Explain something to me about guitar instruction

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by patentcad, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

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    I played with a couple of 17 year old guys this summer and faced pretty much the same scenario. They could play what songs they knew but were bewildered at any attempts to wing it or pick up on tunes they didn't know. One kid had a couple of his own tunes and played in a band but neither seemed to have a basic grasp on song structure or moving around the fretboard. It was strange.
     
  2. geetarplayer

    geetarplayer Member

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    I had the same kind of experience with a kid. It was a youth band. He had an electric. While we were setting up, he was playing some riffs of rock songs and such. Sounded awesome. Then I handed out the charts, and started into practicing as a band, and he could not play a single song. Didn't know the chords by name, and when I showed him the 3 chords of a given song, so he'd know them at least for that song, he couldn't play it in a rhythmic way that fit the song.

    As we were packing up, he was really frustrated, and mumbled something like "Call me when you want to start a rock band". As if that meant this music is lame, and I know how to play rock music (as long as it is these exact songs that I've memorized the riffs for). Arghghg.
     
  3. Grun

    Grun Member

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    I haven't read most of the replies, but citing my daughter who is a classically trained flautist and pianist as an example, I share a certain amount of your frustration. She can play rings around me technically, however has difficulty 'jamming' over even a 2 chord vamp as you mentioned.
    I think it is rooted in lack of appreciation of the blues and jazz idioms where improvisation is integral to the construct. However I would also note that the band and orchestral groups she performs with at school and elsewhere (she is a college music major) pretty much blow the socks off any 2 chord blues. Likewise at the piano with a sonata or any of a number of classical/contemporary pieces.

    Can your guys read music and/or charts? How would you make out if someone put a difficult piece of sheet music in front of you?
     
  4. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    this isnt a case of classical musician who cant hold a blues/rock rythm down these are kids that play blues rock but cant play simple blues.


    sounds like TAB-itis they have except they have been taking lessons for 10 years which makes no sense at all.
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Agreed.

    While many of the greats (Beethoven, Mozart) could improvise, classically trained musicians typically learn pieces, not improv. We're talking about rock and pop.

    Most gtrists need to play in ensembles without sheet music which means they need to know the names of chords, basic rhythms, common progressions and if they play solos, what scales work.

    Guys with giant ears are the exception but they'd be better off knowing both approaches IMO.
     
  6. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    I've taught guitar and bass for twenty years. Here are my thoughts:

    Some students simply don't have it. You can usually tell within the first couple lessons. You know in your heart this student will never get anywhere. Still, green is green and you soldier on until and do your best with them until they finally give up.

    Other students don't even really want to play. Guitar for them is something that mom scheduled between karate and boy scouts. They only time they practice is the time they spend each week with me. Still, green is green and you soldier on until and do your best with them until they finally give up.

    With students of average ability, the most difficult and important thing to teach, the most basic foundation that has to be built, is timing. I start working on timing the first lesson, and never really stop. Timing is everything. Making chords and playing scales is really just target practice, and will come eventually to any student of average ability that practices. It is timing that makes what they play sound like music.

    After that I focus on learning songs. I have a hierarchy of songs with increasing difficulty that I take each student through to master basic chords, scales, and playing techniques.

    Once we get through that I start tailoring the lessons the fit each student's goals. For some that means theory, learning to jam, etc. Others aren't interested in theory and just want to continue learning songs. I do that for them, and work in theory where I can as part of it. Even for this group, after a decade I would hope to have given them at least a passing knowledge of theory.

    Every now and then you get a student that really gets it. It's very rare and getting rarer, however. There are just too many entertainment options for kids these days. Finding kids devoted single-mindedly to learning the guitar is becoming very rare.
     
  7. thedroid

    thedroid Member

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    Remembering what it's like to be 16, I'd say it's also possible that they didn't want to "jam" on tunes they didn't know with a friend of their dad's.
     
  8. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    A lot of teachers don't teach the theory (math, progressions, intervals, etc.) anymore.

    To us, hearing a I, IV, V progression is very basic, but if those kids never understood what they were hearing, then it's all Greek to them.

    I once sat in with a band and I told them it was a I, IV, V song in the key of A, and they asked what the other two chord were.
     
  9. patentcad

    patentcad Member

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    That was not the case here. They were quite eager. They didn't know how to do it. I asked them if they knew some simple chord progressions and all they seemed to know were parts from guitar bits. And they didn't know how to solo.
     
  10. voodoochile

    voodoochile Member

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    ...yet lack of basics limits their own potential, and ability to collaborate. Riddle me that Batman.

     
  11. badhorsie551

    badhorsie551 Member

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    Just because someone has been playing for 10 years doesn't mean they have been playing for 10 years.

