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-   -   Was it easier to learn in the "old days"? (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/t177508/)

gtrdave 05-28-2009 07:00 AM

Was it easier to learn in the "old days"?
 
Inspired by some of Kentl's threads and others like them, I have been pondering the idea that we exist in an environment of information overload and while faster access to more info may seem like a good thing on paper, in reality it seems as if the person seeking information may spend more time trying to acquire that info from a multitude of resources and thereby cause more confusion in their brain than before they even started their search.

For example, back in the day (late '70s/early '80s) a guitarist had a few options to learning how to play:
recorded media - tapes, albums, tv...but beware of lip-syncing
a concert - live sound quality plays a part in how much one can pick-up
a teacher - private or school
a magazine - Guitar Player and ?
a book - several theory books, pick one or many

I used all of the above to help inspire and educate me, but I never felt overwhelmed by those resources.

Today we have all of the above in abundance, plus alternative forms of media and the not-so-new option of teh intarweb. One would think that the additional access to more info would make it easier to learn and for some this may well be true, but I've witnessed some of my students and some of the kids at church as well as other folks on web forums who just seem baffled by the amount of information, so much so that they seem to spend a lot of time searching, talking and asking questions, but not so much time actually learning and playing the guitar.

I don't know. Do you think that there's some validity to what I'm seeing? What is your opinion or experience with any of this?

1/2-Fast Player 05-28-2009 07:34 AM

Depends on the learner.

For an adult, who is used to seeking out info and sifting through stuff, I think it's much easier to learn guitar now. I know it is for me.

For a young kid, like a 10-year-old student, the web may lead to information overload and paralysis.

If I'm correct, this would indicate that a teacher is more important for the younger student. A teacher can filter the info and direct the learning.

Much early education is really teaching the learner to teach himself. A more experienced person is therefore better equipped to make effective and efficient use of the plethora of information available these days.

tenwatt 05-28-2009 07:51 AM

I think ONE of the problems is in some new styles. For example, take a look at bands similar to Zao, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, etc. If bands like this are the first type of music that really attracts you to listen, and that's mostly all you're listening to (and therefore all you want to learn), what most guitarist learn as the basics gets abandoned. People want to fly into tuning there guitar down, learning finger tapping and sweep arpeggios.

Don't get me wrong, I listen to some metal/hardcore regularly and I have no objection to learning those styles of music. I just believe that if that's ALL you're trying to play it can ruin your ability to be a well rounded musician.

I believe that power chord driven punk/pop/alternative rock has been a stumbling block too.

crazymoose 05-28-2009 08:06 AM

Going off the metal thing, I think today guitar players see those metal guitar players that play ridiculously fast, they then become players who can play ridiculously fast but have next to no creativity. These are the people who sit in their bedrooms all day and post videos on youtube of them sweep picking, but if you ask them to do anything that's not really really fast, they either do bad or it has no emotion. And usually they can't improv anything other than sweep picks and fast double picking stuff which is usually just running up and down the major or minor scale. And then there's the other side that see pop music, and don't feel the need to learn anything but power chords and the open chords for soft songs. Maybe an occasional easy solo here or there. Usually they flatten off at "meh" level cause they think they don't need to learn any more.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good music today with good guitar players, but I see so many people fall into those two categories.

Forged by Fire 05-28-2009 09:38 AM

Yes there are alot of guitar resources today but I dont think thats the heart of the problem. I think its more that young guitarist are exposed to everybody and there mom's opinion on the internet and media about how you should and what you should learn. Many of them declare there way is the best way. I often hear crazy statements like "if you dont learn the blues first your never going to be a good guitar player" or "if you dont know sweeps you suck" or "shredding has no emotion", or "you have to learn the classics first" or there's no feeling if you dont bend strings every other note" or, "jazz is for eggheads" and just on and on ect. ect. ect. Ive seen young guitarist even get abused with thread wars where internet tards argue about speed vs feel in the thread where the learner asked a simple question and both of those camps are totally wrong and playing tug of war with the learner. Its just really sad. So young guitar players have to wade through a mindfield of closed minded guitarist and there self important technique and genre opinions to find some sort of direction, so its no wonder there crazy confused.

gtrdave 05-28-2009 09:43 AM

Thanks for the replies.
One other thing that I've witnessed over the years as a teacher/player is that a lot of beginning players see and/or hear what their 'idols' are doing and think that it's a piece of cake to do themselves, not realizing the amount of time, effort and sacrifice that is required to play even a simple strumming pattern in-time.
People get the impression that they should just be able to pick up a guitar and play and, contrary what some song lyrics that infer as much, it's just not true.
It takes years of hours-a-day work and discipline.
More information won't necessarily change that.

