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Naturals vs. Practised players
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Quinn Brown



Joined: 14 Aug 2005
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:54 am    Post subject: Naturals vs. Practised players Reply with quote

When you first started playing guitar, from the first day to the whole first year or so, how much of it "came" to you automatically? Some people I have talked to say they had nothing come to them naturally, that it was completely awkward for a long amount of time, until they practised and practised, and others say they were complete naturals on their instruments. I don't believe that anybody is a "complete" natural, but I think some people have a lot of skill they are born with. (Such as Django in the tale about the first time he played infront of a live audience when he was a little boy, and made them cry with his beautiful playing). How much of your playing would you say came naturally, and how much from practise? Sure, one could say that everything is from practise, but I dissagree, because I think some people are born with a musical sense in them. Anyways, what do you guys think?
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dkaplowitz



Joined: 28 Apr 2005
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:01 am    Post subject: Re: Naturals vs. Practised players Reply with quote

Quinn Brown wrote:
Some people I have talked to say they had nothing come to them naturally, that it was completely awkward for a long amount of time, until they practised and practised...


Count me as one of them. And though I can pull off some pretty cool things now and again, there's still a ton of stuff that doesn't come naturally. Early on it was easy to make progress b/c I was young, passionate, very intent on learning, didn't have as many preconceived notions about my abilities, and wasn't as set in my ways. Now I'm more mature, have a better, more refined ear, but I have to fight my "adult" views about progress, etc. Laziness gets harder to overcome as I get older. I still try to have fun with it though, and I am progressing all the time, but none of the progress comes without work.
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draqza



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 205

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle, and it really depends on what I'm doing. Some stuff I can pick up by ear, some stuff kills me even if I have the music in front of me; sometimes I feel like/have been told I can improvise great melodies, other times I feel like I'm struggling to do anything that sounds *right*, much less *good*.
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Coltrane



Joined: 17 Oct 2005
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been a private guitar instructor for years, with all varieties of students. There simply are no naturals. It does come a little bit easier to some, but really it is just practice. Every 'monster' player I have had has practiced hours a day. Every mediocre player less than half an hour.

The only real difference between 'naturals' and the rest is the willingness to practice.
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steve



Joined: 04 Jun 2005
Posts: 867
Location: oz

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got my first lesson on guitar, open G D and C chords, at 2pm one Saturday afternoon (after just buying my first guitar)
The next day I went back to my teacher and asked for some more because I'd done those, and sure enough I could strum all three without dead notes (give or take the odd one) and change them pretty smoothly to a beat.

My guitar teacher was so impressed that he showed me off to the next guy who came into the shop that he ran and said something like, "check out this, he only got his guitar yesterday! He's a bloody natural!"

However, that Saturday afternoon after getting home (I lived around the corner) I sat in my room and strategically, by using ideas like taking fingers of and wiggling them, then trying to put them back on the chord as fast as I could etc, practiced until bed time around 8:30 -9:00. My fingers were as sore as a.........., but I love love loved this instrument.

So whaddaya reckon? Am I a natural?
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PaulD



Joined: 18 Sep 2004
Posts: 1129
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As with most things in life, there are many variables (there's that word again, steve Smile ). Was the first guitar you had really hard to play because it was really cheap or just wasn't set up correctly and the strings were too high off the board? Was your first guitar too big or too small for you? Could you keep time (some people just can't). And from a purely physical perspective, some people can do things easily that others can't (curl your tounge, touch your toes, that sort of thing) so the physical act involved in playing a guitar may come easier to some than others.

All that said, let's assume an adequate instrument and 2 people of equal general abilities. Let's say beginner person A pratices for 10 miutes and has a difficult time and gives up for the day and beginner person B practices for 10 minutes, has the exact same difficulties but enjoys doing it and keeps going for another hour or more. Everything being relative, to person A the guitar is a difficult instrument, whereas to person B the guitar is fun and he probably didn't realize he had practiced that long. Multiply this over a month and person B may start to seem like a "natural" to person A, where in reality B just didn't realize how much work he had actually put in because he was having fun. A lot of so-called "naturals" just don't realize how hard they actually work.

