Struggling to focus as a guitarist

Guitar Tricks Forum > Open Discussion > Struggling to focus as a guitarist

bigtankhappy

Registered User

Joined: 01/13/20

Posts: 9

Hello everyone!

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Guitar Tricks instructors and community for allowing me to persist and keep playing guitar for over two years now. I've been a subscriber since march of 2020 and I've absolutely enjoyed almost everything.

I've got a slight issue though, that I need help with:

I struggle to focus my learning as a guitar player, and I'm dissapointed with my progress. I listen to A LOT of music from many different artists, and I would love to be able to l learn absolutely everything, but I struggle to find myself an actual path to follow that can help me grow as a player. Below is what I've been working on for the past few months:

November 2019 - September 2021 - Chords/Barre Chords/A few songs

September 2021 - Day Tripper - The Beatles (1.5 years of playing)

October 2021- November 2021 - Good Times Bad Times (the rhythm parts)

November 2021 - Barracuda - Heart (still need to work on the riff for this :/)

December - January 2021 - Shook me All Night Long (rhythm parts are easy, took a while to get that solo down though)

Present day - Into the Void - Black Sabbath

I could use help figuring out an actual path for myself. I want to go places on this instrument but I am struggling to find a line of focus to follow. I'm sure im not the only guitarist with this issue, please feel free to post your own stories/problems below.

Thank you, and happy belated new year!

- Sam

#1

Hello everyone!

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Guitar Tricks instructors and community for allowing me to persist and keep playing guitar for over two years now. I've been a subscriber since march of 2020 and I've absolutely enjoyed almost everything.

I've got a slight issue though, that I need help with:

I struggle to focus my learning as a guitar player, and I'm dissapointed with my progress. I listen to A LOT of music from many different artists, and I would love to be able to l learn absolutely everything, but I struggle to find myself an actual path to follow that can help me grow as a player. Below is what I've been working on for the past few months:

November 2019 - September 2021 - Chords/Barre Chords/A few songs

September 2021 - Day Tripper - The Beatles (1.5 years of playing)

October 2021- November 2021 - Good Times Bad Times (the rhythm parts)

November 2021 - Barracuda - Heart (still need to work on the riff for this :/)

December - January 2021 - Shook me All Night Long (rhythm parts are easy, took a while to get that solo down though)

Present day - Into the Void - Black Sabbath

I could use help figuring out an actual path for myself. I want to go places on this instrument but I am struggling to find a line of focus to follow. I'm sure im not the only guitarist with this issue, please feel free to post your own stories/problems below.

Thank you, and happy belated new year!

- Sam

William MG

Registered User

Joined: 03/08/19

Posts: 1287

Hi Sam and happy new year to you!

I think it is important that we set goals for ourselves that are realistic and attainable. Learning everything is not something I am interested in, there is too much to learn and this is a hobby. So that is out for me.

What I am interested in is being able to write some of my own songs. I am interested in playing with other players and even though in these Covid times that is not easy, over Christmas I had the pleasure of playing guitar along with my son’s girl friend who played the piano. This is fun stuff. But do this, I need to know things like “hey what key is that song in?” and then know what to do with it.

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed). It’s a work in progress and will continue to be so.

What I am suggesting, and I don’t think you will find it here or on any site, is you need to develop a map for yourself of where you want to go. Then of course you can start digging into the “how is that done”.

My thoughts. Good luck

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

#2

Hi Sam and happy new year to you!

I think it is important that we set goals for ourselves that are realistic and attainable. Learning everything is not something I am interested in, there is too much to learn and this is a hobby. So that is out for me.

What I am interested in is being able to write some of my own songs. I am interested in playing with other players and even though in these Covid times that is not easy, over Christmas I had the pleasure of playing guitar along with my son’s girl friend who played the piano. This is fun stuff. But do this, I need to know things like “hey what key is that song in?” and then know what to do with it.

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed). It’s a work in progress and will continue to be so.

What I am suggesting, and I don’t think you will find it here or on any site, is you need to develop a map for yourself of where you want to go. Then of course you can start digging into the “how is that done”.

My thoughts. Good luck

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 616

You might consider taking a 1 to 1 lesson to help you with setting goals. However you will eventually have to develop your own ablity to pick goals and work thrugh them to completion. Posibly you could have that as one of your goals for your 1 on 1 lessons.

Also, as you continue to develop divergent skills (keeping in mind that you will never get it all down... repeat YOU WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DOWN!!), you should be ever more capable of learning diverse styles. This should ease your efforts to play varrious styles of music. Think how difficult playing a G chord was 2 years ago when you started...

