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  1. #1
    Premium Member
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    Oct 2019
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    Default playing for 24 yrs and still feeling like a beginner... how to deal with frustrations

    hey everyone.. Not sure if this is the right place, but i would like to share my frustrations with someone.. I've been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I played in some bands, had fun for some years, but I never reached a satisfying skill level until i decided to quit out of frustration and the last 4 years my guitars have only been catching dust in the corner of my mancave.. Last few months it started to itch again.. Why was i not able to become a "good" guitarist... A few months ago i volunteered for a band of colleagues to do a one-time gig at a local festival. I practised my ass off to get 5 pretty simple covers in one month, and had fun doing that. It motivated me enough to pick up my guitar regularly again. I subscribed to Jamplay to give it another chance. Only been doing some lessons and practising for 2 weeks now. Not sure what i can expect. Sometimes i think i shouldnt try to become what i would like to be, and just accept that my fingers and my mind are not smart enough for that. Sometimes i think its just a small hurdle i need to take so why shouldnt i try. Does anyone recognize this? What did you do to overcome the issue?

    I've mostly tried to play the metal style. I did recordings, wrote songs, some even pretty awesome, but never the real thing in terms of technique and speed. You know... the guy that does a solo, but it never really gets up to speed let alone that it blows anyones mind? I spent many many nights practising the same excercises over and over again, but always stuck at around 100bpm 16ths. Yea my right hand can do things quicker, and legato my left hand sometimes was able too, but never was i able to sync them on higher bpms. I checked out Allen van Wert his excersises, and did some lessons of Stephanie Bradly, and i think they might help me.. but still.. after all these years it feels like i am an absolute beginner on speed, and it worries me that i wasnt able to find my holy grail in mastering it.

    It's both mental and physical issues i am trying to take up the fight with. Hopefully this time i will win, and playing guitar will be all about having fun again. I appreciate anyone that can relate or help me to share his or her thoughts.

  2. #2
    Premium Member
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    Oct 2016
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    Look at how far you have come not how far you have to go. Sounds like you have unreal expectations. Quit beating yourself up!

  3. #3
    Administrator Jason.Mounce's Avatar
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    Default

    First thing first, Deltablue is right. Your mindset need to change to succeed. Instead of dwelling on where you're not, focus on how far you'e come. Once your mindset turns positive, success will be easier to attain.

    The biggest deterrent to success that we see on a regular basis is lack of proper goal setting couple with a lack of practice, or bad practice strategies and techniques.

    Lets look at goals first.

    One of the biggest issues we see is that goals are simply not being made at all. This inevitably leads to the question, what do I do next? If you have short, mid and long term goals set, you'll never have to ask that question. The first thing you should do is get out a pen and a piece of paper and create an over arching goal. Then break that goal down into it's individual components necessary to achieve it. Speed is probably one item, accuracy another. Work purposely on a single aspect of the goal's component until you reach the needed proficiency for that component.

    I personally like the SMART goal method. It's a simple acronym that helps you create goals that are meaningful and help drive your progress.
    Specific
    Measurable
    Attainable
    Relevant
    Time-Bound

    So as an example, using speed which you are struggling with. A goal could be something like "Achieve accuracy at 140BPM while playing 16th notes by August 31st, 2020." That goal tells you exactly what you need to do, can be measured, is attainable and stylistically appropriate for the genre, is relevant to the over-arching goal of being a better metal player and is bound to a time frame for completion.

    When you are practicing, you practice this and only this with exception of any items that you need maintenance on.

    When it comes to practice, it's important to be on task and purposeful. We see a lot of individuals that pick up their guitar, play a few scales, work on a picking technique and noodle around playing bits of songs or maybe some chord changes or arpeggios for 30 minutes to an hour. Noodling, playing songs, doing mini single person jams is not practice, it's play. You should make time for play, but it's important to note the distinction between the two.

    Ideally your practice will be done for about 50 minutes to an hour, daily at the same time. Why 50 minutes? productivity studies have shown that around the 50 minute mark our brains start to lose focus on a single subject and will start to wander and you start seeing diminished returns for forced work at that point. Additionally, if you're practice session is on-task it's likely that you may be starting to see fatigue that can hinder accuracy.

