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Old 06-25-2014, 06:10 PM   #1
paul.housley.7
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advice request: motivation, method, gear and more

I think that i have hit my first wall. I didn't play much for the last month or so, and when i do play there's a feeling of going through the motions. I'll provide more details - lots more details - but that's the problem that's bugging me.
Motivation.
Enthusiasm.
A feeling of accomplishment.


Now here's the specifics:
I'm 34 years-old.
I started playing about a year ago for 3 main reasons.
1. To be able to do some cool guitar things and eventually be able to impress my friends a little bit.
2. To be able to teach my daughter to play as I learned.
3. To defeat my ADD.

As for the first goal - i've learned a fair bit about playing guitar but i've also learned that i still have a lot to learn. I'm not anywhere close to feeling like a proficient guitarist. I'm okay with that but it's a bit frustrating. I sheepishly admit that I was hoping that it would come easy once i started, but instead it appears that i'll have to work as hard as anyone else.
I know - boohoo.

If that was all I had to say then i would've spared you all the sad story. There's not much reason for sympathy when a guy says he doesn't want to work as hard as everyone else. I know that.

But it hit me at just about the same time when the other two goals have been threatened. My daughter - almost 5 yrs-old - can barely be convinced to bring her "guitar" (guitalele) downstairs and I don't think it'll do any good for either of us if we try to force her. She might just not be interested in music. That's okay too of course. She doesn't need to be forced to play an instrument.

And the ADD reason is also just about gone because i've been seeing a therapist about my ADD and i'm starting to see that there are more efficient means of solving my problems.


So now this activity that I had formerly been enjoying has become a borderline chore instead. I am working on a few songs, slowly, but I'm progressing very slowly as well. I think i'm at a point where I need to put in some regular practice time but my practice time is becoming more irregular by the month.
I do still get some enjoyment out of the practice but i generally feel guilty, as if I should be doing something more productive.
And if my wife is watching tv then i feel bad about the string noise (even with headphones),



I have been considering strategies to spark my interest but everything i've come up with so far is either a bad idea or simply infeasible. Lessons would help me a lot (i think) but i can't make the time or money for them right now. I thought about trading some gear but my current guitar is too good for me already. I like it a lot and there's no reason to think that a different guitar would be anything other than a temporary novelty.

Rocksmith always used to get me through these tough patches before but I have learned enough about what Rocksmith can't do to be wary about using it too much.
I do have a big list of things that i need to learm - song passages and playing techniques and more - but little motivation to try them.


Right now i'm generally practicing 3 or 4 song passages one after the other, never really perfecting any of them and eventually getting frustrated with the process. Then I watch tv.
I tried adding a new song to the mix and it helped for an evening but the effect already seems to be wearing away. It's like a drug that i've started to develop a tolerance to.




So what did you guys do when you felt down about stuff like this? What wisdom for me?
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:54 PM   #2
Bocob
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Something that really helps me with practicing is setting a timer to 10 minutes to work on something, then after that 10 minutes immediately move on to something else. I find that it really gives your practice routine a good forward motion.

If you want to get inspired, maybe listen to something you've never listened to before. I find that a fresh perspective can really help set off some new inspiration for you.

Maybe with your daughter you're trying too hard to make her learn guitar? Just let it happen, if she doesn't pick it up I'm sure she'll find something else that suits her better. Learning music isn't for everyone, so I'd say don't push it too hard.

And remember, everyone is good in their own way. What you will focus on might be something some of the "best" guitarists are completely unaware of. Your own way of thinking will contribute to your philosophy on the guitar, so just play to enjoy it.

Props to you for actually coming to a site like this and asking for advice, it's a brave thing to do! But I hope my advice can work for you
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:22 PM   #3
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It just seems to me that you just need to learn how to practice really... I mean it's pretty normal to hit a rut in your playing I've been through too much to count, but the most important thing to do to get yourself out of these ruts are just to try something completely different. Try learning a style of music that you're not familiar with maybe finger style? Oh, and about the guitar feeling like a chore it should never feel like a chore so if it's feeling boring just drop it for a week and come back you might get back to it with a fresh perspective on learning. Most importantly if I were you I'd learn how to practice properly it's quality over quantity!


