Hello Vera, how about an update?


“Vera” of course being my trusty beginners guitar.

I was still  trying to practice my fingering and chord transitions at least an hour everyday before I met up with Girl B. But I will confess Vera got ignored pretty much that entire week, cause you know, there was something else I was finge… errr never mind 😛 (TMI? *grin*)

But learning guitar on your own is a tricky business there are a million stupid questions that you need answers to, that having someone tell you over the phone what to do or watching videos on YouTube, just really can’t answer.

This is a piano… wait wait… guitar… damn it! Fail already… 😛

For example, there are a few videos that suggest a more technical approach. You get each chord right first. Play each string to ensure that your fingers are only touching the strings they’re supposed to and that you’re applying enough force. Once you get that chord right, you move on to the next. And so on.

Another video suggested a more relaxed approach, where you don’t actually strum the guitar, but merely practice the changeover from one chord to another. This means that muscle memory will take over and you will be able to transition from one chord to another more smoothly and therefore be able to mangle  play songs faster.

What no one seemed to tell me, is that it boils down to how YOU the individual learns. It took me a couple of weeks to realise that I do a helluva lot better when I mix these two styles of learning together. I play a chord, make sure I got my fingers where they’re supposed to be, then change to another and play that (which by the way usually sounds like “do re me thunk thunk  do”) Then I try to get that right then transition back. Back and forth, back and forth. It works for me.

Another issue slash stupid question. There are some transitions that I just can’t do smoothly. E minor to F major to be exact.

This is E-minor

This is F-major

Now, separately I can play them. But every time I go from E minor to F, there’s an awkward space of seconds while I put my fingers down. No matter how much I practised, I just couldn’t get it down smoothly.

Then the music gods last night took pity on the blood offerings my fingers were making to honour them, and provided me with a revelation.

The problem was I was concentrating on getting each finger down on each string one at a time when playing F major. What I have to do is practice getting ALL fingers down at the same time! Simple right? Anyone who plays guitar would’ve been able to spot that mistake like 2 months ago, but of course my teacher is a little stupid (and here’s where I have to remind you I’m teaching my self so you get that joke…) but I am excited about working that out, even though it seems inanely obvious. I’ve been practising for a couple of hours and I can definitely hear less awkward pauses.

Hurrah for Vera!

Next step… actually learning a song…

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11 responses to “Hello Vera, how about an update?

  1. Great job! Reminds me of when I was trying to teach myself piano/keyboard. (Which I *really* need to get back to.) Each teacher with a video or book has their own opinion about how you must learn to play, or be forever banished to music hell. Eventually, I too figured out I learned faster by mixing learning styles. Take that, experts! You aren’t so expert after all (when it comes to teaching)! Good luck with Vera!

    • Thanks! That’s why if I ever go to a professional guitar teacher guru person thingy, I’m going to have to take them out and have a beer with them and become friends, so then if they’re trying to teach me in a way that just isn’t resonating, I can just go “Duuuuuuude, this is like totally harshing my buzz” or something to that effect in the language of guitarists 😛

  2. Shane Peltzer

    Fantastic! – If you check my blog I have a category called “Guitar Progress” that has exactly one post. In my experience you have to be dedicated, patient and not too hard on yourself and just to have fun with it and not make it feel like a chore. That was my problem, I have perfectist qualities so it’s an all or nothing sort of thing with me. Good luck and I look forward to reading your blog some more. 😀

    • Seriously??? You’re learning too?? Awesome! Guitar learning buddies! I’m pretty much the same as you (with the whole perfectionist thing) but it’s more playing for other people. Not one human being will hear me play until I can actually play well (which may be never… but oh well, I didn’t pick up the guitar for anyone else :)) I’ll definitely be coming over to your blog.

      • Shane Peltzer

        Oh god, playing for people? That is stomache pain enducing lol. I haven’t picked it up for over a year after the whole “D” chord debacle. Come for the guitar post, stay for the rest lol.

  3. I always wanted to learn to play the guitar. Until I heard you get calluses on your fingers. Is that true?

    • Tis true Thoughts. But it’s not as bad as you think (well it isn’t for me yet, maybe those who have been playing for years might be different, I’ve only been playing a couple of months) The tips of your fingers just get tougher. It’s not like its rhino skin or anything.

  4. I can only imagine learning to play an actual instrument, reading music is hard enough for me already hence why I didn’t continue the class during school.

  5. To learn piano/keyboard. Buy a beginners piano book. Start playing. Go Ing Up, Go Ing Down, Then A Skip. C, D, E, E, D, C, D, E, C. Then on day, be sitting at the piano, totally goofing off and playing random stuff, and realize you just figured out the melody line to on of the Star Wars theme song.

    I tried to teach myself the guitar. In high school. With my dad’s guitar. I was horrible. My hands were, and still are, too small for an adult’s guitar.

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