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What to do when you are feeling disheartened?

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Robbieboy
(@robbieboy)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 19
Topic starter  

Hi,

Just wondering if there might be a person or persons who can relate to the following and if so, if that person or persons might have some tips or encouragement that might help...

I first started playing maybe a year and a half ago now, when I took a beginner's course at my local 'adult learning' centre. This was just a real basic beginner's course, learning a basic repertoire of chords and some strumming patterns etc.
I attended this course with an old school buddy who had told me he was keen to do the course, get together with me regularly to practise etc etc.

After I completed this basic course a number of people told me the best way to progress would be to get myself a private tutor. I duly did this and have been taking lessons once a week (for the best part of a year now) with a young fellow who not only seems to be a fine guitarist but is also a thoroughly pleasant chap too. But I really feel like I am in a rut, and now almost twelve months on I really don't feel like I know very much, only 'bitsa this', 'bitsa that'. I feel like if someone asked me to play something for them, I couldn't even play them a complete song that sounds half-decent! We (the tutor and I) seem to spend inordinate amounts of time going over the same bits he has been teaching me, and I feel like I am getting nowhere!!

Compunding this problem is the fact that the old school buddy (whom I took the beginner's course with) lost interest several months ago, and none of my other friends are interested in playing. So I've lost my practise buddy, which I am sure is (was) a very important thing to have, in terms of motivation and enthusiasm.

Just before Christmas my Mum and Dad came over to visit and I tried to play something in front of them. Well, I just fell to pieces and my hands were shaking like a leaf. This made me even more disheartened about my efforts and really it has only been in the last one or two days that I have done a little practice.

So, can anyone relate to this? Should I get a new tutor? And where does one find a practise buddy when your practise buddy bails out, and none of your other friends are interested? I hope there is a kind person or persons out there who might have some advice to help get me back on track. Thanks.


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

I can't offer much advice besides "I've been there". I've been playing about as long as you and have the same frustrations from time to time.

As far as being able to play a complete song for someone, it's harder than it sounds! If you happen to be a good singer, and have figured out how to play while singing, or if you have a volunteer handy to sing with you - then G, C, D and a solid strum will let you play a hundred songs. On the other hand, if it's just you and a guitar, nobody wants to hear G, C, D over and over...

If I wanted to show off a song to somebody, I could either play the first half of "Sleepwalk" by Brian Setzer and say "umm, that's all I know", or play "Under the Bridge" by RHCP, which sounds cool but is pretty boring without the vocals. And I haven't figured out the last bit yet. Or lots of other songs that are just chords. So I know exactly how you feel.

Also, playing in front of others is HARD. It's taken me forever to be able to play in front of my TEACHER, let alone my friends. I figure about 3/4 of my ability goes out the window when I'm in front of someone. So eventually, when I get to Satriani levels of ability, I'll be able to play Bob Dylan songs in front of an audience. :D

My only advice: practice every day. I do at least half an hour a day without fail. Some days it's a half an hour of grumpy practice where I play the same three chords over and over, other days it's much better. But every day I make at least a little bit of progress, and that feels good.

Hopefully others will have lots of advice for you here, and I'll be listening too. Good luck!


   
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Raistx
(@raistx)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 78
 

Hi Robbie,

I know how you feel. Try discussing it with your teacher if you feel comfortable enough. Maybe he can address your issues about the material your learning and introduce you to other students of his that you can jam with. I definitely have the same nervousness as you with performing infront of others. I have been looking for a new guitar and trying then out in the stores is a nightmare for me, feel really uncomfortable, everything that I play well at home sounds like rubbish, missing strings, fretting is all over the place. I don't know how to fix this yet but I'm sure others will make a few suggestions.

As far as staying motivated, sometimes it may be a good idea to have a rest from the guitar for a week or two. For me I still pick it up and noodle for about 15 mins a day, because last time I didn't play for 2 weeks because I felt burnt out, I didn't get back to it for 3 months!
Another thing is go down to the pub and watch a band. Sit somewhere where you can see what the guitarist is doing, have a couple of beers and try to work out what he is doing.
Last tip. Put new strings on your guitar. I always feel like playing more just after I change strings. Something about the ring of brand new shiny strings just sounds awesome.

Good luck dude.


   
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Robbieboy
(@robbieboy)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 19
Topic starter  

Thanks, mmoncur...I appreciate the empathy, and I enjoyed your Joe Satriani/Bob Dylan gag. :)

And thanks for the encouragement, Raistx.


   
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rparker
(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

I'd 2nd the notion about discussing with your instructor. Perhaps you two should pick out a song together that you are to learn from beginning to end so that you two can get to something new as well as complete a short term goal.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Ricochet
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

As far as being able to play a complete song for someone, it's harder than it sounds! If you happen to be a good singer, and have figured out how to play while singing, or if you have a volunteer handy to sing with you - then G, C, D and a solid strum will let you play a hundred songs. On the other hand, if it's just you and a guitar, nobody wants to hear G, C, D over and over...
It's also a fact that no matter how well you play it, few people will want to hear you just play a guitar. Learn to sing with it and you'll get much further, even if you can't play much. Guitar's an accompaniment instrument. Screaming guitar solos from "guitar heroes" are nice embellishments on a song that are nice to have, but sound stupid by themselves and the songs usually work well without them. It's not all about the guitar.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

yes. we all go through this. it returns on a regular basis so learn to play through the 'disheartened' or Platteau you are experiencing. do take the time to learn a song. that exercise will take you far. hang in there.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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wmwilson01
(@wmwilson01)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
 

