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Do you need faith


EdgarHF

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I don't know if other have to force themselves to practice scales, practice sight reading, and other technical studies. I love learning new songs and just plain playing but deep practice the stuff that I mentioned in the previous sentence is just plain dreary to me. Yes, once I sit down and get in a groove I can enjoy it but the enjoyment only starts after I have already started in awhile. Improvement comes so slowly the practice seems futile. The only thing that makes me force myself into deep practice is the faith that somehow and sometime in the future I will be a better guitarist. Does practice come easy to you and if not what is your motivation?

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Scales.........awwwwwwww. Yes I agree, very dreary. I really cannot sight read music competently in relation to a guitar fretboard. I admire those that are that proficient. I would spend too long translating notes to my hands and become just frustrated. I'm kind of like a 5 noter.......okay five notes, stop, "what the hell", 5 more notes, stop, 5 more notes, "What song is this again"?.

 

Don't know how you do it? Wow. I have a cousin who is a junior high music teacher, and put a note sheet in front of him and Blam; he just plays without a pause. Admirable!

 

I always said that when I retired I would play my guitar everyday. And actually that has been true. Having the new Gibson has changed my direction back to acoustic playing. *You get spoiled in so many ways, playing the electric, I nearly forgot what my right fingers were for.

 

I try to learn a new song every other day. Whether simple or not. In the past I thought "Thank goodness for tabs". But more and more I just go to You Tube, and type in a song and let someone else teach me visually. It seems a lot more fun that way.

 

Today it was Jack and Diane. I had always fumbled the tabs on those simple riffs, but on You Tube it was a piece of cake after a bit and then it was fun (and you can even call it guitar practice). Although there are some questionable versions of songs on you tube there are many many good examples that entertain and motivate me to learn. I guess I am a You Tuber Gibson Goober.:-

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I think it depends on what you want to do with your music and where you are in your development. Probably if you want to teach or something you would need to have a lot of technical proficiency, have those scales down, etc. Maybe later that gets internalized and you no longer need to practice a lot of technical exercises. I've been playing for 40 years now and went through many different phases in my playing. At first I just wanted to learn lots of chords and be able to accompany songs I liked. Then I found a book by Robert Baxter which had detailed tabs and I learned to play a lot of John Hurt stuff note for note. Later I took some lessons and did scales and technical exercises. All of that was good stuff. More recently I discovered that I didn't want to copy other players any more and preferred to develop my own style and arrangements. I listen more to piano and other instruments than guitar players. I confess to being somewhat mystified by players who want to acquire the exact same instruments as someone famous and learn their stuff note for note - why would you want to do that if you can listen to the recordings? I guess I did do some imitative stuff decades back and it's all part of development as a musician but now I like to be free and play as I like. Sometimes I will want to achieve some technique for a tune I am working on and will spend several days really drilling and practicing to get something under control and be able to hit that smoothly, but it's all inner-directed, I'm trying to get down the mechanics of something I hear in my head, not what somebody else played.

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I have trouble practicing for practicing' sake. It's too abstract. But needing to play a certain lick or cliche drives me to repeat it until I have it down. It is endlessly repetitive, but I can hear and feel an improvement, and it becomes muscle memory. I still struggle with vibrato, after years, and will do so for years. But it gets better. And eventually it is good enough, if not exactly what I hear in my head. But if I had to "drill" scales and progressions and disect what Zappa called "clouds of gnat notes," then I would take up the accordian.

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Great question! Some great responses, too! I should first say that I am a profoundly mediocre guitarist. For what I do, it's more about feeling than technical ability. That said, for me, I learn best by watching. YouTube is a great way to do that! Learning to play a song i really like, especially if I find it difficult (which is most often the case) is infinitely more fun, and more rewarding than mindless scales. I last about five minutes on those. Most of all, it's just play, play, play. I diddle my guitar while watching the tube, or even having a conversation with my wife (you can imagine how much she enjoys that).

