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The Bad Thing About Being Self Taught

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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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One of the bad things about being self taught is that you hit a plateau and tend to stay there for a long time. At least this has been my experience. Although I've gotten much better at things, my musical vocabulary has not grown much in the past year. I've seen improvement in my ability to play songs that challenged me a short time ago. By learning/playing scales, I've gained better speed/dexterity and I'm learning to solo. That in and of itself is very satisfying because I thought I'd never get there.

However, I feel like I'm stuck. I've hit a plateau and I'm having a hard time moving. I recently wrote a basic song on the piano. I'm trying to put a melody over it and I'm having a real difficult time. I know the reason is because I've not yet learned how to be imaginative in creating phrases. This is limited by my lack of vocabulary.

I'm not looking to put 5 or 6 licks together. The problem is I've got things I want to say (on the guitar) but I can't form the words yet. I'm struggling with it and its getting frustrating.

For laughs, I'll ask the silly question- Anyone else go/going through this?

What's more frustrating is that I know if I had a teacher, I'd be further along. But that's not an option right now. Arggghhh

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5134
 

If a teacher isn't an option now, what about finding some other folks to play with? You'll learn a lot from playing in a band, whether it's a formal group or just folks getting together to jam a bit.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


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(@rahul)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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If a teacher isn't an option now, what about finding some other folks to play with? You'll learn a lot from playing in a band, whether it's a formal group or just folks getting together to jam a bit.

Best advice you could get. Period.


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(@dagwood)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1029
 

Yep... I can relate.

I've been there, got out of it and went back there again.

There's two things I go through.

Learning someone else's song(s) - simply because I love the song and want to know how to play it.

Second- is wanting to get the music in my head out to create, enjoy and share.

I constantly ask myself, where is my guitar playing going? If anywhere?
Do I want it to go anywhere? Do I want to be in a band and perform? Do I want to rise up and become a recording artist? Or do I just want to be a hobbyist and enjoy for myself and those around me?

I guess it all comes down to goals.

I don't necessarily have aspirations of being a rock-star, sure I dream, but reality is it probably won't happen. However I wouldn't mind being in a band, even if that means getting together with some friends and playing once a week, or playing in my church band and I do enjoy an occasional open mic and getting up and playing with others.

So.. what is one to do? To play well with others, I'm learning one needs to, or should learn as many songs as they can. Listen to the music others are playing and learn those songs. If you have a band or a group of friends that play...jamming is also great and I love to just jam...not necessarily playing a 'song' for the 'songs' sake....y'know?

To write my own music.. this much I know its a lot of hard work. My instructor suggested to hum the tunes in my head and then play what I'm humming, (which takes a certain amount of proficiency with the instrument - again something that takes time to achieve).

Either way it is a lot of work, mainly to get to that level of proficiency and once there, things do get easier, as your discovering and your skills with keep growing as long as you keep playing. I've been finding songs that were once a challenge aren't so tough anymore...."Thank God". However I am still challenged and for me that's part of the fun.

I'm starting to ramble but.. hard work and determination I think are key but again, what are your goals?

For the longest time, even still to some extent. I didn't really have any. I 'just wanted to play.' But as I've gotten better I'm seeing that I can indeed set some realistic and achievable goals.

I'm to the point where I think my lessons are more about achieving those goals more so than the basics of playing...if that makes sense. I think as beginners we struggle to hard and long on the 'playing' part of the instrument and don't look at the larger picture, but as our skills progress we start to see how certain things once thought impossible are within our grasp. At which point..(where I am now) I ask myself, what do I want to do? Do I wanna find a band and be a player -or- do I want to stay a hobbiest and play only for myself and on occasion at an open mic? (shrug)

At the end of the day I feel this, I'll play guitar and will always own at least one till the day I die. Anything else beyond that is gravy. If i find a band and play great. If we get gigs, great. If I get asked to record great. If I only play around the house and sitting in my porch with a few friends great too. I'm happy with just 'being'.

sorry for the rambling...I'm in a 'talkative' mood today :)

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1705
Topic starter  

If a teacher isn't an option now, what about finding some other folks to play with? You'll learn a lot from playing in a band, whether it's a formal group or just folks getting together to jam a bit.
Certainly true. I've given that alot of thought. Not sure that's an option for me right now. (too much going on at the moment) While I do jam occasionally with friends, it's not often enough for me to gain anything much out of it.

I know once I get fed up enough I'll make the necesary changes in my life and join a band or an informal weekly jam. Its the next logical step.

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I was in a rut like that a while back - yes, I was playing guitar a lot, and writing songs, but they all sounded the same. Then I googled online guitar lessons.....

I know what you mean about lack of musical vocabulary - everything was either a I - IV - V progression, or variations on G - Em - C and D. The lessons helped here - seeing how different progressions were constructed, but more importantly WHY. I'm a rhythm guitarist by nature - I'll never be a shredder. But learning a few basic scales got me into playing a little lead, as well.

I decided - back when I discovered GN - to concentrate mostly on chords - how they're constructed, what they all do, etc. An early insight came when Wes Inman posted a tab for "All Right Now" - I'd wanted to play that song for years. Hey, that's a weird way to play a G chord, I thought - there's more than one way? (Actually, I later found out it was a G6 chord, but that's immaterial for now.) That lead me into chord voicings - different ways to play the same chord. Then chord substitutions - found a good article by Noteboat on those. And I'm still learning! A couple of weeks back I was putting some music to lyrics - needed a chord to get me from G6, played 355030, to Amaj7, played x02120. I accidentally put the Amaj7 chord on at the wrong fret and played x03230....sounded good so I tried it again and ended up keeping it in. Worked out what I was playing was a Dm(add9) - not a chord I've ever used before.