I've been going through this recently too. I've been taking lessons for about 6 months and have recently decided that I think I'm actually getting worse with every week. I determined, maybe properly, maybe not, that my practice routine was my great failure. I would take my lessons once a week and then often wait until the weekend to try to jam a couple of hours worth of practice in. I'd try to practice the songs from my lesson, but that would only last 15 minutes before I was bored with them -- even if I hadn't yet mastered them -- and I'd move on to playing around with some chord progressions that I found personally interesting. So, when I finally concluded that I felt like my progress had halted I put together a solid hour long practice routine that I'm determined to do every night. The first 10 minutes are devoted to finger exercises and just moving around from note to note in the first 3 frets to burn their location into my brain. The second 10 minutes are spent practicing chords -- slow, thoughtful practice of each followed by something more towards speed changes (not that I'm anywhere close to quick). That's followed by 30 minutes of playing any songs that were assigned to me in my lesson. The last 15 minutes is for playing with fingerstyle and "real" songs that I'm trying to learn -- it's last so that I can feel ok about getting carried away and spending more time on it. Ultimately, I just feel that it's important for me that I stick with this and work through the frustrations. I think little vacations can sometimes be the most helpful of anything you can do, but I don't think that was my particular problem. I've been on my new plan for a few weeks now, and I really think it's paying off. My playing is getting better and I feel more confident during my lessons. Do you feel like you're really putting a fair amount of effort into it every week, or do you feel like you're just trying to play around from day to day with the hopes that a year from now you'll be fantastic?


   
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MrWisker
(@mrwisker)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 6
 

I have gone through this a few times with guitar teachers (I am on my third) and this time I have set the structure of how the lessons will go. I found a good lessons book and with the help of the teacher have been going through the lessons, which includes the exercises and songs. This way I know what I am getting and I am learning the style of guitar I am interested in playing.

So far I have gone through Fingerstyle Guitar by Mark Hanson and am currently working through The Art of Solo Fingerpicking by Mark Hanson.

Even then I get stuck on certain sections (as certain fingerings and styles may take a month or more to master) and I ask the teacher to go over other areas of the guitar I am interested in.

So my recommendation is to try and take control of your lessons and set a goal. Also state that it is impprtant to not only learn technnique but to also learn songs. Oh and learning technique through songs is fantastic.

Hope this helps.


   
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Minotaur
(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1089
 

I'm going through this right now. It's a combination of plain boredom with what I'm working on, feeling I've accomplished nothing after almost a year (the worst part!), and personal goings-on.

It got to the point that I packed everything up... books in a box; guitars in their cases; stands and all my other accoutrements in the closet. I didn't want them out anymore, nor look at them knowing I was getting nowhere, and having them remind me that I was a only legend in my own mind. I couldn't stand the thought that people might be thinking "Ha! and he thinks he's good! What a tool!"

But later in the day I grudgingly took them out again, and set everthing in its place. I'll practice and play tonight.

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


   
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clideguitar
(@clideguitar)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 375
 

Just before Christmas my Mum and Dad came over to visit and I tried to play something in front of them. Well, I just fell to pieces and my hands were shaking like a leaf. This made me even more disheartened about my efforts and really it has only been in the last one or two days that I have done a little practice.

This happened to me the first time I played at a Bar. I was disillusioned also because I practised so hard! However, I was playing with 2 other people so no one really noticed!

No that I've done it oh, 25 times, there's nothing to it! It's a blast!

Like practice, just keep doing it!

Bob Jessie


   
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Minotaur
(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1089
 

I used to flub in front of my teacher weekly. He'd chuckle and say "hey man, everyone does it". I can't play anything in front of anyone yet either. I guess it just has to come when it comes.

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


   
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rparker
(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

I can play decently until I try to record myself. Then it all goes to heck.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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boxboy
(@boxboy)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1221
 

Hi, Robbie,

Great advice so far.
I don't know from the teacher/student dynamic (I've never had a teacher), but re:

'Just before Christmas my Mum and Dad came over to visit and I tried to play something in front of them. Well, I just fell to pieces and my hands were shaking like a leaf. This made me even more disheartened about my efforts and really it has only been in the last one or two days that I have done a little practice. '

Believe me, that's a surmountable problem. The solution for me lay in doing it as often as possible and making it less formal.

If friends or family drop by for a casual conversation and your guitar's nearby, pick it up, strum it, keep the conversation going...and in no time someone says, 'What is that riff? I like that song!'.

All the best. :)

Don


   
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BmanCV-60
(@bmancv-60)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 135
 

I felt this when my teacher asked me to play a song he had tabbed out earlier in my lessons last year. Of course I bombed, and he was very understanding and encouraging but it seemed like I'd forgotten everything we'd gone over. The final straw was forgetting chord formations; when he started writing out things he'd done before I knew I had to change something. I got so caught up in trying to learn something new every week I'd neglect to go over previous material. Now I use a fretboard trainer (Fretboard Warrior) at work during breaks. For my nightly practice I devote the first 30 minutes to scales and chords, the next 15 minutes to songs we've worked on and the last 15 minutes on whatever I want to try. Next tthing you know 2 hours have gone by... :)

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"


   
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