Guitar   Leave a comment

[Obligatory G-string joke]

So yesterday I got my guitar out. Again. I do it every few years, when something reminds me that I wish I were able to play music, and then get distracted or discouraged and forget about it again. The problem with learning the guitar is it requires practice, manual dexterity and memory. If there are three things for which I’m exceptionally ill-suited, they’re practice, manual dexterity and memory. So you can see why I took it up.

When I was a student I managed to reach the point where I was merely rubbish. That doesn’t sound much, but it’s actually quite an achievement – give a guitar to somebody who’s never played and they might not even be able to figure out how to hold it, let alone finger a simple open D chord. I could more-or-less strum along to a few songs and play the occasional solo, in my ham-fisted, inconsistent manner. (That’s another thing guitar playing requires – consistency. Hitting the right note even four times out of five isn’t good enough. By amazing coincidence, it’s another thing at which I’m hopeless.)

But this time, it’ll be different. Stop laughing, I don’t mean the getting distracted in three weeks thing, although I *have* removed the arm-rests from my chair so I can practice easily, and if that’s not commitment I don’t know what is.

What I mean is the realisation that, all the previous times, I’ve not been trying to learn to play the guitar. I’ve been learning to strum along to a few songs and play the occasional solo. It’s the difference between learning a language and a parrot imitating the right noises – once you learn a language you can build an infinite number of sentences; a parrot has to learn every noise in each one individually and doesn’t know what any of them mean.

So I realise I’ve got to learn things like scales, the notes of the fretboard (especially for the 5th and 6th strings, as they’re root notes for barre and power chords – how did I manage to miss that before?), chord shapes as opposed to specifically an F#m7, and probably some musical theory as well so I know what that 7 even means. That way I’ll understand what’s going on, and hopefully learning each song won’t be like starting from scratch any more.
On the bright side, it’s surprising how much is still programmed into my muscle-memory, even if those muscles have atrophied (I guess that’s the problem with it being your left hand), so I’m not starting from scratch when it comes to chords and things.

And It’s a good way to practice my fingering while I’m single.

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Posted 21 May 2011 by Colthor in Diary

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