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When a beginner is no longer a beginner

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 cnev
(@cnev)
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I was reading the newsletter from Guitar Principles and there was an interesting letter that someone wrote to Jamie asking him like many people do here when they can be considered an intermediate player. I won't go into the details of his response but in the end he had a short list of things that he considers a person to have mastered before they can move out of the beginner realm.

Here's the list. Besides his self promoting of his Principles I thought it was very interesting that he considers anyone who cannot sing and play at the same time a beginner.

Just thought it might be interesting.

1.) you understand how to practice to learn material smoothly without building in bad habits of tension,

2.) you can slowly and smoothly play The Foundation Exercises from "The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar", especially the walking exercises from The Principles, the basic finger patterns of 1-4, 1-3, and 1-2, with correct right hand functioning, whether using fingers or pick, with good tone and playing LOUDLY

3.)you can play, and smoothly change, the basic first position chords,

4.) you have developed a small repertoire, pieces or songs you can play all the way through,

5.) you can sing and play at the same time.

If you cannot do all these things, even if you have played for twenty years, you are a beginner.

So there you have it for all the beginners who have asked this question! Unfortunately this means I'm still a beginner because I can't play and sing at the same time, well some songs I kind of can.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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I was reading the newsletter from Guitar Principles and there was an interesting letter that someone wrote to Jamie asking him like many people do here when they can be considered an intermediate player.

5.) you can sing and play at the same time.

If you cannot do all these things, even if you have played for twenty years, you are a beginner.

I can play...and sing...at the same time...but most prefer I just play!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@denny)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 452
 

This might make a good 'sticky topic'.

Denny


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(@kroikey)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 232
 

Beginner, Intermediate, Expert, Virtuoso are all just categories we artificially place on things to try and describe them. Personally I believe its not one big hill we're climbing with sign posts on the way up. Its a multi-dimensional mountain, each with different heights.

I don't really care what people label me as, or whether a piece is for 'intermediate' or 'beginner', I'll play it if I know 80% of the chords, and I'll improve on the 20% I dont know. :)


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Maybe, Denny...maybe.

In all things...being successful at most anything you want to consider largely is up to you realising your strengths and weaknesses and, thereby, not being self-dilusional. Know when to hold 'em...and when to fold 'em.

I CANNOT sing. I mean...okay, I can get on tune and pretty much stay there but my "instrument" is gawd-awful! My studio stuff comes off well (which is probably 95% of my work) because of my own method of reference tracks. I put down single note references on...heck, maybe ten tracks...and then "play the faders" for at least twenty hours on average so as to construct the harmonies and the melody lines.

Next, I sing (my few parts) to them with absolutely nothing else in the headphone mix...as does everyone else on the project. Live, in days gone by, one of my biggest problems has always been "stealing the root" as I drift off the harmony note and end up back on the root. I don't know how many times I've had the lead singer glare at me in the middle of a set because of me stealing his notes.

Tough. Singing well is tough! But I draw the line where it was stated that you need to "sing AND play" in order to consider yourself "no longer a beginner". I'd like to see ANY singer play a guitar the way I can!

Know when to hold 'em...and when to fold 'em.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@simonsays)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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5.) you can sing and play at the same time.

If you cannot do all these things, even if you have played for twenty years, you are a beginner.

Dont ever recall hearing Paco de Lucia sing and play at the same time

Simon

There are too many songs that have an 'F' chord in them.


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(@notes_norton)
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There is no definite line between beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Music in general and every musical instrument is made up of a collection of skills.

Itzhak Perlman, one of the greatest violinists in the world cannot improvise over a simple jazz tune.

Erroll Garner, who wrote "Misty" and other great songs and was a respected jazz pianist couldn't read music (or so I read)

I've never heard Jimmy Page, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, and other great guitarists sing

I know a guy who is a great acoustic rhythm guitarist, he is incredible, knows multiple positions of every chord, instinctively knows what strumming/picking pattern to use that will compliment the song, but yet doesn't know how or want to know how to play even a simple pentatonic lead.

Personally, I think the quoted article may have been written with good intent, but it is B.S.

But what would I say to improve it?

I'm afraid all my attempts would be just as lame.

Is it when you know your scales? How to read music? All your basic chords (open string and movable)? When you can improvise a good solo? When you know basic music theory? --- Who knows.

I think to each musician, the answer is different.