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Youtube is great for learning new songs hands down. But if you really want to get good at guitar you must learn how to transcribe. I thought my brother had always been able to do this but he just really worked at it. He can listen to a song and by the end of it he can play most of it. Myself, I thought you had to have the "ear" but you just have to work at it. I am slowly ( really slowly) beginning to work out easier songs. This in itself lends to more practise , ie scales or power chords or triads that you might need to learn in order to play the song you are trying to transcribe. Its very rewarding and will take you to the next level. Sure, its difficult but like anything you get better with practise. All I know is that people who really know how to play well , almost always know how to transcibe. So its still practice but there is an immediate reward when you get the song down or even part of it.

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I found a way to achieve excellent results from playing scales - I have improved as a player dramatically.

 

My instructor grew up in a really remote area, so he played guitar whenever he was bored - and he was almost always bored. Back in the day, he would use a tape recorder and he would play one chord for ten minutes straight through - then he would play scales, arpeggios and patterns over the chord while the tape played back.

 

Fortunately, for us today, we can buy a BOSS RC-2 loop pedal, play the chord once and just let it repeat - then do the exercises indefinitely.

 

So, using the loop pedal and playing scales, arpeggios, patterns, modes and pentatonic scales has given me a good knowledge of the fretboard, triad locations and bends that otherwise wouldn't have been available to me. Perhaps more importantly, I have learned to walk solos up and down the fretboard instead of staying in one area and this has allowed me to learn a call and answer style where you repeat your solo in octaves etc. - all stuff that would have been impossible to learn by ear.

 

Another issue this has helped with is ear training. I like to use strange chords for the exercise now, like an F#dim7 or a C9 - then run on the chord and the relative minor etc. After an amount of work in this way, I now find when I play with other people that I can hear an idea in my head then more or less make it happen on the guitar. This was something I could never do before.

 

So, to answer your question specifically: I think scales and arpeggios can make you a much better guitar player if you can find a way to practice them that is interesting, rewarding and fun. I feel the RC-2 makes this possible.

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I found a way to achieve excellent results from playing scales - I have improved as a player dramatically.

 

My instructor grew up in a really remote area, so he played guitar whenever he was bored - and he was almost always bored. Back in the day, he would use a tape recorder and he would play one chord for ten minutes straight through - then he would play scales, arpeggios and patterns over the chord while the tape played back.

 

Fortunately, for us today, we can buy a BOSS RC-2 loop pedal, play the chord once and just let it repeat - then do the exercises indefinitely.

 

So, using the loop pedal and playing scales, arpeggios, patterns, modes and pentatonic scales has given me a good knowledge of the fretboard, triad locations and bends that otherwise wouldn't have been available to me. Perhaps more importantly, I have learned to walk solos up and down the fretboard instead of staying in one area and this has allowed me to learn a call and answer style where you repeat your solo in octaves etc. - all stuff that would have been impossible to learn by ear.

 

Another issue this has helped with is ear training. I like to use strange chords for the exercise now, like an F#dim7 or a C9 - then run on the chord and the relative minor etc. After an amount of work in this way, I now find when I play with other people that I can hear an idea in my head then more or less make it happen on the guitar. This was something I could never do before.

 

So, to answer your question specifically: I think scales and arpeggios can make you a much better guitar player if you can find a way to practice them that is interesting, rewarding and fun. I feel the RC-2 makes this possible.

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it's more about feeling than technical ability.

 

Oth, one cant effectively channel feeling without a degree of technical ability. Getting there? I think the key is unlocking the fretboard. Scales can be one way to do it, tho, as noted, abstract. Another approach is the CAGED system (learning 5 transferable chord shapes and finding the 1-3-5 arpeggios). In my book, that's a little more immediately musical than running scale notes (not that there's anything wrong with that).

 

Whatever approach you take, I think its helpful to not be focused on the end result (future thinking). Commit to the practice process. Make practice your goal. J

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My experience matches fairly closely with JerryK in terms of preferring to make my own arrangements. I listen to a song enough to develop my own feel for it and then work out my own arrangement. I can read standard notation, but never play from it--just use it to get a melody down, for example.

