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Question(s) for the ages

rickbarclay

Inspired
I have a lot confidence in my playing ability, but that confidence isn't translating satisfactorily to my fretboard.
The problem is this: when I pick up my guitar and start playing, I'm full of mistakes. The mistakes gradually
dissipate as I warm up, but that doesn't do any good for first-time playing, does it? What's even worse is that
as I get warmed up and play something to my satisfaction, if I switch to a new song, the mistake-prone process
renews itself all over again until I'm warmed up with that particular song.

I don't ever expect to be good enough to perform live under those conditions, and at this stage of my life, I don't
really care all that much. But I just find it soooo frustrating to have to start each and every song making too
many mistakes like that, and I was wondering if anyone here has overcome such a plight and what if anything
you did to correct or control your frustrations. Any suggestions are appreciated. I think my main problem is
simply paying attention to what I'm doing, which I find extremely difficult to do when it comes to music.

Thanks for any help.
 

chucma

Power User
Been there, got the t-shirt! I've struggled with the same thing for many years, and cure for me was a paradigm shift - I discovered this through a book recommended to me by a friend. Have a look for the book (it's an e-book on Amazon and might be paper back as well) called 'The Inner Game of Music' by Barry Green.

I literally only needed to read the first chapter, everything I needed was in there. He helps loads of pro musicians (and sports pros) with the same thing by getting them to stop thinking about the 'next note' or 'how it is sounding' i.e. things that distract you. Basically he teaches you to stop focussing, and instead you learn to enjoy and actually be in the moment. Because if you are not being distracted by all these other thoughts, then you relax into the song a lot better and let it happen more naturally.

I'm probably not explaining it as nearly as well as the book, it's definitely worth a read.

Anyway, I hope this helps, it did a lot for me.
 

NeoSound

Fractal Fanatic
I have a lot confidence in my playing ability, but that confidence isn't translating satisfactorily to my fretboard.
The problem is this: when I pick up my guitar and start playing, I'm full of mistakes. The mistakes gradually
dissipate as I warm up, but that doesn't do any good for first-time playing, does it? What's even worse is that
as I get warmed up and play something to my satisfaction, if I switch to a new song, the mistake-prone process
renews itself all over again until I'm warmed up with that particular song.

I don't ever expect to be good enough to perform live under those conditions, and at this stage of my life, I don't
really care all that much. But I just find it soooo frustrating to have to start each and every song making too
many mistakes like that, and I was wondering if anyone here has overcome such a plight and what if anything
you did to correct or control your frustrations. Any suggestions are appreciated. I think my main problem is
simply paying attention to what I'm doing, which I find extremely difficult to do when it comes to music.

Thanks for any help.
I've had similar issues at times, but I think mine is having the discipline to practice enough. When I play a lot everything becomes much more consistent and smooth, and when I don't play often I never know what will happen. I may pick up the guitar and play perfectly or stumble over every other note. Playing cleanly also improves a lot with more practice.
 

Geezerjohn

Fractal Fanatic
You can try doing some interval studies to train your ear and fingers at the same time. Pick a major scale and start on the 1st note. To stay on familiar territory play 1, 2, but sing along with it. Then play 2, 3 and sing along with it as well. Really try to hear the sound of a second interval. Work the entire scale. Then progress to major 3rds. Play 1, 3 and sing the interval. Work up the entire scale (1, 3, 2, 4, 3, 5, etc.). Then graduate to 4the. Play 1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6, etc. Rinse and repeat. Once you complete the scale then work the passing tones. Always sing the interval so you can hear it as you play. This eventually cuts down on the fishing expeditions, as the sound of various notes becomes familiar. Just my $0.02.
 

rickbarclay

Inspired
Intervals? I have charts showing the intervals for C through B. I have charts for all the major scales, the harmonic minor scale, and I'm presently working on a scale formula chart for the major modes and other variants. I can improvise boxes one and two of the harmonic minor scale fairly well. I know the pentatonic and major scales well enough. But when you get to something like Sweet Home Chicago, which mixes major and minor scales in a fixed 1-4-5 progression, then things get a little touchy.

If any of you have heard of Grif Hamlin, then you probably know he's put out some tutorials, including one called "Blues Gig in a Box,"
which is a set of blues songs which can be performed. One of them is 134 measures long and is based on "Sweet Home Chicago." I've got half of it memorized and can play it decently at 95% speed, with a good bit of warm up. Usually, I start around 85% and work my way up. But the problem, like I've said is playing up to speed first time every time.

Part of the problem, Chris, seems to be memory. I can play it and other stuff mistake-free with no backing track, but once that backing track goes on it seems memory goes out the window. It happens with BGIAB and every song, no matter how simple, I try to play. There will always come a point where either my mind will go blank, or I'll start to have thoughts and things will start to go awry. Doesn't matter what tune it is, I would just like to be able to play it from start to finish first time every time. I admit, I'm frustrated and feeling sorry for myself, but I just thought or hoped somebody can offer some advice (other than quitting the guitar) that might help. So, in a nutshell, I can tell you my problem is concentration and focus.
I should also add that playing up to speed needs improvement.