    Alot of times they just want to learn particular parts of songs or guitar solo parts. I have "taught" several kids who just want to do certain things and skip entire concepts of the guitar.

    I had one kid who wanted to be able to do sweep picking but couldnt even play basic chords.
     
  12. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Hold on...have they never learned a song, as it was recorded, so they could play along?
    Have they never wanted to learn a song and picked up a guitar book with a sheet music transcription including chords, tabs, and notation?
    Have they never tried accompany even their own selves, to sing along, or play with anybody else?:huh
     
  13. patentcad

    patentcad Member

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    It was a bit strange. I didn't push it too hard, I figured when I started playing a slow temp I-IV-V blues they'd jump right in, and they both didn't get it, so I sort of let it go.
     
  14. TheRobe

    TheRobe Member

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    Look on the bright side..they can still become doctors and lawyers with basements full of Private Stocks and Vintage Super Leads they don't know how to play.
     
  15. oldtelefart

    oldtelefart Member

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    I could have written this post word-for-word from my own experience.
    Nowadays I have 1-2 students who are serious about it. I couldn't carry on doing 10-15 kids every week, most of whom didn't practice at all, many of whom didn't want to be there (Mom thought they should learn an instrument.)
    The money was handy, but it was a mental drag.

    Edit: I just worked out that from my last 10 years teaching, 2 students are well on their way as real players. Both had some natural talent, were determined and worked hard. Both also did as much jamming as possible with more experienced guys. Playing on your own doesn't get you there.
     
  16. BluesFan

    BluesFan Member

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    This is my first post in this neighborhood here it goes. I was once one of those kids. Wasted several years doing just what this is about. Discovered girls and... stuff... got board and quit. Started Playing again about five years ago at 51 and am on fire. Have a teacher that is half my age and did what I should have done way back when. Timing. Scales. Major, minor, progression. Stay in tune. Playn what I feel not like a monkey. Hopefully some of them will get it.
     
  17. Tycho

    Tycho Member

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    I've always considered my generation of guitarists very lucky that our early teen years coincided with the golden age of jammy blues-rock in the early '70s. That's not necessarily what I play now, but playing it then really taught me my way around the fretboard. (I still remember the moment at the age of 13 when I suddenly realized that there was such a thing as the blues progression and that you could play it in any key, and that made it possible to play every old 50s rock 'n' roll song I could think of.)

    Today's kids don't listen to that kind of music, so they don't get that experience.
     
  18. mediocreplayer

    mediocreplayer Member

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    I think that about sums it up. Some people don't care about jamming. Even further, they don't care about understanding how music works. However, they do enjoy whatever they are doing, and it is not unusual to find amongst them some who can write awesome songs and nice melodies.

    Different objectives, that's all. There is no reason to learn the scales and modes if soloing is not something you are interested in. It was a crucial ingredient of the music of the past, but many forms today do not require it.
     
  19. Lephty

    Lephty Member

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    As a teacher, one problem I run into with younger kids is that they haven't even HEARD songs like "Feelin' Alright". They don't know what a 12-bar blues sounds like, and they don't what a decent guitar solo sounds like. These things are just not present in most popular music.

    When I was a kid I heard Clapton, Zeppelin, the Stones, etc. on the radio, and my reaction was "I want to learn how to do THAT." It inspired me. There isn't much happening in popular music right now that would inspire a kid to pick up the guitar. You can count the good guitar players in current pop music on one hand (and probably not even need all of the fingers). I try to point them in the right directions but it's a crapshoot whether or not they'll be interested.
     
  20. patentcad

    patentcad Member

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    Yep, that's the landscape. Oh well. The kids that really want to play will figure it out eventually. It was fascinating to see that one kid's reaction when I showed him what was possible when you played pentatonics over chord changes, and then the different feel a major pentatonic lead had from a minor pentatonic lead over the same A chord, and how cool it sounds when you start to mix them up. Then I played him some chord changes and pointed out that the same thing that makes some songs sound cool (say an A to F#m chord progression that brings together a major chord and its relative minor) is the musical reason BB King's guitar solos sound cool. It's all the same stuff, once you start learning that, it's not really that hard to start playing cool lines on your guitar leads. Just takes a while to learn the stuff and learn how to apply it. Hell, took me years, but I knew from early on how I could do it. Now so does he.

    I don't really know how that stuff would go over with most 15 year old guitar students, maybe not so great (it seemed to click with this very smart kid), maybe most of these kids want to ape guitar lines from classic rock and that's it.

    I'm 55, I'm still really learning, the more you learn about this the cooler it gets and the better you play. It's easy to play the guitar. It's hard to play it well.
     

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