So I think I've got out of that rut now - at least, everything doesn't sound exactly the same. I'm experimenting a lot more with chords - trying them with open strings and so on.

I suppose the next thing I should do is improve my lead playing - in all honesty, though, I'm happiest playing rhythm. But whereas I used to be happy playing simple progressions, that just doesn't do it for me any more - it has to be interesting!

Perhaps that's the cause of the plateau - playing the same things over and over again? Maybe look at some ways to spice up your playing. If a song's all open chords, try playing it as barre chords. Try using add9ths instead of major chords, or min7ths and min9ths instead of minor chords.

There's a whole world full of new guitar experiences out there - I've only just started scratching the surface, even though I've been playing for what seems like forever. It's only the last couple of years, though, I actually think to myself, "Hey I can play guitar a bit!" Then of course, I have to pick one up and play it, just to prove it to myself of course.....

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@kevin72790)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 840
 

Perhaps that's the cause of the plateau - playing the same things over and over again? Maybe look at some ways to spice up your playing. If a song's all open chords, try playing it as barre chords. Try using add9ths instead of major chords, or min7ths and min9ths instead of minor chords.
Great advice here. That's what I've been doing lately...and I've been naturally finding great variations on chords and sounds on songs I often listen too.

Not only that it'll help you learn where all the notes on the fretboard are.


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

...At the end of the day I feel this, I'll play guitar and will always own at least one till the day I die. Anything else beyond that is gravy. If i find a band and play great. If we get gigs, great. If I get asked to record great. If I only play around the house and sitting in my porch with a few friends great too. I'm happy with just 'being'.

No doubt feel the same way. And I really do enjoy learning new songs. I think at the end of the day I want to make my own music. I get much more enjoyment out of that. Which leads to the frustration.
... I'll never be a shredder. But learning a few basic scales got me into playing a little lead, as well.
Vic

Know how you feel. My goal is not to become a shredder. That's for the yougins. However, I'd like to be able to get from point A to point B as I hear it in my head. And I can't right now because of my lack of vocabulary. What's frustrating is that I'm trying to come up with something over a very simple rhythm. ANd I'm having a hard time.

I think part of my problem is that I do not have a direction right now. Last year I had a goal. Now that I've reached that goal, I need to put another stake in the ground and march in that direction.

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

The worst thing about being self taught is the teacher. I already know everything he does.

At least his rates are reasonable.


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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

Hmmm... don't know if I would agree a teacher and lessons would help. A teacher and lessons can help you become a better technical player, but it will not improve your creativity necessarily. For creativity I think you just have to expose yourself to lots of diverse musical styles.

I mean, if you are a Metal player and all you listen to is Metal, that is probably all you are going to come up with creatively. But listen to some Country or Jazz and apply it to your playing and suddenly you are going to start sounding much different.

I do think learning to sight read will help your creativity, simply because you will be able to play any piece of music in front of you, exposing you to new and fresh styles.

I would start listening to new styles of music. I know I always get ideas when I do this.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

The worst thing about being self taught is the teacher. I already know everything he does.

If you think about it, in some strange twisted way....THAT"S the exactl problem I'm having. You see? There's a reason you are a guitar god!!! 8)

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@blueline)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

...I would start listening to new styles of music. I know I always get ideas when I do this.

I whole heartedly agree with that theory. It's just that, I already listen to a very wide variety. More than you can imagine. I do think that your sight reading suggesiton would definately help though. In order to speak the language you have to know how to read it. This way you can increase your vocab!!! 8)

Teamwork- A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.


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(@dogbite)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

you may not be as stuck as you feel. for instance, you wrote that you can sense or hear or feel a part you want to play but cannot...yet.
that is half the battle; having a thought. I think visualization can go a long way.
however, I do know what you mean and do understand what you feel.

you will encounter many more plateaus. I have gone through many. sometiomes there is an exultant jump to the next level. most times there is the subtle discovery. one day you will merely begin playing like you never have before. that is the best.

lastly, I think your goals are in place. it can be just a matter of time before your 'leap'. to beat the impatience and frustration
you can find inspiration by learning a new song by someone you admire, buy a new ax (short lived and guilt ridden method..expensive and fun) or practice and jam with others. the later is the tried and true method.

maybe take in a show, a band, a museum? many times I am inspirased by good art to go and make my own.

bottom line...one day you will look back and smile.

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


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(@ballybiker)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 494
 

bottom line...one day you will look back and smile.

well put.....looking back can sometimes kick start the way forward

i'd go back to check all my previous posts on here...but i know there is no need as each and every question i have posted,has in turn been asked by many a newbie (and will again)

so feel inspired and confident in the knowledge that YOU are now good enough to answer these questions 8)

what did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?....

Drool

http://www.myspace.com/ballybiker


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(@bluezoldy)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 330
 

...I do think that your sight reading suggesiton would definately help though. In order to speak the language you have to know how to read it. This way you can increase your vocab!!! 8)

My ex-teacher didn't teach theory and used tab only. In the last couple of weeks I've started studying standard notation on my own and I'm finding a whole new world is opening up and things I didn't understand before are becoming much clearer.

♪♫ Ron ♪♫

http://www.myspace.com/bluemountainsblues


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