By the way learning the guitar isn't easy it's hard and takes discipline you should be proud of yourself that you've made it a year in most people just pick it up, and quit after 3 months of learning just because of the fact that learning to play is difficult and progress doesn't happen overnight.. I can respect that you're dedicated to playing it beats me how you have a family and can still manage to put in practice time good for you dude keep it up!

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Old 06-26-2014, 08:02 AM   #4
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It seems like anytime someone looks at their playing in a goal-oriented manner, they wind up frustrated. You've got to play because you enjoy playing, no matter what your current level is. If you don't look at it as "practice" but just playing music, you tend to do it a lot more and then all those goals tend to take care of themselves.

Like Adam Rafferty said the other day - and he's a fantastic guitarist - "I practice for the love of practicing itself – with no result in mind."
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:46 AM   #5
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Another couple of things you could try is to find a teacher and get some lessons,
or find some guys to jam with / start a band.

In both cases you'll learn some new songs and techniques and importantly have some fun (especially if you start a band).

There's also the added motivation that you won't want to make too many mistakes in front of the other jam mates or you'll want to show that you've practiced what the teacher taught you in the last lesson and show that you've improved.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:12 PM   #6
paul.housley.7
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You guys are helping already. The whole situation seemed to be very straight-forward and logical in my head. A problem to be solved I guess...

But I guess I'm making it so it's not as much fun.

The good news is - I'm getting the urge to see my Epiphone. I haven't had it out in a while. I think I'm gonna go get it now.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:04 PM   #7
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Yeah don't force your daughter. 5 is pretty young for an instrument. A lot of people don't start until 7 or 8, and a lot don't start until their early/mid-teens. If you leave her alone she might pick it up again off her own bat, whereas if you force her she might always hate it.

You don't always have to practise, either. Play things you enjoy, too.
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtc83
It seems like anytime someone looks at their playing in a goal-oriented manner, they wind up frustrated. You've got to play because you enjoy playing, no matter what your current level is. If you don't look at it as "practice" but just playing music, you tend to do it a lot more and then all those goals tend to take care of themselves.

Like Adam Rafferty said the other day - and he's a fantastic guitarist - "I practice for the love of practicing itself – with no result in mind."


^^^ This. Play for joy and don't worry so much about goals. Playing with others always inspires me, even just jamming in the park.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:13 PM   #9
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I will let the others speak mostly on your first two points, as I have little time at the moment. I may come back to that in a little bit. However, about your ADD I will say a few things. Mind you, these are from personal experience, they never are similar to what you may experience. However, from reading your post, I can tell several similarities already.

First off, I am afraid that from personal experience, as well as working with similar afflicted people, if you'll forgive me the awful term, I will have to get the 'defeat' part out of the way. From what I've learned, you do not defeat ADD. You do not get better, and you do not get cured. There are ways to make it more a 'background' noise rather than the bloody mac-truck rolling through your living room all the time, but that is it. It does not get cured, it does not go away, and you do not get better.

Are there solutions? Certainly, but they do not offer a cure, merely a solution to how to cope with the situation, not change the situation in itself.

First things first, impressing your friends is usually easy. But you've likely figured that out already.

As for your other points; I grew up simply knowing that until i was 10, I would play an instrument. My memories go back to about 6 or 7, which isn't very far. But I've always played an instrument, because I was told to. This does not always work, like in the case of your daughter. Depending on how dominant a person is, will they accept the chances and fate handed to them, to put it this way. If your daughter does not want to play guitar, she will not do it. Usually, in the case of my students, I tell parents to give it a year, but it should actually be two. After that, the switch either goes on, and stays on, or it never will.

Another example on this, is a jazz-theory teacher I met during my time at the conservatory. He claimed, that he did not force his children to play an instrument; instead, he believed that musicality and the wish to do something with it comes from within. So should they choose to, he'd support it. If not, he would not force them. Now, as inspiring a man he was, I still do not agree with him, as I've often found that not everyone is capable of re-inventing the wheel, but still can be a fantastic driver. If you do not know the existence of the answers, you may not always think to actually even ask the questions. I would always offer the opportunity of experiencing music, but take this for what you will.

Now, as for your 3rd point. What I am basically trying to say, is that all that I read into your post, is largely due to this. I've always experienced it as were there a big switch in my head, which was either OFF, or On... unfortunately it is quite often on the OFF side, which can be a predicament.

