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The most important things to help you improve as a player?


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I had been banging on the Piano for while when at 12 I got my first Guitar and hammered out a relationship between them.

Being self taught was limiting until I got together with a friend and we started to Share what we had learned.

One day I bought a Bass because I was fascinated by the way it looked. When I was walking home with it some friends saw me carrying it and asked if I wanted to join their band.

At the time I could relate a root note to chords, so I developed the skill could to watch and translate. A short time later we played our first gig.

Continuing to learn from the band my guitar skills were improving, so when I eventually joined a Blues Band as a Bass player, the band decided I was better at playing Rhythm guitar and I started picking up riffs from our lead player.

During solitary times I mostly just played guitar, but finding it really easy to join bands as a Bass player and was able to heavily influence the group to be more creative.

Eventually putting down the Bass and just focusing on being an improv Lead player, I started to attract Jazz influenced Rock players.

So for me massive improvement came from playing with other people and practice practice practice.

 

So this is what worked for me, whats your story?

Edited by mihcmac
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Best thing anyone can do to improve is to play with others.

They don't have to be better than you, or worse than you....EVERYONE brings something to the table.

I don't get the chance to play with others much anymore....(and my playing shows it).  

I recognize my limitations of playing by myself, (Timing, for one).

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1 hour ago, mihcmac said:

 

So this is what worked for me, whats your story?


You named most of it, good sir. 

* Practice

* Playing with others, and picking up on what everybody has to offer

and, my personal favorite, 

* Performance-oriented motivation. 
When you have a gig or show or performance to get ready for, you will step up your game, get it all right, and you will improve. 
Because you have to. 

Without a goal or an upcoming performance (even if it's playing for the elderly at an assisted-living place, or playing/singing at a wedding, whatever) you tend to waffle and noodle aimlessly, and you never get any better doing that. 

😉

 

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I improved a ton after I retired.  So much better now than when I was younger.  I think joining Guitar Tricks for several years helped me the most. They had songs regulated in difficulty. the easiest were 1 guitar and the most difficult were 5 guitar. I started at one guitar and within 2 years I was playing 4 guitar songs.  Never tried the 5 guitar songs. I might get back on it again.  I was running out of songs I wanted to learn so I quit it 3 years ago. But it was so much better than just surfing the net to find someone who you liked playing it correctly.  

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2 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Robert Fripp says practice. He should know he's pretty good.

 

 

Yep, Practice makes perfect. The only way I'll ever get to play in a band is if I volunteer to play in our church group band. But they have 3 guitar players now.  A acoustic, a lead and a bass. Then a key board player, a drummer and a pianist. and 3 gals who sing. 

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16 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Robert Fripp says practice. He should know he's pretty good.

 

 

He ha sadly since seemed to have gone slightly mad during lockdown.. Wheres RCT?

 

 

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Rab's, Thats what my cousin showed me. Listen to a album and here whats being played, then play the string or strings that sound most like it and pick the song out. As a kid I stopped the album several times doing that picking the song out little by little until I had the whole song. Yeah, Fred couldn't read a sheet of music but he played in a great band.

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Studying classical guitar taught me the "Support-a-Stroke" with I immediately applied to bass. Music Theory gave me a better understanding of scale structures which helped a lot when I did an improv jazz performance class at ASU.  This was before internet instruction existed or even thought of.

Anything that can motivate you to practice you to practice more will help, when my children were small I had a really good headphone amp called a Play Buss which helped me get a through a few years of diapers with out waking them up. With my last band I carried a Roland Cube in my car so I could practice anywhere.

Through most of my life I never went anywhere without a guitar, even traveling for work or camping or what ever, it was always my companion. Yeah I'm a crazy that way.

I owe so much to the musicians that shared their skills with me.

There are many talented people in this forum that I hope will comment on their learning experiences.

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Jack of all trades player here. Master of none. I love music and love to play. That's what makes me an ambitious player.

I've tried to play everything that ever appealed to me, and a few things that didn't. 

