Hey everyone,

Just recently I signed up for an intermediate guitar group in my local community. I've been playing for about 3 years and have some basic knowledge of theory, ear training, and overall technique/musicianship. I can't solo to save my life or play a full song. Most of the guys in the guitar group are much older (40+) and have been playing since they were teenagers and usually by ear. I'm 23 and have mostly learned just from Mel Bay (book one), Learn and Master Guitar (made it up to the fingerstyle session), and putting together random information here and there. Little to no ear playing at all. The overall intent of the purpose of this guitar group is for us to learn how to interact with other musicians and basically find our own voice and express creativity. The instructor said he wants us to eventually go off in groups of threes and he'll give us a key to work with and we'll all have like 10 mins to come up with a song out of that. One of us playing rhythm, one playing lead, and the other fingerpicking. Then we'll switch and take turns. The whole idea and concept of it is something I am definitely into and exactly what I need to become the musician i'd like to be.

However... i'm quite intimidated and kind of actually scared to continue on with it. Considering how much more advanced the other players are and my lack of musicianship in general. I'm the worst player in the group by a long shot. My "abilities" are enough that the instructor said I at least qualify participate, but I am no where near able to play at the level everyone else does. Sometimes it feels like I may be more of a burden than anything. Although, I felt a little more relieved when one of the other guys didn't fingerpick so he had some trouble with that. We've only had one class so far, but it consisted mainly of the teacher playing a progression and he'd have us take turns playing lead over it. I completely seized up because I have no skills playing lead let alone have any group participation/jamming experience either. I mean, I can play a C major scale up and down in first position, but have no clue how to improvise a melody out of it. I was basically just fumbling and hitting random notes not even "trying" to make something musical out of it. Mainly because I just didn't know how. I guess the whole reason why i'm writing this thread is to ask how can I at least somewhat catch up to be at least able to hold my own in a situation like this? I don't expect to be rifling off 16th note triplets at 300bpm but to at least feel comfortable enough to jam and contribute what I can. I asked the instructor and he said to just practice this fingerpicking/bass run pattern he taught us as being enough til the next week. I've been practicing it since, but it still doesn't help me with the whole "musicianship" side of things. The good thing about this guitar group is the overall rawness of it. It's like straight up just raw music playing. The teacher is the type where he'll play it and either expect you to pick it up from ear, or by watching what he does. I don't think the instructor even knows how to read notes nor do the majority people in the class. I'm the more academic type where i'd rather prefer like notes, theory, and strumming patterns per se, but can appreciate and understand the whole vibe of it although it's not my style of learning. I guess what i'm trying to get at is, what can I do/learn/practice to help myself in that style of learning? I like it because it's more about improving your musicianship than anything else. Something i'm very much lacking in which is why i'm so scared and nervous about it all. Any help or recommendations to resources would be greatly appreciated.

Btw, some stuff i'm currently working on right now is Berklee Modern Guitar Method, Guitar Fretboard Workbook, Contemporary Ear Training for Musicians (Musicians Institute), and Progressive Rhythm Guitar just to give people an idea of what i'm practicing. I'm also thinking about transcribing the songs from the first Mel Bay book to help with applicable ear training.

Last edited by sapdoog at Oct 22, 2013,
This was a long post and sorry I didn't have the time to read all of it. I have the opposite problem this seems to detail. I can out play everybody I know. I think you should continue on with it. Get to know the members of the group better. Ask them for advice on technique and what to lear next. Learn songs from them. Your learning will be accelerated, because they are better. I would stick with the group.
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Well if you struggle, that's a good thing because it means you'll be improving! If you want a 'quick' start to making your improvising sound musical, every time the chords change, make sure you hit the root note of the new chord. Quite simple and easy to practice, and sounds really effective!

Stick with the class, sounds like you'll learn quite a lot as you go along!
I teach guitar, so if you're in Uxbridge, United Kingdom and fancy brushing up, get in contact! Uxbridge Guitar Lessons