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Mistakes I made alo...
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Mistakes I made along the way.

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Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 228
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Hello all...let me start by apologizing for the long post.

It's been a while since my last visit here. It's good to be back...and not just to the Guitar Noise forums...but to the guitar. I know everyone takes a break from playing. For me, the break lasted about a year. I was playing the same stuff over and over, and not getting much better at it. I had overloaded myself with theory and the technical aspects of music. I ate, drank and breathed it..every second of the day...even at work. A few years go by and at that point, my teacher said my progression, from his view point, was no longer vertical. So we agreed that my money would be better spent elsewhere. Looking back, he was a good teacher.

I found another teacher. A tremendously talented finger-style guitarist very active and successful in the local music scene. Great player, not a great teacher, in my opinion. I watched him jam...that was it. He didn't teach. So a month goes by and we part ways. From that point, I just started practicing the songs I had already learned...and I stopped learning new things. Bad move. The recipe was done..I had hit the wall..hard. I had had enough and I walked away, fed up...mostly with myself. I had been playing for about 5 years..I knew plenty of songs, and scales, and chords, and theory..but just did not feel very...musical. All I did was practice...I forgot about "playing" music. I felt..mechanical.

Fast forward..I pick up the guitar again..about 6 months ago. I knew I needed to go in a different direction. I haven't found another teacher, but I did enroll in a on-line music class at Berklee College of Music to try and expand my learning. For the course grades, I record myself over backing tracks and send them to the instructor. I have 2 assignments each week. The assignments are pretty basic at this point, but I seem to be "playing" music...the timing, flow, progression and "feeling" of the piece I'm working on...and I hear it (or the lack of it) in the recordings. This class won't take the place of a good flesh and blood teacher and I hope to find one soon...a teacher that is interested not just in his/her wallet, but in my growth. The search continues.

So the moral (and my advice to new players) to this story is..don't just practice music and try to feel it. Try recording yourself playing a simple open chord progression to a backing track, then listen to's a valuable learning tool. I wish I had done it years ago. Learn something new every day and keep it simple at first. Don't overwhelm yourself with theory, take it a bit at a time. Don't be too hard on yourself when things don't go your way. If you can afford it, find a teacher that wants you to grow as a guitarist. Yes, they do exist...many of those teachers frequent this very forum.

So looking back, the break I took wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I think it gave me the insight I needed to start playing music..not just to go through the motions. And I hope my experience can help others not make the same mistakes.


I may grow old, but I'll never grow up.

Estimable Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 75

So up to the point of Berkele you didn't record yourself? Or play over backing tracks. The two best ways to learn. As soon as I could put two notes together I started recording for prosperity sake and I listen to them often and found I've gotten better and better. I record almost every time I practice.

Active Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 12

Unfortunately, the best things to learn to becoming a good musician and to improvising are not usually taught, although they are not terribly difficult:

* target tones
* avoid tones
* phrasing
* expressing harmonic change through the improvised line

Chord/scale theory disregards the first two and fourth bullet points, which makes it less than ideal as far as learning to improvise.

Music, Improvisation, and Jazz Education