I used to tell my kids that "The more you do it, the easier it gets. The easier it gets, the more fun it is. The more fun it is, the more you do it. The more you do it, the easier it gets..."

Paul
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Coltrane



Joined: 17 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve, how old were you when you first started? I must say, being able to play three chords in one day is hardly a prodigy. Im quite amazed that any instructor would think such.

I had a student once who played Jaco's version of Donna Lee on bass after about two months, thats about as close as i have seen to natural. Except for the fact that he played hours and hours every day.
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draqza



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 205

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulD wrote:
And from a purely physical perspective, some people can do things easily that others can't (curl your tounge, touch your toes, that sort of thing) so the physical act involved in playing a guitar may come easier to some than others.


Yeah, I've actually seen that... I'm not really an instructor (meh, despite what one of my teachers told me, I don't feel particularly qualified to teach anyone much of anything real yet) but one of my friends wanted me to show her some stuff. I think I went with something with power chords, figured that'd be an easy enough starting place for her, and she just couldn't figure out how to get her wrist in the right place to do it. Either by watching me or by having me try to move her wrist for her.

Actually, I guess the *real* first thing I tried to do with her was show her half of the Em pentatonic box and then played a blues in E and said "play whichever of those notes you feel like." She froze up instantly, and then decided it was more fun to watch me do it... which I had happen with another guy who I tried to teach, he decided it was more interesting to watch me play than to actually play himself, so that kinda goes back to your "is it fun?" bit too.
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know exactly how to answer this. When I first started playing guitar it felt pretty natural. But I always had a big head, so it might not have sounded as good as I thought it did.

I remember that I started playing in February of 1997 and by August I went to the National Guitar Workshop and I was playing Jimi Hendrix riffs and maybe a solo here or there. I don't know if I was really ripping it up, but I sure thought I was amazing. Wink

For the first year or so I played guitar about eight hours a day during the school year and thirteen hours during the summer.

The thing is, I was only serious about being a killer guitarist for the first two or three years or so. After that, I became much more interested in writing songs, being creative, looking for new sounds etc. I've only gotten into hardcore practicing again in the past 8 months. Sometimes I think "oh man, if only I had been practicing this hard the whole time" but then I realize how foolish that thought is. But woah I am digressing.

Also, I'll estimate that I've sat down with about 50 absolute beginners over the few years that I've been teaching, and not one of them ever just "got it." At the same time, none of them have ever put in the kind of practice time that I put in. The best I got is one kid who probably plays for a few hours a day, and he's doing pretty well.

The more technical side of music is a big hold up for a lot of people as well. Some people can play great but have a really tought time understanding how a mode works, or how to play the same riff in different positions on the fretboard. Music theory always made sense to me...::shrug::
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

draqza wrote:
PaulD wrote:
And from a purely physical perspective, some people can do things easily that others can't (curl your tounge, touch your toes, that sort of thing) so the physical act involved in playing a guitar may come easier to some than others.


Yeah, I've actually seen that... I'm not really an instructor (meh, despite what one of my teachers told me, I don't feel particularly qualified to teach anyone much of anything real yet) but one of my friends wanted me to show her some stuff. I think I went with something with power chords, figured that'd be an easy enough starting place for her, and she just couldn't figure out how to get her wrist in the right place to do it. Either by watching me or by having me try to move her wrist for her.

Actually, I guess the *real* first thing I tried to do with her was show her half of the Em pentatonic box and then played a blues in E and said "play whichever of those notes you feel like." She froze up instantly, and then decided it was more fun to watch me do it... which I had happen with another guy who I tried to teach, he decided it was more interesting to watch me play than to actually play himself, so that kinda goes back to your "is it fun?" bit too.


