I started playing guitar in high school. I bought a nylon string guitar and took classical lessons for a couple of years. When a buddy wanted to start a band...
I started playing guitar in high school. I bought a nylon string guitar and took classical lessons for a couple of years. When a buddy wanted to start a band I bought his old Fender guitar and joined him, a bass player, and a drummer in a short-lived group. After I got married I bought a used Yamaha dreadnaught (which I still have). My son, as a teenager, developed an interest in playing, so he and I went to guitar lessons together. Still, I didn't become a great player - at times I wasn't even a good player.
There were periods where I didn't play at all - for years at a time. The biggest issues for me were that, no matter how much effort I put in, I made many mistakes and I didn't seem to get noticeably better. I evetually developed carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand and had surgery. The carpal tunnel was better but my playing was not.
When I retired, I picked up the guitar again. I even signed up for an online course. I thought it was very good and I learned a lot but I noticed when I did the assignments that I kept making the same errors over and over again. This prompted me to search through my library of technique books until I found the one I was looking for - "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar" which I had purchased in 1999 but didn't do much with. I discovered the author, Jamie Andreas, was now teaching online classes and I quickly signed up.
Jamie has done this for a long time and has a great plan for how to put a foundation in place. There are exercises, such as fingering a note with the index finger, then the ring finger and moving up and down the strings at about the 7th fret. At first blush it looks "easy" and "trivial". It's only when you get into it that you realize it is important to do it the same way every time. That involves looking at finger and body tension and even the position of one finger in relation to all the others. I found that doing this "easy" exercise correctly was *hard*. Sticking to it, however, has really paid off.
I wish I had known about this when I first took lessons or at least that I had paid better attention when I first bought the Priciples book in 1999! Nobody else talks about these things. If you're intrigued, look at some of Jamie's YouTube videos becaue they address these issues.
I'm still in the Stage 1 process, which is designed to provide a good foundation for everything else. I learned my posture had been a problem - not only how I sat and held the guitar but also how I held my left and right hands. I'm now much more consistent in my playing - my hand position is much better and the consistency has made it easier to learn and to play. If I make a mistake, I use the techniques Jamie has demonstrated to work through it so I don't keep repeating it. And being more consistent, I don't make new mistakes *each* time through a piece because of sloppy technique.
I feel much more confident in playing - and I have faith that I'll be able to work through the rough spots successfully. I now look forward to picking up the guitar each day. The lessons are a challenge, not a burden.