Guitar Noises #32: May 11, 2022
Paul, I think your articles are great and nicely written. Interestingly, I am the guitar player you discuss as your target. Can play a few things moderately well. For those who can’t play well, they would think I was pretty decent. The problem is as you describe… I’ve been playing the same things for 30 years, so I recently decided I didn’t want to be that “noodler” type of player anymore. I set about trying to understand where my real gaps were, and this is what I found…
Biggest gaps of beginner/intermediate:
1) Knowledge - Internalizing the fretboard, knowing all the notes without having to think about it
2) Timing - developing and understanding time - lack of strong counting and rhythm skills
3) Mindset - getting frustrated with never being able to play like you really want to
4) Plan - beginning with the end in mind, what’s missing to get where you want to go
5) Technique - You get the big ideas, but need refinement - little things that make all the difference.
6) Practice - How did the best get so good? In detail…
7) Expectations - Knowing what is possible and realistic.
8) Theory - Once you have the fundamentals nailed, then you can apply the theory
I think Jake Lizzio is on to something, as you noted in your article about his Signals Rhythm Course for Guitar. He takes one of the topics above and goes deep. Too many courses out there try to be everything to everyone, all in one course. That’s not a strategy for mastery, it’s a strategy for creating several million beginners.
A suggestion, if you haven’t read Mindset, by Carol S Dweck, I would strongly suggest it. Followed by Grit, by Angela Duckworth. These two books are all about the why and how to achieve what your audience seeks. Few talk about these topics or understand them well. They were game changing reads for me and apply perfectly.
Just my thoughts… hope it’s helpful!
I *was* your target audience (long-time beginner struggling to get to intermediate) until a year ago. I think I've purchased pretty much all of the popular online courses and books in my search for instruction that resonates with me. I was stuck at the late-beginner stage for several years. Ended using a patchwork of various online courses to break out of the rut. I had the most success from a combination of adapting bass guitar online video courses to guitar and from a few jazz guitar courses, specifically David Beebee's "Pathway to Jazz" course, and Richie Zellon's "Bebop Guitar Improv" course.
At first glance, the jazz courses would seem to be too advanced for a late-beginner. However, what they did was reveal what I *didn't* know as solidly as I should:
*notes across the fretboard
*triad and pentatonic shapes within the CAGED shapes
*the 42 interval shapes
*the CAGED shapes intervallically
I am often frustrated when an instructor says something like: "Spend a couple of weeks learning the notes on the fretboard." with no prescribed blueprint for doing so. I often found myself breaking down the week's lesson into a series of mini-lessons that I could master over three or four days. Giving someone enough to work on for a week is too long a period and usually too much. Three or four days is more reasonable and achievable, and is a pace that creates momentum and a sense of accomplishment.
Both the bass courses and the jazz guitar courses emphasized the practical use of theory through visualizing the fretboard as interval patterns. David Beebee and Tom Quayle even have an app (called "Solo") that helps you master intervallic patterns.
Paul Wolfe's bass courses and Richie Zellon's improv course emphasize the use of devices, common bits of musical vocabulary that comes up over and over again in music. This was a game changer for me.
The book and website "Improvise for Real" provides the best ear training course I've experienced. I'm still working my way through the material, but their approach, which emphasizes working with sounds over recognizing intervals, has really improved my ear.
I would now rate myself as a solid intermediate player, on track to be an advanced player in 2-3 years. It took a lot of time and money to cobble together a path to get from beginner to intermediate. If you can create a course (or series of courses) that can help streamline that process, my hat's off to you.
I am an example of your target audience. I am basically a complete beginner (I paid for Justin Guitar app for a few months and was consistent) with only a few chords that I feel comfortable with. I am really looking for a roadmap I can follow and learn at my own pace. Clear goals on when to move to the next lesson are essential for me. Interspersed throughout lessons, I'd like to learn something "fun", like a song or technique, to keep things interesting. I can only schedule around 20 mins a day to practice, but I find that I can do this daily, and not get burnt out. I'm a firm believer of slow progress over time.
As a complete beginner, I am willing to be a test dummy for whatever course you have in mind.
Paul, one thing to consider when building this course is an effective practice program for each lesson. Practice is purposeful playing. Often it is not outlined in detail to allow a fairly smooth skill acquisition. This could mean a schedule that would have 2-3 20 minute sessions for the first 3 days and up to 45 minutes by the end of the week. Each lesson should a complete practice plan and a skill maintenance plan. Learning new skills is not a race. It is a journey of discovery. Good luck. Steve McCombs
I might be interested Paul. I am giving lessons to beginners, intermediate and advance players.
My hurdles are:
1. As you mentioned, i have been stuck at the same level for a long time and struggle to get past my plateau.
2. I don’t have a goal or a target to shoot for.
3. I don’t have people to play with, and without people to play with my playing stagnates. Thus comments 1 and 2.
My biggest struggle with progressing beyond the absolute beginner has been the physicality of playing the guitar; fretting hand wrist angle, positioning of the left hand to make playing as easy as possible etc. I think these are the things an in-person teacher would pick up on, but I've not been in a position to take lessons. I'd like to see a course for the self taught guitarist that had a focus on these sorts of issues.
Sounds exactly like what i am looking for
All the best with this project Paul - it's a big undertaking to present a new guitar course that hasn't got students saying "already been there, done that". It's been my experience that the guitar students I teach in class, want to be able to make music period, as soon as possible. Melody notes embedded within basic open chords as found in current popular songs (not too many nursery rhymes please) are what they enjoy learning most and are what will hold their interest longest as they tackle advanced skills. Just my 2 cents worth.... Looking forward to what you create! Looks like you've got a good foundation to start with. :)
I am a lifelong dabbler, progressing in fits and starts. I want to play songs for myself and others. I'm mainly into accoustic music. Too of ten I find that sites are skill heavy without any helpful guidance on what do do with them. At this stage, I need to be held by the hand and gently pushed along. I thought that the "Skills Every Intermediate Guitar Player Needs" would provide an excellent place to start.
Good luck with your venture I agree with you on what is needed