Thanks for helping.
 

rickbarclay

Inspired
Been there, got the t-shirt! I've struggled with the same thing for many years, and cure for me was a paradigm shift - I discovered this through a book recommended to me by a friend. Have a look for the book (it's an e-book on Amazon and might be paper back as well) called 'The Inner Game of Music' by Barry Green.

I literally only needed to read the first chapter, everything I needed was in there. He helps loads of pro musicians (and sports pros) with the same thing by getting them to stop thinking about the 'next note' or 'how it is sounding' i.e. things that distract you. Basically he teaches you to stop focussing, and instead you learn to enjoy and actually be in the moment. Because if you are not being distracted by all these other thoughts, then you relax into the song a lot better and let it happen more naturally.

I'm probably not explaining it as nearly as well as the book, it's definitely worth a read.

Anyway, I hope this helps, it did a lot for me.
Thanks, chucma. The Inner Game of Music. I don't usually put much faith in book-learning of the sort I need, but your id of my problem seems spot-on.

Neo-sound: you must not be retired, like I am. Otherwise you'd have all the time you need to study and practice. I play most every day
for at least an hour; many days much more, but I do take an occasional day or two off, too, when I start to feel in a rut. And some days
I play much better than others. Some days I know it's no use and quit after 15 minutes. But I'll never quit for good. I love the guitar too much.
 

chucma

Power User
Thanks, chucma. The Inner Game of Music. I don't usually put much faith in book-learning of the sort I need, but your id of my problem seems spot-on.
Totally understand, I agree actually cos I stopped reading after chapter one. I think it sums up in one easy sentence really, that is to play because you are enjoying the moment, not because you are focussing on any distractions such as tone, riffs etc. Those things tend to come better when you worry less about them and enjoy your playing even more.
 

NeoSound

Fractal Fanatic
You need to get out and play with other musicians even if just jamming around, it forces you to look at things in a more serious way. It will also let you see your weaknesses and know what to work on.

Nope not retired, I love to work but it seems to take over and run my life much of the time. I keep telling myself, next week, next month, next year it's all going to smooth out, but that's been going on for 30 years now :)
 

boolean

Experienced
Been there, got the t-shirt! I've struggled with the same thing for many years, and cure for me was a paradigm shift - I discovered this through a book recommended to me by a friend. Have a look for the book (it's an e-book on Amazon and might be paper back as well) called 'The Inner Game of Music' by Barry Green.

I literally only needed to read the first chapter, everything I needed was in there. He helps loads of pro musicians (and sports pros) with the same thing by getting them to stop thinking about the 'next note' or 'how it is sounding' i.e. things that distract you. Basically he teaches you to stop focussing, and instead you learn to enjoy and actually be in the moment. Because if you are not being distracted by all these other thoughts, then you relax into the song a lot better and let it happen more naturally.

I'm probably not explaining it as nearly as well as the book, it's definitely worth a read.

Anyway, I hope this helps, it did a lot for me.
Just read the synopsis for 'The Inner Game of Music'. Sounds like it could be very helpful for me, so I just ordered a copy!

Thanks for posting this chucma .
 

maxdown

Fractal Fanatic
I'm with NeoSound on this ...... get into a group ...... it will sharpen you up 100% because you'll be concentrating on avoiding the 'wtf' evil eyes from the others :)

If you're content to fly solo and just do home studio style then needing to warm up is not ever going to be a problem ...... just enjoy doing what you do and be proud of the perfect take when you get it.
 

rickbarclay

Inspired
Thanks, kgk. That link looks very interesting.

Chuckma, I have been and do play for the moment. That's the easy part. I can turn the backing track off and play what I've memorized,
and in fact, I think that helps when I go back to the track. The only problem is playing something like Sweet Home Chicago is never up
to speed without the other instruments. Perhaps I should try a metronome. But the mistakes are still there, too, just not as many because of the slower speed. Yesterday, after getting my frustrations out here, I played better, actually liked what I did, so I know it's kind of a sine wave thing with day-to-day playing. I'll live with it.

Neo Sound, I hope you make it to retirement. I started playing in my twenties and gave it up completely after I started raising my family,because I just couldn't find the energy to work, devote time to my family, and practice. So something had to go, and it was an easy decision I don't regret at all. If you can raise your family, work, and play, then more power to ya, buddy. You'll be that much better off whenyou do reach 66 or whenever. Speaking from experience I can tell you, retirement is a wonderful thing.

And then we have the playing with others thing, which I don't mean to demean or slight or ignore. It's just that playing with others is much easier said than done. Before I got married I did play with a group of fellows, who soon found out we had all reached our limits with each other and went our separate ways. And now that I'm retired and living 700 miles away from where I was born and raised, playing with others, for me, has not panned out. The closest I'll get to PWO is my backing tracks and tutorials--and it's enough for me, thank you.

Thank you all for your interest and I hope that if you have something more to add here, you will.
 
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