1/2-Fast Player 05-28-2009 09:50 AM

> It takes years of hours-a-day work and discipline.
> More information won't necessarily change that.

Absolutely! Some things, thankfully, never change.

I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it 'till my fingers bled
Was the summer of 69

MJ_Avalanche 05-28-2009 09:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gtrdave (Post 3414949)
One other thing that I've witnessed over the years as a teacher/player is that a lot of beginning players see and/or hear what their 'idols' are doing and think that it's a piece of cake to do themselves, not realizing the amount of time, effort and sacrifice that is required to play even a simple strumming pattern in-time.
People get the impression that they should just be able to pick up a guitar and play and, contrary what some song lyrics that infer as much, it's just not true.
It takes years of hours-a-day work and discipline.
More information won't necessarily change that.

I can't echo enough how true this is. Teaching over this past year, I can't tell you how many students I've had to teach (and keep teaching) that just refuse to grasp the idea that it takes many many hours to play (well) the kinds of things they listen to. Dragonforce, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and so on. They just want to jump right in for straight for "Through the Fire and Flames" but skip right past playing a major scale with quarter notes, or even spending time to develop good pick technique!

I think the "Guitar Hero" syndrome (at least around here) is a big thing to blame for the lack of drive to learn the guitar, rather than the latest fast, speedpicking song.

1/2-Fast Player 05-28-2009 10:46 AM

Has that really changed all that much over the years? When I was a kid, beginners seemed only interested in banging out the double-stops for "Smoke On the Water" or the like. Not too many were willing to learn to read music or to learn scales.

It's a self-correcting situation, though. There will always be a few who will get it, and will earn their finger callouses and become good players. Those who don't put in the hours will be left behind, become discouraged, and quit for other pursuits.

For any musical instrument, only a small percentage of people stick with it. This has always been the case.

mulletman 05-28-2009 11:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by guyskankrye (Post 3414934)
I think ONE of the problems is in some new styles. For example, take a look at bands similar to Zao, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, etc. If bands like this are the first type of music that really attracts you to listen, and that's mostly all you're listening to (and therefore all you want to learn), what most guitarist learn as the basics gets abandoned. People want to fly into tuning there guitar down, learning finger tapping and sweep arpeggios.

Don't get me wrong, I listen to some metal/hardcore regularly and I have no objection to learning those styles of music. I just believe that if that's ALL you're trying to play it can ruin your ability to be a well rounded musician.

I believe that power chord driven punk/pop/alternative rock has been a stumbling block too.

Eh, maybe. I'd say that if someone focuses too much on ANY genre, they lose at being a well-rounded musician. If you're referring to strictly metalcore, I might believe you. But metal itself is massively diverse. Sabbath doesn't sound like Slayer, who doesn't sound like Petrucci.

As far as if it's harder to learn now, I think the answer to that is no. I'd say that most guitar resources online are user-friendly enough to make that not a problem. That, and the fact that if I wanted a teacher, about 5 minutes of searching the internet would give me a list of local teachers...

To be honest, I think people are lazier now.

AudioAUnderdog 05-28-2009 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by guyskankrye (Post 3414934)
I believe that power chord driven punk/pop/alternative rock has been a stumbling block too.

Actually, that's the kind of music I listened to that got me into guitar. I taught myself power chord songs because they're easy. I had a blast, and it sucked me into playing guitar and devoting more time to it than anything else I'd ever done. Later, my Dad and my guitar teacher introduced me to different styles that I probably would never have given a chance on my own.
I listen to more blues and jazz now, or anything else with a good guitar part including metal. So in a way it was that punk/pop/alternative/grunge stuff that got me into guitar, and guitar that got me to listen to musical styles I thought I'd hate but ended up loving.

And the abundance of information actually helped me too, when I was starting to teach myself. At first I'd just get the fingerings of chords off the internet as well as the chord sheets and tabs for any and every song I thought I could play, from "Three Blind Mice" to Demon Hunter. I also had a few good guitar books that taught me everything from basic theory to what different amps sounded like and why. Plus I had this website and these forums to ask questions on. I joined a month after I picked up guitar with the intention to learn it.

Of course, I had started to learn to play "real guitar" before Guitar Hero was invented, so I can't say how that game would have effected me. I think it's overall a good thing, since it introduces kids to guitar based music they may not have listened to otherwise and a few actually are learning to play real guitar and are dedicated to it because they liked Guitar Hero so much.
There will always be the losers who think that because they beat Guitar Hero that they'd actually be able to play guitar, but I think they're the minority.

