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My Guitar Made Me Do It

My first guitar lesson was October, 31, 2010 and my last lesson was June 5, 2011 and they were every other week. I feel like I’ve learned a lot during that time period, however, I had some concerns during my lesson stretch and it was only after I stopped the lessons and began to scour the internet for resources that I found this site and I think it can help me remedy some of the issues I felt were going to keep me from becoming a good guitar player.

The problems: discomfort with just holding the guitar, left hand fatigue, inaccuracy and flyaway pinky. While I still have lots to learn on guitar, I feel like at this point holding the guitar should be comfortable and relaxed, my left hand should be relaxed and my finger tips able to land just behind the fret every time and my pinky should not be sticking up like I’m having tea. *Smile* The pinky issue for me is a big deal. Not having it lowered next to my other fingers makes changing chords and playing scales not as smooth. And the discomfort I was having with holding the guitar definitely kept me from practicing for as long as I wanted and I think it contributed to my left hand fatigue and inaccuracy.

I wrote this the above in my blog on june 27th. And since then I’ve gone back to what I was doing before I started taking lessons, i.e. wearing a guitar strap even when sitting down. I was told when I started lessons people don’t usually wear a strap when sitting down and I stopped wearing it. But I decided I need the strap even when sitting down. I’m pleasantly plump and I’m not going to spend my entire playing experience just trying to keep the guitar close to me or from sliding off my rounded leg. since going back to wearing the strap… What a difference!

Now I could work on the guitar principles. I could now raise my guitar neck where it should be, which made it much easier for my left hand to not only move easily without fatigue but I could also reach all the frets and hold my hand in the correct position. In addition, no more crazy pressure on my thumb (the pressure was horrible before because I was also using my thumb to hold the guitar on my lap).

Then I started playing everything I’ve learned so far nice and slow. I was doing this before because I wanted to be accurate but now I could really focus on a lot because I’d elimited the fatigue from just trying to hold the thing. I’m not sure if this is common but I feel no effects from wearing the strap. But I also play sitting in an armless wrought iron chair which gives my back a lot of support.

This was a lot longer than I wanted but basically, I bought a guitar and really wanted to learn how to play (I was one of those band kids back in the day and I played the entire clarinet family, the bassoon (yuck!), the valve trombone (yes they make these although they shouldn’t), and Tuba (my favorite instrument to play by far). I missed playing an instrument so I started playing trumpet a few years ago and decided to learn guitar as well.

Learning to play the guitar has been an amazing experience. Since I started learning, I’ve discovered that…

1. what I learned in the years from 7th grade to 12 grade while in band was nothing but mimicry. I didn’t realize how little I knew about music until I started learning guitar (actually I had a hint when I tried learning piano and abandoned it because I didn’t understand it). Yes, I can read music. Yes, I can play by ear. Yes, I knew all of my major and minor scales, arppegios and chords. But did I understand it? I didn’t. Perhaps the better question is did I understand what I could do with that information? And the answer was no, I didn’t understand.

2. Guitar forces you to understand music even when don’t want to. Well me anyway. I hear folks can get away with playing without understanding. But I want to know why I’m playing those strings in that order.

3. An even bigger treat for me is that because I’ve been forced to start understanding music, I can also play piano now. :)

On the side note, I discovered the other day, I can’t do vibrato and fingerpick at the same time. hahahaha I was trying to play “When the Children Cry” by White Lion and I had the fingerpicking rhythm going and everytime I tried to do vibrato on the melody notes, I messed up my fingerpicking. I thought that was pretty amusing. I’ll work on it.

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