Whenever someone tells me they’ve been struggling for decades to play any sort of song, my heart sinks a little for them.
And sadly, this situation is not that uncommon.
There are many guitarists out there who have tried learning the guitar on and off again so many times.
A lot of these guitarists started in the old days when there were fewer guitars to choose from and tuition was limited.
I used to teach a student called Paul, who is a top bloke.
He once brought a guitar in for me to look at.
It was a really old guitar he learnt on in the ‘60s.
He was fond of this guitar for sentimental reasons and got it set up, but when he played it, it was still brutally tough.
The guitar was a nice one to look at, but it was terrible to play.
(In fact, he has a modern Squier too, which was 10x easier to play).
So that meant in the past Paul had to “battle” to play this other guitar.
This meant sore fingers, lots of pressure (and therefore physical and mental fatigue) and bad habits.
…But not only that, he told me he spent all his time trying to learn and master chords and a few scales (because that’s what most books and tutors encouraged – even today they often do the same).
So, with the battling of the guitar and the constant fighting of trying to play chords, the guitar became too much.
He gave up.
Years later, he tried again, but then he gave up again.
This cycle continued until five decades or so after he first started playing, he rang me up for lessons.
His life and the world had changed so much in that time.
A great career, kids, a few more grey hairs, retirement, and a granddaughter later, he was ready to try again.
So, what did we do to break the cycle?
Well, for starters, it was not doing the same thing as he did before.
We did the opposite, in fact.
I made sure Paul practised on his Squier guitar…
…Got him focusing hard on playing with super light technique (and good all-round technique)…
…And we mostly avoided chords for a while.
Instead, we focused on playing fun, one-string melodies.
We would play famous tunes where he would pluck the instantly recognisable melody.
I would strum the chords to fill out the sound, and we would have a good old jam.
The thing is, this is fun, but it works so many skills while helping a student improve.
When you play melodies, you’ll improve your musicality, rhythm, fretting hand accuracy, picking hand fluency, both hands coordination, and more.
Melodies test your memory too, which is great for brain health.
Plus, you’ll be able to play tunes which people recognise and build your confidence.
I still enjoy playing simple melodies like this to this day.
If you want to learn some fun melodies, you might want to check out my ‘1-Minute Melodies’ eBook. I’ve released this as a bonus a few times over the last year and it’s good fun.
You can get this bonus in my eBook bundle.
Until tomorrow night it’s on sale below.
All hail the power of melodies!
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.