#1
I expected playing guitar to be like cooking - meaning that once you have some basic skills down you can follow a recipe (chords & lyrics) and play a song, and when you master that, you can start making your own combinations of ingredients (chords) to create something new. However, it seems like the idea of just "following a recipe" is completely impossible, seeing as there are a billion ways to play every song and every chord which are impossible to memorize or even google. Even though he wrote down the chord letters for me, googling them provides a billion ways to play everything and there is no way to even notate the riffs he showed me so looking at a paper that says "F12-E3-D4" means absolutely jack squat. How is it possible to learn to play guitar without a crazy photographic and muscle memory???????????????????? How can I practice if there is no way to remember what my teacher showed me??? Am I just looking in the wrong places?

Please help.
Last edited by shmoomoo16 at Jul 2, 2014,
#3
Once you have some skills (picking, strumming and otherwise), you can follow a recipe (the actual music sheet, chord diagram or tab) and play a song. Sometimes you are not technically proficient enough to follow the recipe, so you keep practicing until you can get the cooking time and ingredients right every time.

You don't have to master that to create your own combinations of ingredients (chords). You learn music theory to understand how chords work. Once you master that, then you literally know all the chords.

Ask your teacher to show you how exactly the chords are played first. If you cannot remember, ask him to teach you how to read chord diagrams, and write down the chords. You don't need to remember how his fingers are placed when he plays the chords. You remember how to read these diagrams (if you can't remember how the chord is played), then find out (either through the net, by asking, or figuring out by yourself) what chords a particular song uses. Once you can remember how a chord is played, you no longer have to refer to the diagrams, unless you're specifically looking for a different way of playing a chord, such as a different order of the notes (known as "voicing").

Muscle memory is important in playing guitar and other instruments, but that's also important in many things in life. You can't guarantee you will get a strike in bowling if you don't practice until you can do it in your sleep. You probably can't toss a frying egg until you've remembered what are the exact motions of doing it. It may seem like there's a lot of different things to imprint into your muscle memory for playing instruments, but it's not that much different. You just have to understand how to do something correctly from a technical standpoint (Are you making sure your fingers aren't flying everywhere unnecessarily? Are your hands super tense, making you unable to play well?) and do it so much until you're familiar with it.
Last edited by triface at Jun 27, 2014,
#4
It is a lot like cooking.

Saying "F12-E3-D4" is like saying "two eggs, salt". Am I boiling them, frying them or just beating the eggs?!

Sure, memory is involved in learning riffs and licks. I myself am more of a visual learner - start with something inexpensive and simple - Youtube ACDC Back in Black intro, for example, and practice until perfect. Rinse and repeat.
Last edited by DrRus at Jun 28, 2014,
#5
It is a bit like cooking. But it takes considerable understand of how music works before you can make your own recipes. The guitar is just one instrument and it fits into this thing called music. If you really want to understand music I recommend at least becoming familiar with a piano and then learn how the notes on the piano relate to the notes of the guitar.

With learning the guitar it is not just about learning the theory and learning the technique and putting it together. There is a lot of understanding that only comes from actually using the instrument and trying hundreds and hundreds of different things.

The guitar will eventually become an extension of you, don't rush it, you have plenty of time and if your guitar teacher is confusing you just let him know, it is his job to go faster than what is reasonable in case you are like a prodigy or something but if you are not that's cool just tell him to slow down.

Enjoy it!
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jun 28, 2014,
#6
Thank you!! Super helpful responses, I think it's starting to click finally. I will start writing out chord diagrams when as learn new things from my teacher, and take video of riffs and things that do require memory. I'm also finding the Coursera intro to guitar class to be helpful on some of the music theory. Thanks for the encouragement