that feeling of stop improving


3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
hi all,

I m sure this issue has been questioned a million time before but I still need some good advice.
I have been playing guitar for about 3 or 4 years, focusing mainly on my technical skills. To do so I always try to pick up songs that are challenging to me and work on them, just as guitartricks taught me. I break down the song, work on every piece, put all together and so on. I actually made a lot of progress this way but lately I m experiencing that bad feeling that even if I keep practicing 4 or 5 hours per day I just don't see myself improving.
I know this is a very common feeling but I just don't know how to handle this.
To be more specific I learned songs like sweet home Alabama, the wind cries mary, little wing, every breath you take, baby I m gonna leave you and others.. I know how to play them all and I can actually do it in a good way. However I still have the feeling that I don't master them, meaning I can play this songs in a decent way but still have to put some effort, even if I keep play them over and over. So I was wondering why is that, and what should I do? Should I just keep working on them till I can play this stuff without any effort "while watching the simpson" or should I try to moving on something more challenging? How do you behave in such situation?

Thank you in advance,
Davide
# 1
SebastBerg
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Joined: 02/01/10
Posts: 421
Small question. Do you know all those songs by heart in numbers ? What I mean is, do you know what you play or you just memorised the tab by heart ?
I'm asking that because when I started learning guitar in my teens thats what I was doing. I could play some relatively challenging songs but I had no idea what I was really playing.
I think that when you know what you play (that song is in A, that series of notes in the song are arppeggios of the A major chord and that lick is in B aeonian etc) it brings your playing to another level and you pick up and memorise song a lot faster. Everything becomes less "brainy" and it also enables you to improvise whenever you feel like it.
You can also make a "mistake" and nobody will notice since you can catch up and make it look like it was wanted by improvising a little around that "mistake" ;)
# 2
maggior
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Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
I'll expand on Seb's post...

I've gone through this and as you mention, everybody does at one point or another.

What has helped me is moving on and learning more songs and going through more lessons while still running through the songs I recently learned on a regular basis.

In private lessons years ago, I learned the Comfortably Numb solos. I couldn't play them to my satisfaction and couldn't "nail" them consistently. Once I started going through the lessons here and learing some songs, I found that in going back to these solos I could play them cleanly and consistently.

If I continued to just practice these solos themselves trying to nail them, I'd probably be in the same place.
# 3
3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
Hi Sebast,
thank you for your advice. Yes basically I play songs by ear and definitely need to get more music knowledge, also be able to improvise, which is something that I really miss. However I guess my question was a little more on how improve on technical skills, with my hands.
Sorry if I m missing something on your answer

Davide
# 4
3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
Thanks Maggior,
your answer is very clear
# 5
Slipin Lizard
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Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
Davide, what are you goals with your guitar playing? Why are you learning those songs you mentioned?
# 6
haghj500
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Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 453
3donkey,

Below are three links, they lead to some articles Wildwoman1313 has posted on the site. If you have not read them, I’m sure you will find something useful in each of them to help you over this stuck spot.

http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37902
http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39329
http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39200
# 7
3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
Slipin, quick answer, my goal is to become a great guitar player, just because I love the guitar. I don't care about be famous or all the b...its behind that, but I really want to learn to play to become a great guitar player. I know the journey is still long, and after all that is what makes the guitar so fascinating.
If I could make a living with it some day, that would be a dream.
# 8
Slipin Lizard
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Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
Ok, so do you envision yourself as a great guitar player who can play all styles, or is there a particular style of guitar playing that you're wanting to work towards? Think of all the styles of guitar out there... rock, blues, jazz, country, classical, folk, etc, and then all the sub-styles of play within those... pretty much an impossible task to master them all... so can you narrow it down a bit? Are there areas that you have a lot of interest in, others that you have no interest in at all (at least for now)?

Do you see yourself being in an original band, a cover band, being a studio musician, a session player for hire, a solo artist or.... ?

If you could play any type of music right now, what would it be? What would you do with your developed skill set if you had it at your finger tips right now?

Do you have some guitar heroes that you look up to? People that are a role model for the type of guitar player you want to be?

Answering these questions (and I'd love to hear your answers) should really help you define where you want to go with your guitar playing. Learning other people's songs is just one way to improve, and not necessarily the best way for everyone. Steve Vai didn't bother with learning other people's songs when he was learning guitar. He also has some pretty insightful ideas about learning guitar if you search around on YouTube for videos where he talks about it.

Once you can give a tighter definition of your goals, I can probably offer some more practical advice that may help. For instance, if you miss improvising, and loved making up your own solos (but are not doing it right now because you're focused on learning other people's songs) then I'd say quit focusing on other people's songs and get back to improvising... there's some really specific advice I'd give on how to do that, but I'd like to hear back from you first so that I know that the advice I'm giving is relative to your needs.
# 9
3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
Slipin Lizard, I would like to play rock and blues since that's the kind of music I like. Probably my main hero is Mark Knopfler, I also like Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, old Guns and Roses.. to give some examples. Speaking about styles I really like finger picking, but I also willing to play solos in a decent way. I m not much into technics using the pick and of course I never meant to be able soling like Steve Vai and fingerpicking like Tommy Emmanuel at the same time.. I'm aware it's pretty much impossible to master all the guitar technics. If I could play something right now, I would choose all dire straits songs.. ( I actually learned to play sultans of swing :) )
In any case, since I' m not a kid anymore ( I m 38 ) I find more difficult to answer what kind of musician I want to be. For sure I would like to be at least in a cover band in a couple of years, playing in clubs and having fun. At least I see that to be something more realistic right now.
If I will keep playing and grow as a musician, who knows... of course things might develop in to something else, I d love to play as a session man or register something in a studio, but I see that as a far dream right now.
So for now I want to stay with my feet on the floor and focus on keep learning and improving.
In any case, was fun to answer your question

Davide
# 10
3donkey
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Joined: 12/21/10
Posts: 105
Well, I guess this was not what I meant from my original question
# 11