I know what I am capable of. I know that I am, speaking from the perspective of learning/reasoning capabilities, I 'can' be on the level of what some would consider highly gifted; on whatever subject I please. We call this hyperfocus I believe. But ONLY when the switch allows one to do so, during the rest of the time one can be as stupid as a donkey's behind. And I've found that the only way to cope with this, is to put yourself in a situation where you can function socially at all times. For me it was teaching guitar. And when I say this is the only thing I can really do, that doesn't mean I am incapable of anything else, this is simply the subject that I can 'always' do. Because it doesn't require me the high-level aspects some other subjects do. You are simply presented with a problem, that you have to solve. It is short, simplistic, and incredibly fun. And even an Off-ADD brain can handle that, in fact it's quite suited for it.

The reason you have a hard time focusing on, or even enjoying, what you consider important at a certain moment(such as learning new songs), is because of ADD. It does not care what you 'need' or want at that moment, it simply tells you what you're going to be able of doing, and enjoying. And it's up to you to figure out how to keep a steady pace with it, to make your life enjoyable.

And as such I would really wish to press this on to you, do not try to cure yourself, and do not try to change what you are. The mind and a person's personality are largely down to a simple combination of chemicals. Putting in different ones by means of drugs (or medicine as it's commonly known) for example, will not so much as 'cure' you. It will make you a different person, and it is very important you ask yourself if you really want that.

Because you my friend, are a genius... whenever your head allows you to. Ride the wave or be succumbed by it.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:29 PM   #10
paul.housley.7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FretboardToAsh
I will let the others speak mostly on your first two points, as I have little time at the moment. I may come back to that in a little bit. However, about your ADD I will say a few things...



I had the oddest sense of fellowship as I read that. I know EXACTLY what you're trying to say even though (forgive me for pointing it out...) your writing style is slightly disjointed. Yes. I get what you're saying.
More importantly I think you get what I'm saying as well.

I am on Adderall. I do like it. I know some people don't like how it makes you feel. I resisted drugs for 25 years based on my experience with a brief trial of Ritalin when I was young. I eventually got frustrated enough that I was willing to give Adderall a try and to my surprise it has been a pleasant experience.
It doesn't solve ADD but it does make it more bearable.

I'm also talking to a counselor - therapist - every Friday. The therapist is helping me to understand the problem. She uses phrases that echo some of the ones that you were using. I need to make a modification to my explanation now. I didn't think everyone would understand my ADD problem so I over-simplified it a little bit.

Playing guitar was an activity that I have been determined NOT to get hyperfocused on. I guess I should say that it seemed okay for me to be hyper-focused in the moment while I was playing but I always wanted to be very careful about downplaying the importance of the event. I reasoned that if I ever got serious then the ADD would kick in and i'd eithed become obsessed with it or get bored with it.

That's where i'm at though. I've banked most of the easy lessons and now i've reached a point where it's starting to be more about refining what i know and also about doing targeted learning exercises. That's triggered the ADD. ADD has activated and I'm feeling depressed because I don't know how to control it.

I bet FretboardtoAsh will understand this thing that i'm about to say but the rest of you might think i'm crazy.
Triggering the ADD about the guitar makes me want to work on my car stereo instead.
Or clean the *******.
Or play Magic Cards
Or post on message boards.

Even though the Guitar is what triggers the ADD - the ADD doesn't listen to what triggered it. In fact it's contrary. It will go out of its way to do something else.
That's not exactly what I said in the first post and I hope nobody is offended by that, but I didn't truthfully want to talk about my ADD in such detail at first. I kinda got drawn out of my shell a little bit by FretboardtoAsh, so...
Yeah. That's what's up. I don't know how to fix it.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:37 PM   #11
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I started playing about a year ago for 3 main reasons.
1. To be able to do some cool guitar things and eventually be able to impress my friends a little bit.
2. To be able to teach my daughter to play as I learned.
3. To defeat my ADD.

1: impress friends? do you have to do this to gain friends? Really?
2: Only if she gets the desire to do it you may have chance
3: Do not let it get to you. Yes easier said than done but the more you present yourself and believe that ADD label the worse you will get in your mind with time. So what! Work with it instead and do not let it control your life. That is how to fix it. If you have the true desire to play guitar then you have enough reasons for doing it.

