I'm getting distressed!
Hey guys, I need some guidance.
I'm in my last year of my four year university program. I started playing acoustic guitar two years ago. At this point I own a fender acoustic/electric DG14, and a Jay Turser strat knock off. I love my acoustic guitar, I'm deffinatly an acoustic guy. My JT I mostly use to play at night (headphones), or to work on my solo pattern speed.
Anyway, since I'm at university for 8 months of the year, I only take lessons durring the summer. I tried to take lessons with another teacher in the winter, but they both have their own course styles, so I never felt the extra cash I was spending was helping enough durring the winter. I love my summer teacher, and he knows my situation and always puts me last so I can get some extra time, and tries to keep me moving at a good pace. However, this year at school has been crazy. I have oodles of projects, seminars, papers, and research to do. I went all last week without touching a guitar. I picked it up yesterday and I didn't know what to do with it!
My residence complex actually has open mic nights in the lounge once a month, and I've been to listen to the other guys. I know it's not a competition, but I often think "I could play that better." Except when I try, I often find I don't think I sound as nice. Technically it's as good if not better, but when I strum chords, there's some scratching, or squeaking, or emphasis on certain strings that just make it not sound as "smooth". I remember spending hours last year strumming slowly and constnatly, trying to build up a constant tone with my strums, but I think I jsut don't have "the touch" even if my technical skill is good.
I played at one of these open mics a few months ago, everyone clapped, I hated it, I just assume they were being nice. I know I'm always goign to be my worst critic, but the music I play just doesn't feel like "Me". I'm playing pop because it's easy, or others want to hear it, but it's not a style for me, and I think that's really what might be slowing me down.
Obviously singing is a low point for me. I'm sure we all say that. My summer guitar teacher said he'd help me with that next time we get together, so I'm hoping that helps me.
My problem is I'm not driven anymore. I don't think anyone would really want to hear me play, or sing, my soloing seems stuck in some rutt where they might be slightly different, but it's allways the same "feel" to them, when I think about playing, I feel I have other things I should be doing. But I know I want to play, and I want to play for people, even if it's just the family. But I can't find my place, and I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions.
As an asside... I was watching "Cool Hand Luke" last night, and they have a lot of 50s 60s tunes in it, so simple, but they captivated me! Anything acoustic, or solo-acoustic I love. I think John Mayer is one of the most underated artists. Brad Paisley seems a great guitarist (Though he also has some crazy awesome country vocals). Now, I am fairly new, and for all I know they do simple things, but that's the kind of stuff that I love to hear, and I think my newbie poor strumming isn't enough for me to feel I could "take it on the road", at least not without a voice to back it up.
Anyway, this is long enoug. I hope someone understands where I am right now. I think if I could get one song I love to play, and am proud to sing and play, that it might just break me out of this, but I look, and I just can't find it.
"Now people put you down for the way that you lived
But those people never knew you the way that I did
Don't be ashamed of who you were of how you died
I know you just wanted to find the brighter side..." - OPM
You know, I am sure your hectic school schedule is to be blamed rather than your guitaring abilities. Just last week, I was having a crappy week at work and it was having a direct affect on my playing. So what I have learned is after an overloaded work day/week, I play something that I already know. For example, I would go through an extensive warm up (walking excercise, few scales, some simple lead riffs), strum a few chords/do some chord changes and call it a day. I postpone learning something creative and new till the work routine and my spirits have gotten better.
"I played at one of these open mics a few months ago, everyone clapped, I hated it, I just assume they were being nice."
I dont think they clapped because they wanted to be nice and I will tell you why. Each and every muggle (non-music folks in our case :)) wish that they could play. So when they see someone get up one the stage and wield their instrument, they can't stop but acknowledge your courgae, determination as well as the music you present to them. We, the magical folks, often overlook this fact. Plus, we all are our worst critics. So, I would say, if they were clapping, they enjoyed what they heard.
But if you feel like your stumming needs work, then you know what you need to work on. The next step would be to find resources to help you fix the problem. I am sure Noteboat, Wes, David and/or other experienced player would gladly offer their advises. You could even record a bit of your playing and post it here. That, i think would be a good way to get some constructive feedback.