As long as you can contiue to practice you will learn as fast as your body possibly can. In another 2 years you should be able to look back on continually increasing learning ablity. Just don't "should" on yourself. That is not the best way to become the best player you posibly can. When it comes to learning gutar...Patient, persistant practice pays.

People who become good guitarists are people who figure out how enjoy practice... period.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#3

You might consider taking a 1 to 1 lesson to help you with setting goals. However you will eventually have to develop your own ablity to pick goals and work thrugh them to completion. Posibly you could have that as one of your goals for your 1 on 1 lessons.

Also, as you continue to develop divergent skills (keeping in mind that you will never get it all down... repeat YOU WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DOWN!!), you should be ever more capable of learning diverse styles. This should ease your efforts to play varrious styles of music. Think how difficult playing a G chord was 2 years ago when you started...

As long as you can contiue to practice you will learn as fast as your body possibly can. In another 2 years you should be able to look back on continually increasing learning ablity. Just don't "should" on yourself. That is not the best way to become the best player you posibly can. When it comes to learning gutar...Patient, persistant practice pays.

People who become good guitarists are people who figure out how enjoy practice... period.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

bigtankhappy

Registered User

Joined: 01/13/20

Posts: 9

Thank you!

I'm going to make a list of the things I want to learn and put it around my practice area. This should help direct my practice and I can then focus on the 'why' as mentioned above.

Cheers

- Sam

#4

Thank you!

I'm going to make a list of the things I want to learn and put it around my practice area. This should help direct my practice and I can then focus on the 'why' as mentioned above.

Cheers

- Sam

JeffS65

Full Access

Joined: 10/07/08

Posts: 1583

You've got nothing to worry about. Sounds like you've built some skills. I mean, there is a point where you start seeing your ability to play and go 'Oh, that's ok, I guess.' But it's not that 'next level' you want to get to.

For me, starting on guitar was very easy. Too easy. Pretty early, I could play songs that folks usually couldn't play given that my playing time was measured in months.

But then.....

Big, big plateau. In part because I could play stuff reasonably, I just rode that for a while. I had started college and had other 'distractions'. The point being is that to get past a certain level of playing, I had to dig in a little more. I'd learned enough of a song or thing that I could do it ok and others around me thought I was an ok player. Not great, just ok. I could get away with being ok.

So I did. Until one day I really just wanted to have a command of the instument and certainly better than I had been.

Now, for you; you're working hard at playing and my point is not that you just need to try harder. There were a few things that I did that bumped my up a level:

(1) Adopted a drill for physical dexterity. I won't explain it inasmuch as it was something repetitive that I could do watching TV but very much added stregth to my playing. Think about building in Lisa's Spider Fingers routine.

(2) I expanded on my rather cursory understanding of the pentatonic scale and at mimimum, started to figure out (with a little guidance) how major scales, minor and major pentatonics were used. I wasn't a whiz and self-taught so I needed someone to decode it a little bit and was lucky someone did. I also started learning the different modes on the fretboard (beyond major and pentatonic), like Mixolydian and so on. I didn't go deep in to how to use them back then but had a nice map of the fretboard.

(3) I stopped learning songs just to learn to play them. I started learning licks and riffs with an eye to understanding the language behind them. The example I'll always give is; listen to any Lynyrd Skynyrd solo and you have an encyclopedia of blues rock licks. More than just learning stuff randomly, it was learning that music is a language that gets passed down. You start noticing patterns and certain common practices which is useful when you apply it to songs you want to learn or even write.

(4) Ever watch a guitar player have such a command of the instrument that it was otherworldly? I've seen more than a few great guitarists in my day and walk away both inspired and dejected...at the same time! They got to that point by making a lot of mistakes. A lot of time not playing something exactly right but kept at it until they did. With the songs that you've noted, you talked about how you have parts of it down but not all. That next step for you is to go back and work on that. Start with Barracuda. Don't walk away from a song because you got 'most of it'. Work to get all of it. That's what made those great players great. They didn't stop at ok. You know, like I did. Don't be mid-80's Jeff!

The thing is, this won't all be done tomorrow. It will all take time to get there. But two big takeaways is that commit to those things you can't do or know, and also start learning about the language of music and particularly guitar.

How do you 'grow' as a player? First, all the above stuff and particularly that 'music vocabulary' stuff. It's a good way to tie things together. Start understanding baseline info like commonalities in song structures and chord changes and shifts and the like. People like Rick Beato have a lot of material on this as well as here at GT.

So, more guidance to add to the pile. Good luck!

#5

You've got nothing to worry about. Sounds like you've built some skills. I mean, there is a point where you start seeing your ability to play and go 'Oh, that's ok, I guess.' But it's not that 'next level' you want to get to.

