Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…
“Good morning, Dan,
I am having a concern that I am falling too far behind in my learning. I seem to be stuck with learning where the strings are for finger picking. My fingers keep losing track of the G, B, and high E string. I’m either too high and hit the D string or too low and miss the high E string.
Do you have any suggestions as to how to learn the position of my hand relative to the three strings? I tried anchoring my hand with my pinkey finger but I still keep wandering too high or too low, I’m 75 years old and maybe I just take longer to catch on.”
First up, don’t worry too much about falling behind. Most people rush too much and have to catch up with the basics later.
It’s far better to go at your own pace and do things properly.
For Len, like it is for everyone, it’s imperative he sorts this out.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can do to help:
1 – Breathe deeply and make sure you’re not full of tension as you play – it’s especially important to relax your picking arm here.
2 – Focus on playing open strings for a while and only look at your picking hand.
3 – Try plucking each string over and over using one finger, e.g., pluck the G string with the index finger.
4 – Stay relaxed, focus on accuracy and repeat while closing your eyes.
5 – If you ever lose your position, try not to look but touch the outside strings (the low and high E) and feel your way back into position using spatial awareness.
Once you can do the above, with enough repetition, muscle memory will take over.
Focus on the above for 5 minutes per day (multiple times during the day if you can) and relax as you do it.
Considering how much effort and time one puts into learning to play the guitar, one can understand how disappointed a player gets when there is no recognition from family and friends…
I have some family visiting from down under and showed my son-in-law one or two patterns that I could do.
The following morning, I spent almost an hour perfecting a pattern for “Lying Eyes” (The Eagles) and went downstairs to demonstrate to the family, only to be told that they had already seen me playing the previous evening – and my wife supported this.
I was so put off that I returned the guitar to its stand and left for work.
The sad thing is that family and friends have no idea how much time, effort and even expense goes into learning the guitar. Of course, one plays for one’s own enjoyment, but all artists want to show off their talent. It’s what creativity is all about.
Enjoy your emails”
There are a couple of things that are important to mention here.
One is that Peter is right, “musical muggles” (meaning non-musicians) usually have absolutely no idea what it takes to play an instrument.
Most of them think it’s easy because the pros they see make it look easy (but even the pros all struggled at first).
Getting appreciation for honing your musical craft from them is as likely as The Rolling Stones doing a cover of “Baby Shark”.
Secondly, when playing for others, we want to throw out some lollipops (not sure if this is only a British term, but if it isn’t, a “lollipop” is candy on a stick).
Musically, a lollipop is a little fun, recognisable piece of music that is simple enough to play but is famous and enjoyable. You only need a few of these, but it’s definitely worth having them in your locker for when family and friends are around.
Simple riffs work great for this.
The Fingerstyle Collection course is a good place for these. Not only does it contain 18 complete fingerstyle songs you can learn over the next few weeks, months, and years, but it contains 5 fun starter “lollipop” melodies that you can learn within a short time of playing.
These are perfect for having fun, building confidence, and impressing others.
…And they are far better to play to others than strumming a song no one recognises – only to be disappointed by the audience’s lukewarm reaction (which sadly happens too often).
Anyway, you can find out more below.
Enjoy your Wednesday…
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.