    Accuracy and correct repetitions are key. The old adage is that practice makes perfect, but that's not actually accurate. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Commonly what a player will do is practice an exercise and 19 times in a row, they get it wrong, then on the 20th repetition they get it right. Having succeeded, they move on to the next exercise. All you've done here is solidified how to do the exercise incorrectly. The average person needs 20 correct repetitions in a row to start committing the content to long term memory and including your muscle memory.

    Knowing you need correct repetitions, this also means that you need to dial back on your speed enough to make sure you can be accurate. If you try to run before you know how to crawl, you'll never even learn how to walk. In your post you state that you have trouble getting everything synced up at 100BPM, 16th notes. This right away tells me that you shouldn't be practicing at that tempo right now to begin with. If you always start right there, you'll never move past it.

    Instead you want to find your "sweet spot" for learning. Get out your metronome and work backwards on the tempo. What you're looking for is a tempo range that allows you to play your exercise accurately, over and over, but that doing so presents a challenge to you. Then, you practice that exercise in correct repetitions during each practice session until you get to the point that it's easy. Once you reach that point, you move the tempo up, again looking for that "sweet spot." Continue with this methodology until you achieve proficiency at the goal tempo.

    This is obviously somewhat over-simplified, but you want to account for all techniques that you may deem necessary. This may include using different scale patterns, different picking techniques etc.

    The next part of this equation is identifying problems that may be hindering your advancement. If you're really finding you're stuck somewhere, get out your phone and record yourself playing. Just like a coach re-watches a game, watch your practice from a 3rd party perspective and look for things that you might be doing that are causing a problem. How's your posture? are your arms, hands and fingers relaxed, moving fluidly and not in weird positions? Are your hands and fingers moving around in an in-efficient manner? If you're stuck there's likely a problem and it's up to you to identify that problem and correct it.

    I couple final notes on practice. If you can't dedicate 50 minutes to an hour daily, dedicate as much time daily as possibly up to that threshold. Daily being key however. It's far better to get 15 minutes of practice in every day than it is to get an hour on Monday, 30 minutes on Wednesday, an hour and a half of Thursday, then don't touch the guitar again until next Tuesday. Additionally, resist the urge to expect that you will get a lot better, really quickly. Most players once they are past the basic mechanical knowledge of playing the instrument will need a lot more time to progress through the more advanced parts of playing the guitar. Track your progress to make sure you haven't reach a plateau and be okay with any progress, even if you anticipated more.

    This has been a bit long winded, but I hope it helps you out.
    Jason Mounce
    Content Producer
    [email protected]
    877-999-4JAM

    Emil Werstler on Active Pickups:
    Pros: you can put them in a 2 X 4 and sound like zakk wylde
    Cons: you can put them in a 2 X 4 and sound like zakk wylde

  4. #4
    Premium Member
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    Oct 2019
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    Thanks Jason. Patience is not one of my strengths, so i guess i never took long enough to practice consistently. Sure, I tried doing several exercises for months on a row in all these years, but I probably never took enough time to master a certain tempo before stepping it up.. And also the "doing it wrong 19 times, and getting it the 20th", playing vs practising, in other words spending too much time on the wrong things is very recognizable.

    After my post last year, and being a Jamplay member, I kept practicing consistently for about a month or so. I even noticed significant progress doing so. Unfortunately my focus was lost again after that, and my guitars were gathering dust again. Earlier this year the company band had a nice initiative writing a Corona song. Again I had a lot of fun with it. Then somehow I thought to maybe try a different instrument so I bought myself a trumpet. Why not Same story, it was fun doing the beginnings, but when it got harder, my attention was quickly going a different way.

    Now I recently picked up my guitars preparing for an audition in a cover band.. On the verge of cancelling it, because its just too ambitious for me. All the basics are okay, but mastering solo's and certain styles are definitely an ongoing challenge. 5 songs in a month, and 45 songs to learn asap if i even get that far. I guess my shallow playing style, and focussing on the wrong things, never got me to build up anything reusable, except for some standard metal riffs. At least it got me playing again, refreshing some gear. I think I will just pick up reallife lessons again and with your feedback in mind, try to hold on to it and managing my expectations better. How i wish i was 16 again. No responsibilities and all the time in the world to spend practicing besides playing

    Anyway, thanks for your feedback, even after 8 months
    Last edited by Sjakiem; 08-12-2020 at 05:31 PM.

 

 

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