In my 20s the only music I couldn't solo over was mainstream jazz (those chord changes come too quick!). A few years ago I was asked to audition for a jazz band. I knew none of the tunes and just jumped in blind, playing entirely by ear. I was asked to join. Then came the really hard work. Learning those tunes properly. I regard it as the last major achievement of my musical career. I'm still not a jazz musician. I'm still a jack of all trades that can fool people most of the time. 

 

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14 hours ago, Rabs said:

He ha sadly since seemed to have gone slightly mad during lockdown.. Wheres RCT?

 

 

Yes he may be off is nut and his wife is very proud of those baby feeders.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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34 minutes ago, Whitefang said:

Ha!  I suppose I TOO would practice more with that kind of incentive!  [wink]

Whitefang

I can't stand her singing voice. Robert must have said "damn a pretty blond with huge jugs is paying attention to a guy who makes weird music like me".

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1 hour ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

I can't stand her singing voice. Robert must have said "damn a pretty blond with huge jugs is paying attention to a guy who makes weird music like me".

No.. Shes awful .. She had a couple of "hits" in the 80s... Literally two songs and then disappeared (thank goodness).

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Its like Ed Sullivan said at the end of his show "Thanks For The Mammaries"

So it looks like the main things are;

Practice

Playing with others

Incentive

Get it just like the Record

Technique instruction

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I do a lot of "improv" solo playing.   

I used to turn on a random radio station and play over whatever happened to come on the radio.  Pretend there is no vocal and play a solo over each song all the way through.  

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, ghost_of_fl said:

I do a lot of "improv" solo playing.   

I used to turn on a random radio station and play over whatever happened to come on the radio.  Pretend there is no vocal and play a solo over each song all the way through.  

I do something similar, I tell Alexa to play Santana , I like to jam along with Carlos for a while. Or other progressive/improv style bands that allow space to improvise.

 

Edited by mihcmac
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I agree with "tlwwalker" - you can practice all you want and may not improve much at all because there is no pressure.  If you mess up you just stop and start over.  That doesn't work when you are performing.  One of the best bands I was in almost never practiced.  Occasionally we would get together with a couple of acoustic guitars if we wanted to learn new material, but the bulk of our show was learned working without a net - on the stage.  If you do make a mistake, you learn to cover it up as best you can and keep going.  If there is a particular part that is tricky you need to fight through it and play the entire song.  Then you can go back and do that song again looking out for the tricky part, but if you stop at that difficult section you'll never learn to get through it.

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4 minutes ago, Twang Gang said:

I agree with "tlwwalker" - you can practice all you want and may not improve much at all because there is no pressure.  If you mess up you just stop and start over.  That doesn't work when you are performing.  One of the best bands I was in almost never practiced.  Occasionally we would get together with a couple of acoustic guitars if we wanted to learn new material, but the bulk of our show was learned working without a net - on the stage.  If you do make a mistake, you learn to cover it up as best you can and keep going.  If there is a particular part that is tricky you need to fight through it and play the entire song.  Then you can go back and do that song again looking out for the tricky part, but if you stop at that difficult section you'll never learn to get through it.

Very good need to practice not stopping part way through a song, no matter what. 

Playing with other people in a band for or during gigs is also a good learning experience, staying in sync with everyone can also point out some of your own deficiencies.

In one of the improv bands I joined the keyboard player would nod any me when it was time to start ripping and nod again to stop. Just playing lead actually weakened my understanding of the progression we were playing.

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Well, I can't play with others as there aren't any around me I know of. At 13, I had my cousin that taught me and it was fun playing with him. He went off to Vietnam so my cousin behind us took over on the guitar lessons. Both Fred & Steven have been dead for decades now. When I retired from Burlington Northern, I joined guitar tricks as I said earlier. I went through the whole course just to refresh my memory. How to hold a pick, strumming patterns, chords and chord shapes, Bending strings, ect. I started practicing up to 4 to 6 hours a day. I was playing along with the teacher doing the lesson and also along with the DVD by the group who played the song to get my timing down. I think the long hours of practice playing it over and over again helped the most.  Rhythm seems the easiest to me. I can play lead and still do but learning new songs on solo is my most difficult since that brain tumor. I just have to do it slow, one page at a time going over it again and again. Think it's my memory?  

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