#1
Hi,

I would like to hear from people who, like myself, are in their first year of playing the guitar.

State how long you've been playing for
Whether or not you take lessons
What you find hard
How often you play
Mention any useful drills that improved your playing,
Your routine
What you can play
What you long term goal is
Last edited by Elplater at Nov 16, 2016,
#3
I'm definitely not on my first year, but if you don't mind I can try remembering how I felt.

I did not take lessons during my first year, I did, however, start them shortly after.

I remember having trouble with rhythm and ear-hand coordination. Like I would like this song, try to learn it from tab, and wonder why it sounded all wrong. Later I realized that my rhythm was just way off and I didn't have the ear to notice it.

I played every day back then, for a couple of hours. Now, I play daily, but I rarely have time for a two hour practice session.

What always improved my playing was learning new songs, as it gives you a sense of progress and achievement.

My routine was pretty much just warm-up, and then some silly technical exercises like 3nps scales, then tapping, then sweeping, but I've progressed a lot since and understand that it wasn't that productive. Right now, I don't have that much time for a steady routine, but when I do, I try to learn a song by ear, jot it down in whatever form of notation I want, analyze it a bit, then record myself performing the song and practicing parts that sound off.

I don't think I could play anything more impressive than some metallica and slayer riffs after my first year.

My long term goal is to become a good composer, although I'm not really into metal anymore (love listening to it still). I'd love to play in a successful local band, get some recognition as a performer and songwriter, and maybe do some session work. I just want to be a reliable and versatile musician.
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Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#4
Kevätuhri

My routine was pretty much just warm-up, and then some silly technical exercises like 3nps scales, then tapping, then sweeping, but I've progressed a lot since and understand that it wasn't that productive.


How would your time have been better used back then?
Learning songs?
#5
Elplater

That, and actually practicing technique that's useful, like picking, strumming, general rhythm techniques, vibrato and bending. All of those are lot more useful than knowing how to play the tapping lick for eruption, that's for sure
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#6
Kevätuhri

I always give myself time at the end of a session to play something cool, well try!

Once I get more flexibility, strength and independency on the fretting side of things I'll be very pleased.

At the moment it all seems but a dream.
#7
When I picked up the guitar, about one and a quarter years ago, I didn't actually know what I wanted from it. I had some idea that I wanted to "be musical" with it, but as vague as that sounds, it was even more vague in my brain. After a short while I decided that I wanted to be able to improvise "on anything", I thought; I mean, how hard could that be?! So I started off teaching myself the standard way: I did a bit of JustinGuitar for about a month, but while I recognized the importance of chords, I didn't feel like I wanted to be a rhythm guitar player and it was distracting me from my goals of lead guitar improvisation mastery awesomeness...

So after reading some forums on what improvisation actually means (to be fair, I'm still a bit in the dark on that one), I decided that I needed to learn scales. That's the map towards improvisation, the internet said, it must be right, right? Great, I'll start at the beginning and drill the A major scale into my fingers in all positions. After about 3 months of doing that, I had had absolutely enough. Guitar practice had become a chore and while I did know the patterns everywhere, I was nowhere near "musical". Every attempt at improvisation sounded to me like I was skinning cats. I ditched scale practice, never "graduated" to B major.

Ok, I thought, maybe I should learn some songs. I'm a fan of Knopfler's lead guitar parts so I started learning the easiest song I could think of, "Follow me home" - short licks, slow speed, that'll do. I actually transcribed the whole thing because I couldn't find any tabs, but looking back at a recording, the positions I chose to do the riffs in are very weird. Learning that took me another three months or so and couldn't do it at full speed, only 70%.

Let's give improv another shot. Damn it, it still sounds like I'm running scale patterns, wtf is wrong with me? Must be my lack of vocabulary, weird, I thought a song would fix that. I'll learn another one, News, again from Dire Straits, slightly harder with lots of chord changes, but it's in E minor like the first song. Hell, I'll transcribe this one too, it was fun the first time.

Two more months went by, got the song down, but improv still seemed so, so far away. I couldn't be musical outside of just repeating the songs I had learned. I understood the theory, I knew that you had to accentuate the proper chord tones at the right time. I was trying so, so hard to do just that, but somehow failing to sound... well, I wasn't even hoping I'd sound "good" anymore, I only wanted to not hate what I was... making, I guess.

My greatest epiphany to this day was when I took one lick I was working on diligently with a metronome and tried to integrate it into a random chord progression. That was when I realized I didn't need to know everything to sound musical. I didn't need more than that one lick to sound like I knew what I was doing. I can start this lick at any point in the bar, do whatever I want to it, and if I am in time and I end my execution of it properly, it will sound musical. This simple fact that sounds obvious now had escaped me for so long! It turned my practice time into something extremely enjoyable - I started taking any lick I was working on and integrating it into whatever chord progressions I could find/think of. What came out wasn't great, wasn't even good, but it was musical!!! I finally have something to go on!

Looking back, a teacher would have probably saved me all that frustration, but it feels so much more valuable to me that I've managed to figure this out on my own. Practice has become awesome, I'm relaxed and I'm making something new (however good or bad it might be) every time I pick up my guitar. It finally feels like I'm saying something!

I'm still not taking any lessons, I try to learn from YouTube, mostly technique, and I think it's really cool to hear opinions and instruction on the same topic from multiple guitar teachers. These days I'm working on the licks from the guitar solo of Time by Pink Floyd. The hardest things for me now are bending in tune, bending close to the neck (3rd string, 4th fret up two semitones, that took me weeks to get down, but now that I can do it, it's not always in tune) and deciding how I want my vibrato to sound. I play every day for at least 5 minutes, but most days I pick up the guitar and spend 1 hour practicing easily.

The road to true improvisation is one that I'll stay on for the rest of my life, but now the clouds seem to have gone away and the path is a nice walk in the summer through a green, welcoming forest.

Sorry, bit long, I hope it helps beginners like me.

Edit: One sample I could provide to prove the point of taking a short lick, learning it fluently then manipulating it to your will would be https://soundcloud.com/diana-ionita-179227007/audioblog-4-abandoned-cottage - I'm particularly happy with this weird piece of whatever because I used only 1 lick and somehow managed to improvise a story - it sort of ends prematurely because I got scared of continuing and ruining it. Now I think I ruined it by not continuing. You can hear the original lick at 00:25 to 00:29.
Last edited by dia0369 at Dec 7, 2016,