As far as the drive is concerned. I always find that listening to something new helps. Also, watching your fav band play helps a lot. Just the other day, I was watching the "sweet child of mine" video on google and it immediatly motivated me to work on my lead.
Last but not the least, if you cant find a song that resonates with you, you have a very good reason to write your own song.
Latest addition: Cover of "Don't Panic" by Coldplay
you are fine.
just begin thinking of yourself as someone who will play guitar the rest of thier life.
you will be getting better and better each year.
practice when you can. play the things you know over again every year. you'll be amazed at your growth.
the best way to be better in public is tpo play in public.
at your dorm you have a willing and friendly audience.
audience usually means non players. so what you have is amazing to them.
I know I'm always going to be my worst critic, but the music I play just doesn't feel like "Me". I'm playing pop because it's easy, or others want to hear it, but it's not a style for me, and I think that's really what might be slowing me down.
My problem is I'm not driven anymore.
I was watching "Cool Hand Luke" last night, and they have a lot of 50s 60s tunes in it, so simple, but they captivated me! Anything acoustic, or solo-acoustic I love.
I think if I could get one song I love to play, and am proud to sing and play, that it might just break me out of this, but I look, and I just can't find it.
Dude... I'm going out on a limb here but... maybe you should play music you like? :) I just snipped out the bits of your message that seemed to keep saying the same message - you want to play a different style and enjoy playing. I don't think you should get hung up on what other people what to listen to. Music's gotta say something to you if you want to feel it. And if you feel it, it'll say something to others. I'd say get the Cool Hand Luke sound track, go download the tabs, and get cracking on a brand new set of songs that you actually want to play.
It seems to me like you answered your problem for yourself already, you just have to re-read your post.
Thats my opinion... anyway, I'm so much more a newbie than you... but it really did seem to me like you had the answer right in front of you...
A very nice post and some nice replies. I feel for you. I will say that Dog was spot on in that people don't clap because they have to and they do respect you can play and they can't. It seems you are being a bit hard on yourself as many of us are. You can look at your playing in many different perspectives. Say a week, a month, a year, or your whole guitar-playing "career."
Honestly, how long do you expect to play guitar? If it's a year then be in a SERIOUS hurry to do everything fast. If you plan for several years or the rest of your life (until your body can't) then think long-term. You're smart to focus on your studies because that's the primary goal. Guitar is a hobby behind your studies. I like that you and your Summer teacher jive well. Very cool.
I may sound a bit wacky here but I will ask you to do one thing for me. Please print out this post and get a manilla folder. Write "guitar question" on the front of the folder andput it in a folder in your file cabinet. One year from now pull that folder out and read your question (along with our suggestions). Then think about if you've traversed the problem (post) of today.
"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."
Matthew wrote: I'm in my last year of my four year university program
Matthew, (good name, BTW, it's our son's name, too)
I just re-read your post, and this first line jumped out at me. If you are going to be finishing your college career in a few months, you may feel restless/unsettled/dissatisfied/disconnected (insert your own feelings here) about a lot of things just now.
If you went straight into university after high school, then school has made up most of your life so far, and you may not know exactly what will happen when you take that next step out beyond. It was many many moons ago, but I remember that feeling. It was as if the rug was being pulled out from under me, but slowly and with my full knowledge that it was happening.
Unless you need to make a living performing what you're told to, you should play the music you want to, and not pop just because you think it's what others want to hear. Whatever kind of music you play, even if it's nursery rhymes, there will always be people who will gather to listen, because there's just nothing better than musicians performing live. I guarantee you that in any crowd, most of the listeners are thinking, "Gee, I wish I could do that." And the girls are also thinking, "God, I love guys who play the guitar".
You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. I think we all have "cycles" or "biorhythms", or some-such operating in our lives, and at times we are driven in a particular pursuit, and at other times we need to coast for a while. If you are studying hard, or concentrating on potential employment after graduation, then now is not the time to flog yourself over your guitar playing or your singing performance. For now let your guitar be your friend and a solace from your studies and the stress of uncertainties about the future.
Congrats on your upcoming graduation, and best wishes!
When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~