Well, for whatever that's worth, I think that's waaayy too advanced for an absolute beginner.

Personally, with most people I start with three string open chords (like xxx010 for a C), open position power chords, and a very simple picking thing on a string or two like ode to joy in C. That's usually pretty challenging for an absolute beginner. We usually don't get into the open E pentatonic or to moveable power chords until at least a month or two into things.
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steve



Joined: 04 Jun 2005
Posts: 867
Location: oz

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
so are you? a natural that is...


I wish!

Quote:
Steve, how old were you when you first started? I must say, being able to play three chords in one day is hardly a prodigy.


Prodigy? I wish.

I was 13 when I started.
However, If I could get my students to practise 7 hours a month I'd half way to being happy! Laughing
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alfonso



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 1258
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playing guitar well takes a lot of practice, playing jazz guitar even forces you to practice more and make other adjustments. I have never in my life met a natural, and that's natural on any instrument except a kazoo.
Django could have been a prodigy and Bireli LaGrene could also be except it's known that those guys practised and practiced more. The stories about Django are just stories to keep the great legend alive and kickin', he was amazing but mostly his style and the fact that he played with a withered hand, thus two fingers, that's what made him amazing.
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alfonso



Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 1258
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Igiro,
Thanks for the heads up, but I do believe that along with Django making 11 great compositions, his style in other words the Hot Club style is what made him great. I've had plenty of verbal ass kicking's on this and other forums, that's all part of the fun of learning and I go out of my way not to take myself or anyone else too seriously. But you are right about me saying that on another forum, don't think I would be that bold. later
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draqza



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 205

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

<offtopic>

JakeJew wrote:
draqza wrote:
PaulD wrote:
And from a purely physical perspective, some people can do things easily that others can't (curl your tounge, touch your toes, that sort of thing) so the physical act involved in playing a guitar may come easier to some than others.


Yeah, I've actually seen that... I'm not really an instructor (meh, despite what one of my teachers told me, I don't feel particularly qualified to teach anyone much of anything real yet) but one of my friends wanted me to show her some stuff. I think I went with something with power chords, figured that'd be an easy enough starting place for her, and she just couldn't figure out how to get her wrist in the right place to do it. Either by watching me or by having me try to move her wrist for her.

Actually, I guess the *real* first thing I tried to do with her was show her half of the Em pentatonic box and then played a blues in E and said "play whichever of those notes you feel like." She froze up instantly, and then decided it was more fun to watch me do it... which I had happen with another guy who I tried to teach, he decided it was more interesting to watch me play than to actually play himself, so that kinda goes back to your "is it fun?" bit too.


Well, for whatever that's worth, I think that's waaayy too advanced for an absolute beginner.

Personally, with most people I start with three string open chords (like xxx010 for a C), open position power chords, and a very simple picking thing on a string or two like ode to joy in C. That's usually pretty challenging for an absolute beginner. We usually don't get into the open E pentatonic or to moveable power chords until at least a month or two into things.


Well, that's why I'm not a real teacher Twisted Evil Doing the pentatonic thing was just something I was trying to show her as in 'hey, do this so we can play together.' Although I guess you're right, that's closer to how I learned, with the 3 string chords and single note melodies (from a Mel Bay book) and then once I'd gotten through the notes on all 6 strings (so, yeah, maybe a month), my dad showed me the pentatonic scale. I guess I have a skewed perception, also partly because "absolute beginner" isn't a completely fair description, she just hadn't really played in a year probably and most of what she'd tried to do was just readings tabs.

Ah well, if I ever actually try to be a teacher, I'll either keep that in mind, or come back and ask for advice Laughing

</offtopic>
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

haha hey guys I just had a great idea for all the teachers here

a marketing scheme

we can say "After one day, I can make you sound like you've playing for a week! After a week, I can make you sound like you've been playing for months!"

Then when they come for the lesson, you explain "well, most people practice for about 30 minutes or less a day. Practice seven times that much! That will be $40, please."
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