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Unread 03-11-2013, 08:44 AM   #1
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Need Help Progressing.......kinda lost

*warning: long winded post ahead-skip to the end if you just want the gist of it*

So I’ve been playing off and on for a decent amount of time (15-ish yrs) and I feel like I’m just in a rut and not progressing like I want. I feel like I know a lot of broken pieces to the puzzle but I just don’t “have it down” yet. I’m nowhere near where I should be or where I want to be.

Here’s my backstory:
I picked up my first guitar when I was like 12-14 (?) and strummed a few chords and kinda fizzled out on it. Sold the guitar/amp and moved on.

Later (17-ish range) I pick it up again with the determination to be able to play at least something. I picked up a beginner book to learn some basics and learned enough chords and what not to make something that sounded like music (somewhat ). During this time I played for a while in the youth group “band” for the church I was attending at the time. I learned a bit about playing with a group and developed my rythym but the songs were so simplistic I don’t feel like I “grew” much at all during that time.

After that I got married, moved out of my parents’ house and guitar kind of became second to just living and working on a new life with my lovely new wife. I still picked on it from time to time but I no longer played at church (we had since left our church and started attending another where there seemed to be no real place for me to play). My progress over these 5-10 years was SLOW to nonexistent.

Here in the last 5 years or so I’ve picked it up a little more intensive and have tried to further my ability and I just been feeling like God has been “telling me things”:
-I love music. Even when I didn’t really play I would have music playing all the time. I love hearing the interaction between instruments and I LOVE hearing a skilled musician play their heart out.
-during worship time I found myself not singing the words but “playing” the chords in my head. It was weird; it wasn’t a distracted “daydreaming” kind of thing it was worship from my inner-most. It’s like, my heart doesn’t “sing” to God, it “makes music” to him.
I believe God was (is) telling me that my place in the body of worshippers is playing an instrument.
-Our church made the decision to split the morning services into a “traditional” and more rockin’ “modern” service. Now all of a sudden there was the potential for squeezing into a worship team that played a style I was more enthusiastic about.

I spoke to my wife about this and she, in her infinite boldness (NOT my strongest trait!), walks right up to the worship leader and tells him “My husband plays guitar”.
I expected a “we’ll see what we can do” or “maybe we can work him in eventually” but instead he just beams like we had just told him he won the lottery. The service was new and the group was still small so he, unbeknownst to us, was praying for more musicians.

So, I join in on a few practices to “play along” and see if I can do this. After every practice Joel (or worship leader) would say “so, you gonna play on Sun?”. Like I said, boldness is not my strong suit so I just kept on showing up for practice but not playing on Sun. morning. After a month or so of practice, I finally went for it. Even though I felt like I did a mediocre job (at best) it was awesome. I’ve been enjoying it for probably 2 years now. During this time I felt like I’ve made more progress than in the 10 years prior. My “Chord vocabulary” has increased tremendously, I feel confident in my rhythm and ability to “mesh” with a group, and I’ve learned some basic theory.

However, it all feels like “broken pieces”; not a full understanding of how to play. I’ve never taken lessons and have never received instructions or any sort. I am 100% self-taught and I believe this is the root of my problem. I’ve taught myself what I needed to get by but there’s never been any sort of structure to it. I’ll learn a bit here and a piece there but I feel like I’m still missing the big picture.
I just need some advice on how to organize this jumbled up information I have and how to further my playing ability. I just need to know where to start, what order to learn in, whether I should pursue professional instruction, some websites or resources that would be helpful; anything.

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Unread 03-11-2013, 09:23 AM   #2
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Wow - you were long winded! But, I'm actually a Fan of longer e-mails for the most part. They get more of the Full Message out.

1st of all - God has given you the Gift of Music. It is Deep Inside you. This is why you've put it down, but, with in a short amount of time picked it back up many times. Because, it's part of who you are.

It's Great that you are able to play with other Musicians on a Praise Team. That is where I was able to gain the 'Fastest Growth' as a Guitarist.

