Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…
In regard to a rant I sent last week about many guitarists and teachers downplaying how hard guitar is to learn, here is what Chris said in reply:
“Amen to that, Dan! Absolutely agree with every word you wrote there!
I am 55, I bought my 1st guitar when I was 18 – I wasn’t a serious player, knew about 4 chords and never properly got into it.
As you so rightly say, the guitar is bloody hard to learn. My grandfather was a top jazz pianist in the 50s and 60s, he’d got to grade 8 in the piano at a young age and could play anything. He decided to learn guitar at one point and just couldn’t do it, he said it was too hard!
I play most days, just for myself and am slowly improving. Today, with the help of my Boss RC1 loop station, I played some very jazzy lead for the 1st time ever and am still buzzing about it – it is not perfect but when I realised I could run around high up the fretboard and make it sound pretty damn good, a massive feeling of joy, discovery & just sheer enjoyment filled me up!
Thanks for your rant, mate – totally resonated with me!
Cheers for now”
Great to hear from Chris about this.
Nice that he is improving and making progress.
Really interesting point too about his jazz piano-playing, Grade 8 grandfather struggling with guitar.
Guitar is a really technically demanding instrument.
Just to fret and pluck one note with good technique and a nice tone is hard at first and some people struggle with this for many years (until they get taught and apply proper technique).
With the piano, you can get a nice tone and clear note right from the off by hitting any key!
It is pretty hard to play a note on the piano and make it buzz or sound dead after all!
It is mad really (not knocking piano, it has its own tricky elements of course).
Anyway, I digress, great work Chris on making the progress and keeping at it.
It is really wonderful to hear.
Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy member, Scott, gives me a 6-month update on how he’s doing…
It’s been six months since I decided to learn guitar and was lucky enough to stumble across your Fingerpicking 101 book straightaway.
I find myself applying your “essentials” every single day to improve my skills and tone. And thanks to that, this journey is taking off faster than a billionaire in a rocket ship. (And I set high expectations to begin with.)
I found myself adapting your essentials in some unexpected ways, to great effect.
Light Pressure: I found this applies to the picking hand as well; a super-light touch with all fingertips greatly improves tone consistency across the strings. My thumb was deadening one of the bass strings on Travis patterns and some treble fingers were louder than others. So, I lifted my palm up much further from the strings and shazam – everything got much clearer. One simple change made a huge difference.
Using the Mind’s Eye: My fingers apparently hate being stared at. So I started closing my eyes while playing a song or progression and using my mind’s eye to “stare” at the fretting hand. Since then, I’ve gotten much better at anticipating and nailing next-chord finger placement. Also, I can now hear and feel the mistakes as they happen and I’m starting to make adjustments on the fly – without actually looking in most cases.
Fretting Thumb Arthritis: By getting more precise with lighter-touch fretting hand string placements, I finally found a way to use my thumb behind the neck that eliminates the play-stopping arthritis pain. So no more bulky hand brace or topical pain relievers – neither of which really worked anyway. Plus, I can play for much longer than before.
Barre Chords: Fingerpicking exposes every fretting hand flaw I can come up with, which really helps diagnose string buzz and other tonal problems. Fixing them, of course, is another matter…that’s still a work in progress.
Anyway, thanks again for all your guidance and support. It’s great fun to practice with purpose and hear the improvements week to week.”
I am lucky I get a lot of nice emails, and for me personally, that is one of the best I have had for a while.
I really love it when students take what I teach and run with it.
Where they take the lessons and explore new avenues and find out little things and big discoveries for themselves.
To be the absolute best musician you can be, you need to not only find the best lessons for you but…
You also need to take those lessons and see if you can apply them in different ways.
Use the lessons, try them in different situations, and see how they can be applied wherever.
Doing so is like discovering new guitar worlds.
That is the power of self-exploration, and it is something Scott has done that is wonderful to see.
Speaking of which, this week I have the new course out teaching the 12-Bar Blues Shuffle.
This course is a small course that is a perfect example of the things I saw Scott do, where to get the best out of it you need to be adaptable, patient, and really get stuck in.
If you have that desire, check it out below where it is half price for now.
Thanks to everyone who emails, by the way.
I love to read them all even if I don’t always get a chance to reply to everyone.
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.