-hand muting won't be a trouble no more.

cheers

Matteo


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