Maybe Lessons might be a Good Thing for you. Find a Local Instructor, Explain out where you are, Explain where you want to go & put together a Lesson Plan that you can stick with 'Long Term'. When I mention 'Long Term' - I'm talking Years.

Find an Instructor that you can get a Lesson every other week - 2 times a month. Take the time to Practice the New Information, this will allow you to get Really Good at the new technique before advancing to the next.

One of the issues that I've seen with some people & Guitar Lessons is - They don't take the time to do things properly. They start getting over whelmed with weekly lessons. Because, life still happens.

This is just my opinion - Doesn't mean it is what you need to do. It just means, this is what I'd do if I was in your situation. Best of Luck to you!
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Unread 03-11-2013, 10:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forgiven-Sinner View Post
Wow - you were long winded! But, I'm actually a Fan of longer e-mails for the most part. They get more of the Full Message out.

1st of all - God has given you the Gift of Music. It is Deep Inside you. This is why you've put it down, but, with in a short amount of time picked it back up many times. Because, it's part of who you are.

It's Great that you are able to play with other Musicians on a Praise Team. That is where I was able to gain the 'Fastest Growth' as a Guitarist.

Maybe Lessons might be a Good Thing for you. Find a Local Instructor, Explain out where you are, Explain where you want to go & put together a Lesson Plan that you can stick with 'Long Term'. When I mention 'Long Term' - I'm talking Years.

Find an Instructor that you can get a Lesson every other week - 2 times a month. Take the time to Practice the New Information, this will allow you to get Really Good at the new technique before advancing to the next.

One of the issues that I've seen with some people & Guitar Lessons is - They don't take the time to do things properly. They start getting over whelmed with weekly lessons. Because, life still happens.

This is just my opinion - Doesn't mean it is what you need to do. It just means, this is what I'd do if I was in your situation. Best of Luck to you!

I warned you.
I always try to develop my questions a bit more fully so I don't end up with something like "I want to play better, how do I do it?". The best way to get a meaningful answer is to give ask a good question backed with relavent information.

Anyways, I will probably look into lessons. Fortunately, I'm no longer "young and impatient" so I have no problem laying out a plan that may take several years. I just feel like I'm having trouble progressing any more on my own and that maybe I've glazed over some things that are vital to getting to where I want to be.
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Unread 03-11-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
Hey ya'll, watch this!
 
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I was once just like you. Self-taught and stuck.

My wife decided we should budget for lessons, since it was obvious at the time I was going to be leading worship for a while. So I sought out a teacher based on his reputation for being solid in theory, who required his students to read music, and who wanted his students to be musicians. Turns out he was also one of the hottest players around and very hard to get to know. After talking for a bit I signed on for his classes. These days we spend as much time on the piano as on the guitar. And my playing is so much more solid because of it.

You need to learn a few things...

1) The I, V, and IV of a key and all of that, you know, the mysterious Nashville Method.
2) Scales
3) How to arrange just a bit.
4) More scales
5) How to build your own chords
6) Even more scales
7) As much dexterity as you can muster.
8) How to read music at least a little bit.

What we are using is good ol' Mel Bay plus my teacher's own theory curriculum. That curriculum is not published because he's using me as his lab rat.

There are plenty of great players out there who don't read a lick of music and wouldn't know theory if it hit them with a 2x4. If you're not a great player, though, you'd better be able to bring something to the table. Lessons will help with that.
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Unread 03-12-2013, 08:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
1) The I, V, and IV of a key and all of that, you know, the mysterious Nashville Method.
2) Scales
3) How to arrange just a bit.
4) More scales
5) How to build your own chords
6) Even more scales
7) As much dexterity as you can muster.
8) How to read music at least a little bit.
All of this is good. Knowing the basics of chord progressions, chord triads, more advanced chord structure, melody and harmony all come from knowing scales and ultimately are all based on simple numbers and basic math.
Add in the human component, timing/tempo and technique development and you'll be a well rounded musician who knows what they're playing and (bonus) how to communicate with other musicians clearly.
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