As for the reason for playing guitar should be nothing than the desire to play what you want to play/practise/learn etc.

Now all you got to do is to find the motivating part with your guitar practise.

As for me I am 40 in august and for the last 20 years I have played but never practised on a serious level though I got tons of material to go through. I got gear that I am very happy with and my 2 electric guitars have been with me since '95 and '97.

In order to move on and upgrading my guitar skills I decided to learn a tune that I have always liked for the last 20 years and I also got the vinyl record of it because of it. It is by the Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and called far beyond the sun.

Naturally I play my Fender Stratocaster for that and use my 2104 Marshall 50 watt combo. However the sound combination takes work and I do lack in one area to make it sound great. Playing against a metronome and the challenge of making it sound great is what motivates me besides learning and my skills always getting better.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old 07-03-2014, 07:59 AM   #12
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Good morning, or evening, or whatever it is. I've been traveling for a bit so I'm a somewhat out of the rhythm as of late; as well as not having had the chance to check the internet at all, or reply for that matter. It's an interesting read, and yes I do understand your points. It's mostly a matter of getting to understand your view from my perspective, and how those things translate to my own experiences. But they're all there, and it's somewhat of a relief to read them like this.

You see, I've not known this all until just a few years ago. There has not been a therapist, nor medicine, or anything of the sort that hinted towards this that I've known of. So to read all this is mostly another part for me that, selfish as it is, tells that I'm indeed right, and this is exactly what has been going on.

As for everyone else, it's a bit hard to explain, so what Paul's trying to convey is understandably troublesome. The problem is that with ADHD you can at least 'see' a little bit of what that particular person is experiencing. With ADD it's not that easy, and it's even worse if you do not know yourself that there is something 'wrong', or simply not as it usually is. I cannot even write a sentence properly without skipping words and sometimes entire subjects, simply because my mind is already 20 pages ahead of where I am physically (being whatever one is writing at the time). I will likely have missed 3/4ths of what I was wanting to say in this very post by the time I hit the submit-button.

After a while, you simply accept that you're either stupid, or at the very least 'cannot do what you do not want at the time'. The first is what I've thought for decades, simply that everyone else is smarter, while it was in fact 'normal'; this is not a good view for a child to have. The latter, is what I've eventually come up with, and damned if I'm not right when I found out there is actually a title for such a thing.

The hyperfocus is a strange beast, and it does whatever it pleases. I've been able to study 300 pages in an hour while not having looked at or cared for the subject for the entire year; read it twice in that time, and remembered 90% of it. This is 6 seconds per page, and it was easy as pie. You do not even have to try, you just look at something, and you can deduct how everything fits together, you remember all of it... and then it wears off. And then you can literally be stuck trying to understand, or even just read one single page for an entire hour. And you cannot do it even if your dear mother were to jump off a cliff, then again that might just trigger it as well, because who bloody knows... not me.

It conveys to everything like this. Writing, typing, eating, talking, directions, purpose, studying(I won't continue but they only get worse from here in ways I'll not get into). "I forgot what I was doing/writing/going to say/going to do/where I am going/where I am" has been a staple sentence for me for several years now, not every now and again, but every bloody day, and every single minute.

The problem is that it's entirely unpredictable. For a long time I've thought that pressure, being stress and so on, would trigger the hyperfocus. And to a certain extent it does. But once you realize this, and depend on it, it'll go entirely the other way, and not trigger when you most need it; this is not funny in the slightest. And pressure can have even worse effects, because ADD is not entirely without it's autistic merits. Now that's a laugh you won't believe until you experience it yourself.

To conclude somewhat, as I'm running out of time again, you either fight it, or live by it. And I chose the latter after decades of living by the first. I cannot change what I am, and if I could then I don't want to. It may sound weak to some, and for a long time I've thought it was, I'm a very stubborn person. But most of what I've read here is that people seem to suggest just that even though they think they're not. No criticism intended, but it simply doesn't work like that.

At times it's acceptance that takes more willpower than simply fighting to change. Paul, I've sent you a PM, I'll get back to it in about a week I hope. Be well.
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