For me, starting on guitar was very easy. Too easy. Pretty early, I could play songs that folks usually couldn't play given that my playing time was measured in months.

But then.....

Big, big plateau. In part because I could play stuff reasonably, I just rode that for a while. I had started college and had other 'distractions'. The point being is that to get past a certain level of playing, I had to dig in a little more. I'd learned enough of a song or thing that I could do it ok and others around me thought I was an ok player. Not great, just ok. I could get away with being ok.

So I did. Until one day I really just wanted to have a command of the instument and certainly better than I had been.

Now, for you; you're working hard at playing and my point is not that you just need to try harder. There were a few things that I did that bumped my up a level:

(1) Adopted a drill for physical dexterity. I won't explain it inasmuch as it was something repetitive that I could do watching TV but very much added stregth to my playing. Think about building in Lisa's Spider Fingers routine.

(2) I expanded on my rather cursory understanding of the pentatonic scale and at mimimum, started to figure out (with a little guidance) how major scales, minor and major pentatonics were used. I wasn't a whiz and self-taught so I needed someone to decode it a little bit and was lucky someone did. I also started learning the different modes on the fretboard (beyond major and pentatonic), like Mixolydian and so on. I didn't go deep in to how to use them back then but had a nice map of the fretboard.

(3) I stopped learning songs just to learn to play them. I started learning licks and riffs with an eye to understanding the language behind them. The example I'll always give is; listen to any Lynyrd Skynyrd solo and you have an encyclopedia of blues rock licks. More than just learning stuff randomly, it was learning that music is a language that gets passed down. You start noticing patterns and certain common practices which is useful when you apply it to songs you want to learn or even write.

(4) Ever watch a guitar player have such a command of the instrument that it was otherworldly? I've seen more than a few great guitarists in my day and walk away both inspired and dejected...at the same time! They got to that point by making a lot of mistakes. A lot of time not playing something exactly right but kept at it until they did. With the songs that you've noted, you talked about how you have parts of it down but not all. That next step for you is to go back and work on that. Start with Barracuda. Don't walk away from a song because you got 'most of it'. Work to get all of it. That's what made those great players great. They didn't stop at ok. You know, like I did. Don't be mid-80's Jeff!

The thing is, this won't all be done tomorrow. It will all take time to get there. But two big takeaways is that commit to those things you can't do or know, and also start learning about the language of music and particularly guitar.

How do you 'grow' as a player? First, all the above stuff and particularly that 'music vocabulary' stuff. It's a good way to tie things together. Start understanding baseline info like commonalities in song structures and chord changes and shifts and the like. People like Rick Beato have a lot of material on this as well as here at GT.

So, more guidance to add to the pile. Good luck!

JeffS65

Full Access

Joined: 10/07/08

Posts: 1583

Originally Posted by: William
[/p]

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

#6

Originally Posted by: William
[/p]

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

William MG

Registered User

Joined: 03/08/19

Posts: 1287

Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

#7

Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

JeffS65

Full Access

Joined: 10/07/08

Posts: 1583

Originally Posted by: William
Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

Can't say I'm overly a Max Webster or even all of Kim's stuff but I do love me that song. That said, lot's of other great Canadian bands.

#8

Originally Posted by: William
Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

Can't say I'm overly a Max Webster or even all of Kim's stuff but I do love me that song. That said, lot's of other great Canadian bands.

W3

Full Access

Joined: 03/09/17

Posts: 59

Speaking of Canadian rockers, would love to see some Neil Young!

#9

Speaking of Canadian rockers, would love to see some Neil Young!

William MG

Registered User

Joined: 03/08/19

Posts: 1287

Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William
Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

Can't say I'm overly a Max Webster or even all of Kim's stuff but I do love me that song. That said, lot's of other great Canadian bands.

Yup, the stuff that takes me back is BTO, and The Guess Who and early Rush. Then there is also the Tragically Hip. But they were later and never caught on outside of Canada.

I'd like to learn a Gordon Lightfoot song as well but a lot of his stuff involves finger picking and that is beyond me.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!

#10

Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William
Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: William

I took on the challenge of learning the top Canadian rock hits of my childhood (I am a Canuck as you probably guessed).

Go for Soda?

LOL, actually I'm not a Kim Mitchell fan. I guess he is a disc jockey now in Toronto and a really nice guy.

Can't say I'm overly a Max Webster or even all of Kim's stuff but I do love me that song. That said, lot's of other great Canadian bands.

Yup, the stuff that takes me back is BTO, and The Guess Who and early Rush. Then there is also the Tragically Hip. But they were later and never caught on outside of Canada.

I'd like to learn a Gordon Lightfoot song as well but a lot of his stuff involves finger picking and that is beyond me.

"If it sounds cool, it is cool!"

Mike O

Works for me!