I’ve practiced guitar every day for the last 50 days. The guitar is a tricky beast. There’s a lot of ways to approach learning and progress is often slow. For example, I was doing speed drills for a month before I saw any progress at all. I wanted to give the other parts of my routine enough time to where I was sure I could do a good assessment. Here’s my thoughts.
Definitely the successful part of this endeavor. Absolutely nothing was getting faster (I used a metronome to measure progress) for the first few weeks.
Then I began going really slowly and turning up the treble so that I could hear every little imperfection. I paid more attention to what I was doing than I ever had. It was hard and boring. But I found spots that my fingers were fumbling in small ways (which matter when you are trying to go fast). I found the toughest intervals and repeated them over and over, mostly slowly and occasionally tried to go as fast as I could. And I did this for a few days each time I identified some messiness in my playing. Now these errors weren’t obvious in any real way (to me, at least) but they were there and it took slowing it down, identifying the potholes, experimenting with fixes to the potholes and then drilling them into motor memory to get them fixed. Advice I had heard a hundred times before. But I finally decided to use it.
Using TrueFire.com to Practice.
TrueFire.com has loads of lessons and tools to use. I had been going through videos of some licks, slowing them down, looping them, reading the tab to get it right, watching the teachers hands, listening to the lesson (at first without even holding the guitar in my hands in order to pay closer attention).
These strategies had diminishing returns. I think mainly because the video that I got “stuck” on at the end was one that took all the previous licks and mixed them up in a long song. I spent way too much time trying to remember which lick was next and had to constantly stop the video. Learning the order of a video’s licks really doesn’t help much but I was spending lots of time on it. With all the stopping and starting it was hard to really get into the feeling of playing. Many of the licks had variations and I spent a lot of time on tedium.
To get through the tedium, I fell into mindless habits of “put fingers here. Now here.” Because of that, I didn’t come away with a great understanding of what intervals or notes I was playing.
Things I Like About TrueFire
I liked the ability to loop licks easily, to see the teacher play from different angles, to have the tablature, the teacher was good and personable. I think the site is a great place to find licks and explanations of why things work. I enjoyed listening ot musicians talk about their approach to writing
I’m going to take a very different tact. Since my ultimate goals are write songs and play songs with people I’m going to do two things:
- Write Songs. I can hear the solos I want in my head. So why not just see if I can get them out of my head?
- Listen to songs I like that have solos or licks I like and learn them. THEN dissect them and why they work. I won’t have access to the looping, but I can create that on my laptop or just do it in my head because I’ve memorized the part.
- Continue speed drills and slowing things down to clean things up.
I’ll give this a couple weeks, making minor changes as needed and then do a full assessment in a couple weeks.