For me ... I can sing and play, but that's not it ... I can play the chords out of a fake book with only rare referrals to the chord dictionary for uncommon chords, but that's not it ... I can improvise a decent solo in rock/country/blues songs, but that's not it ... I have the following scales memorized in multiple neck positions major/minor pentatonic, blues, major, and minor, but that's not it ... I can read music (sightread easy stuff and woodshed harder songs), but that's not it ... I know a good level of music theory, but that's not it ... For me, I became intermediate when I felt comfortable with the guitar in my hands.

Advanced? I cannot judge myself on that one because I realize that no matter how much I learn, there is always something new to learn, and that will lead to something else, and that will lead to something else -- and for me that is one of the things that keeps music interesting.

On the sax I feel advanced, only because the Florida Bandmasters Association voted me the best saxophone player in the state while I was in school. But years later I'm much better, I've learned much more, and I know there is a lot more to learn. So if I was advanced then, what am I now? More advanced?

On the guitar I feel good when other professional guitarists tell me that they think I am a good player, or that they like what I did on a particular song, but I know some other guitarists that could put me in their back pocket. But I really cannot judge my skills, like most of us, I am my worst critic. I figure I'm decent anyway. The other guys who tell me nice things hear what I know, but I know what I don't know and still need to improve.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that playing music isn't a competitive sport. The best player doesn't even always win ... mention Kenny G on a saxophone forum and most of the sax players, famous or unknown, will tell you that they play better than he does. And he is making a zillion bucks and is famous.

I don't think we need to compare ourselves with others anyway. There will always be someone who you think is better and someone who you think is worse than you. The idea is to simply improve your skill, go down your own journey to better music making, and let the audience decide if you are doing the right thing or not.

So when you feel comfortable with the guitar in your hands, you might want to think of yourself as an intermediate.

Insights and incites by Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Notes,

I agree pretty much with everything you've said although I think there is something in our human nature that we need to compare/rank things.

Music is one of those areas that everything doesn't fit into any specific organized fashion and there are so many variables that it really is close to impossible to put labels on your progress.

All you can do is keep trying to improve no matter what level you are at.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@unimogbert)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 174
 

I appreciate Andreas' writing and subscribe to the newsletter. The practice techniques have given me confidence in my learning and really improved my playing.

I think the target audience for that mailing was the teens who take up guitar for a wide variety of reasons and in many cases need calibration and reinforcement for their efforts. Some aren't willing to work to learn or are taking lessons because their parents want them to. Others worry about getting a "grade" so their progress relative to others is extremely important to them.

Guitar is an area where it's not obvious how to rate oneself. There are other hobbies/pursuits that have various rating systems ranging from handicap (golf), to Classification (racing of various kinds, competetive shooting), to license class (pilots, ham radio), and so on.

That's why my sig is what it is - I don't know how good I am. I just know that I have a ways to go on the journey

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Dont ever recall hearing Paco de Lucia sing and play at the same time
He does it! There are a lot of recordings in which you can hear him in the chorus and second voices!

But, Simon, I agree with you! :D


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(@trguitar)
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Food for thought .......... is there a difference between being a beginner and having beginner skills ....... between being an intermediate or having intermediate skills or advanced player or having advanced skills? :?

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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 Cat
(@cat)
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Dont ever recall hearing Paco de Lucia sing and play at the same time
Simon

Jeff Beck...

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@kent_eh)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

My definition:
You are no longer a beginner when someone asks you to teach them something (anything) about the guitar and you can do it.

in other news...
My brother now knows how to play an open G, C, and D.
I'm no longer a beginner.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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(@kachman)
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I think I asked the same question on this forum at some point. It's natural to want to know where you stand after playing for a while. However, when you get farther on, you realize that there's no real demarcation for beginner, intermediate, advanced, etc... It's very subjective to each individual and his/her goals.

Not only that, but individual perception changes as we progress in our learning. I started to question whether I was a beginner after I learded to change open chords pretty smoothly and sing some covers. Now I write my own songs, play chords however I want to, play barre chords, alternating bass lines and rhythm, and a bunch of other tricks; yet still I look ahead at some great players and think I'm still learning. I can't play acoustic lead lines like Tim Reynolds. So I'll call him an advanced player and put myself a good number of miles behind. Yet I've toured and recorded a couple of albums now and am doing my own thing with the guitar.

So really, it's about where you're trying to go with it. There are so many great players out there that it's so difficult to categorize things. I am glad to say though, that by Jamie's standards I have indeed passed the beginner stages :-)

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kachi2
http://www.kachilive.com

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


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(@bdkauff)
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I think an intermediate begins to feel truly comfortable with the guitar in his hands. An expert forgets he has anything in his hands...


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