Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Light my fire

Got together with some friends last weekend, one of whom plays guitar. She's been playing since high school, and I was friends with her as she was first learning.

We had a conversation about learning and practice,and she gave me some great advice. The highlights:
* Practice at least once a week.
* Practice until you get tired. This is enough to to get calluses and build up stamina, but not too much to cause injury.
* Learning chords is good, but learning an actual song is better to help with changing between chords quickly. She suggested La Bamba or some Beatles' songs as good first songs because most songs are only 3 basic chords.

The brief conversation was very encouraging and motivating for me. It turns out that she was only practicing a couple times a week, max, when she first started out. It was really good to learn that I'm, more or less, on the right track, and that it may take a while, but my current practice setup is enough to build strength and proficiency.

So, that goal of playing at an open mike night sometime in 2008 may be realistic after all. Yay! Of course, if I choose a Beatles' song, it means I will have to learn the dreaded "F" chord (insert A minor chord here for dramatic effect).

Friday, February 8, 2008

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

No, I'm not having cereal for lunch, I'm finally getting around to practicing after nearly a month of idle fingers (well, idle from strumming, at any rate).

I'm not any worse than last time I picked up the guitar, but I'm not any better. I remember the fingerings of all the 6 chords I've learned, if not always their names, and my scales went swimmingly. And, for the song I am learning (Eagles - Take it Easy), I'm really starting to internalize the strings and notes, so if I'm "guessing" at the next chord, or a guitar solo melody line, I'm pretty good at getting it right. (e.g. Playing by ear. Sort of).

But none of that is translating to improvement in sound.

The other nice thing is that my hands, fingers and wrists don't hurt from overpractice.

I need to start on another lesson, but with such sporadic practice right now, I wanted to get back to regular practice before jumping in to something new. Now that today's practice has clearly shown to me that I'm in some freaky-bizzaro plateau-land, I'll definitely be moving on to put some more variety in my practice. Even if I'm only practicing twice a week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rocked out?

I've not been able to get momentum going to practice since the holidays, but I'm still around. I've got a lot of other stuff that I've been working on that has gotten in the way. I'm still hoping to carve out time to practice. The guitar is at work now, and I'm hoping to use a couple lunch hour's a week to practice. We'll see how that goes.