1/2-Fast Player 05-28-2009 12:48 PM

Mullet wrote:
> To be honest, I think people are lazier now.

LOL! Every generation thinks the younger generation is lazy. Maybe it's because each older generation has worked so hard to raise the generation coming after it.

OTOH, maybe laziness gets a bad rap. Would we have dishwashers if we weren't too lazy to wash dishes by hand? Would we have learned to ride horses if we weren't too lazy to walk? Would we have cars if we weren't too lazy to ride and care for horses? Would we have chainsaws if we weren't too lazy to swing an axe? Would we have calculators if we weren't too lazy to do long division?

One could argue that laziness is the cause of most progress. :)

tenwatt 05-28-2009 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AudioAUnderdog (Post 3414995)
Actually, that's the kind of music I listened to that got me into guitar. I taught myself power chord songs because they're easy.

Yeah, that's pretty much where I got STARTED too. It's just that most of the kids that I'm teaching (unteaching for the most part) get stuck there. They feel that's all there is to know. It's funny too that the other day a kid I was teaching starts playing some Nirvanna song. It sounded fine as he played it. It was our first lesson together so when I came in the room I said "Okay, let's see what you know...let's play a simple G, C, D progression." I expected him to pound out some power chords but he just stared at me...I said "Okay, just play me a G chord." More staring. I showed him a standard G chord. He said "Man, that looks kinda hard." I made a G power chord he says "Oh...I know that one!"
Quote:

Originally Posted by 1/2-Fast Player (Post 3415002)
Would we have calculators if we weren't too lazy to do long division?

I'm math retarded with out my calculator!

mulletman 05-28-2009 01:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1/2-Fast Player (Post 3415002)
Mullet wrote:
> To be honest, I think people are lazier now.

LOL! Every generation thinks the younger generation is lazy. Maybe it's because each older generation has worked so hard to raise the generation coming after it.

OTOH, maybe laziness gets a bad rap. Would we have dishwashers if we weren't too lazy to wash dishes by hand? Would we have learned to ride horses if we weren't too lazy to walk? Would we have cars if we weren't too lazy to ride and care for horses? Would we have chainsaws if we weren't too lazy to swing an axe? Would we have calculators if we weren't too lazy to do long division?

One could argue that laziness is the cause of most progress. :)

Meh. I'm a part of the younger generation, and I think we're lazy. And I think the logic that laziness results in invention is flawed...

;)

Major Tom 05-28-2009 01:13 PM

Good thread Dave!

I think there are many many tools now that should make it easier. I do think that there have been some shifts in attitude thru the last 3 or 4 decades to all of us, including us "seniors" (yeah, I threw up in my throat a little using that term for myself) that may be counterproductive.

We want it now! Instant info on the net, same day delivery, drive thru windows, cell phones, 24/7 service, you name it, I think this may have caused us to have less patience in general, which could certainly affect our willingness to invest time in learning guitar.

Everything is disposable - cheap goods have made it economically impractical to repair things, not to mention that the rapid advance of technology accelerates obsolescence. "Hard goods" are disposable - if it doesn't work throw it away now, get something new, now. I think that attitude may affect how we think about many things...

World of entertainment choices - so much more to do these days, from the comfort of your own chair. The more time you spend playing games on your PS, or on-line, net surfing, texting, watching DVD's, etc., the less time, and probably mental capacity is left over for learning your ax. Just for illustration to you younger players - back in "my day" - no computer, no cell phone, no video or electronic games, no DVD movies... Entertainment choices were very limited - TV pretty much sucked; 3 networx - daytime TV = soap operas, old, really old movies on the weekends. Evening = a few watchable shows here and there, but not much worthwhile. Bottom line, as a teenager, playing guitar was my primary entertainment.

World of info - you can find instructional vids on youtube, etc. on how to play things in general, specific songs, etc. get specific questions answered on forums, you name it. In the old days, to a great extent you had to figure things out by yourself, or give up. As far as how that actually changes things, I think it might be that in days of yore, a larger % of would be players may have given up - one might say that the process of learning at that time "separated the men from the boys" (an expression, I'm not excluding the ladies) to a greater degree than what happens now. For example, if I hit a stumbling block today trying to figure out a song, I can get specific help to get past it - there is a degree of handholding accessible to you 24/7.

Disclaimer - I'm not saying the "old days" were better or worse. I do think we are a slightly different culture with different attitudes and habits, and that those things have probably changed our ability, desire and whatever to learn guitar. I will say though that I believe that some things have not changed - talent, desire, and effort are still necessary to get dangerous on guitar; no one is going to do it for you.


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