Welcome to a new Monday post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including, “the horror”, five senses, and bad teachers.
Here we go…
#1 – “The horror, the horror”
One of my all-time favourite movies is Apocalypse Now.
There’s the famous scene with Marlon Brando sitting in half silhouette talking about war.
He eerily utters the words “the horror, the horror” and it’s a very cool moment in the movie.
Well, I’ve rather humourlessly (at least to myself) said this line out loud to myself when playing guitar.
When might you wonder?
Precisely when I pick up my guitar, strum a chord, only to hear the thing is woefully out of tune.
(Having a 6-year-old son messing with the tuning pegs usually has something to do with this!)
When it’s really out of tune, it’s horrific and Marlon Brando would be cursing to the high heavens about it.
…But even a slightly out-of-tune guitar is not fun to play.
It can nag away at you quietly.
You know something’s wrong and being slightly out of tune kills the vibe.
So, it’s a good reminder to tune up each time you pick up your guitar.
It makes a difference, but as humans, we can all sometimes be a bit lazy about this!
#2 – The five senses
A lot of people play guitar with their “eyes”.
What I mean by that is that they use their eyes as the primary tool to check they are playing notes and chords properly.
This is useful, of course, but there are five senses in total.
I much prefer students use their sense of touch and hearing before they use their eyes.
Of course, you can’t really use your sense of smell and taste when playing guitar, that would just be weird, but you can use touch and hearing.
With your eyes, you can only look at one hand at a time when playing guitar…
…but you can always hear what both hands are playing.
…And you can always feel what both hands are doing.
If you shut down your reliance on using your eyes when you play, you will heighten your sense of hearing and touch.
It’s a subtle but powerful tip.
#3 – Why strumming can be bad
Here’s something that bugs me.
It’s the fact that many guitar teachers focus on strumming far too much with beginners.
I find this surprising.
Don’t get me wrong, strumming is a big part of guitar playing.
…But why, oh why, do teachers force strumming songs down the throats of beginners in the very early days?
I mean, to be able to play one single strumming song well, you need all of these skills in check:
…Clear chords, smooth changes, good strumming technique, a pleasant tone, solid rhythm skills, coordination, and if you’re a singer, the ability to sing and strum at the same time.
That requires a lot of effort and often, a lot of time.
It’s no wonder when the guitar is taught like that, that most beginners quit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love strumming, but for an absolute beginner learning guitar, there are other things you can do which are more fun than painfully trying to strum in the early days.
This includes some of the things you’ll learn in this course below:
There’s always a place for strumming, of course, but for beginners or those struggling, it should definitely not be priority number 1.
Anyway, those are my random thoughts.
I hope you enjoyed them, keep having fun with your practice, and have a great day with your guitar!
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.