 

I played many years without doing scales, learning new chords only when I needed them. As my joints have stiffened with age I find that some scales as warm up are occasionally helpful. Like jkinnama I find practicing CAGED system more useful, and I often run through the chord shapes and patterns, up and down the neck, while watching sports on tv, saying the chords out loud as Ernie Hawkins recommends. I find this quite painless as part of my brain is focused on the Red Sox (in my case), while part is doing the chords. I suppose in theory I could misassociate "C shape D' with "runner on third," but so far this has not happened. I have much greater proficiency across the fretboard, and I can now play barre chords that were impossible for me months ago (such as the full C shape all the way up the neck).

 

So, to the original question, "do you need faith," I don't think of it in those terms. I rarely do anything on guitar that I actually dislike intensely. As an amateur playing for my own enjoyment, I don't even have to play music I dislike for the sake of, say, having food on the table. I guess I briefly took it on faith that CAGED would be worth my time, but the results were so quick and obvious to me that I saw almost immediate rewards. For certain kinds of music, I suspect scales would be more advantageous but I am more likely to practice phrases (runs that may incorporate scales) in the context of a song I want to play than to play scales in their own right.

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Folks seem to fret too much about the craft of playing.

 

I have been playing a long time - my first gig was in 1966. I can't read those fly specks and hen scratches and have never sat down and actually played scales or anything like that. I don't even know the names of most of the chords I play. Best I can usually do is "it's an A7 something." I just pick a song I like and mess around with it - trying to come up with a totally new way to play it. Sometimes I find myself in the pocket - sometimes I don't. Hard part is trying to recreate something the next day. I did use to keep a little tape recorder handy which definitely helped.

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Folks seem to fret too much about the craft of playing.

 

I have been playing a long time - my first gig was in 1966.

 

1966 was the year I began playing. I had to have a guitar when the TV show "The Monkees" began airing. My musical tastes have improved slightly since then.

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Folks seem to fret too much about the craft of playing.

 

Maybe. Some, arguably, may not fret enough (only your spouse know for sho!). Seriously, tho, my hats off to anyone with the ear and patience to learn from the seat of your pants (as Dave Bromberg once said in GP: start by finding one note; the next one has to either go up or down). The techie-craft stuff is a shortcut to all of that. It opens doors. It wont impair your playing (Ray Charles was a book musician and BB King learned to read) --unless you respond mechanically and turn into a typewriter.

 

A question to consider, Edgar, is what you are hoping to be able to do musically as a result of your studies. Reading is essential for studio work or a pit band, otherwise is optional. Scales imply soling. They map out pathways but dont really show you how to play over the changes. See the link for that.

 

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Scales imply soling. They map out pathways but dont really show you how to play over the changes. See the link for that.

 

 

Thanks for the link. All good advice on that video. I think I may have given the impression that I am not as far along as I really am. I've been playing guitar 40+ years and piano 30+ years. I played bass in working bar bands during the 70s. Getting married put an end to that. It is my feeling that the best way to improve is to be in a working band and have to learn songs on stage as you perform them. People to play with now' date=' except for the occasional open mike are hard to come by. I just don't know players anymore. If I did I would chuck the J-45 and buy a bass. I actually prefer playing the bass.

 

Where do I want to go? I am not satisfied with my playing and probably never will be. Back in the early 80s or whereabouts I worked with Volume 1 of Ted Greene's Single Note Jazz Soloing book for a bit. I never did make it to volume 2. The few months I did work the book heavy it opened new doors for me.

 

About a month ago I decided that I am going to get good on guitar (yeah, like I haven't been trying all along). I have started working on [b']Mel Bay's Complete Book of Guitar Improvisation [/b] by Vincent Bredice. It may be a dead end but I have faith it will make me a better player. I am looking at the same time for a good text on Rythmn guitar. That does not mean I have stopped picking up songs off recordings. I am looking for a boost. And yes I do fret too much about the craft of playing.

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