How easy, or not, is it to learn how to play the guitar?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Zell, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Zell

    Zell IrregularMember

    Messages:
    5,853
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2007
    Location:
    Utah
    How difficult is it to learn to "play by ear"?
     
  2. MoBill

    MoBill Misanthrope

    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    I've been playing guitar for 30 years. Started when I was 8. Just a (compulsive) hobby these days, but for 10 or 12 years I taught a lot of lessons, and for a few years I played professionally as a solo classical/acoustic act. You can hear me do my thing here if you're curious:

    http://www.solutionm.com/download/music/ejourney.mp3

    http://www.solutionm.com/download/music/cityofno.mp3

    http://www.solutionm.com/download/music/ifyoucould.mp3

    I like to say that the guitar is one of the easiest instruments with which to get started making music; I can have a student strumming Bob Dylan songs within a few hours of lessons. But it is one of the most difficult instruments to really master.

    Having taught and taken a lot of lessons, I can tell you that a good teacher can save you a lot of toil and suffering. They can also inspire you. I do think it's possible to become a fine player learning to play "by ear", but it is absolutely The Hard Way. Things go much more quickly and easily with a good teacher.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     

  3. GLWyandotte

    GLWyandotte Señor Member

    Messages:
    4,842
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Location:
    Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
    Usually play by ear means too lazy to learn to read music. Why not do both? You're going to need some minor help with chord's shapes and scales anyhow, so just take the extra step and learn to sight read.
    You can easily play by ear to improvise once you get going.
    Guitarists and guitars are funny. 90% of the time you can get away with being a hack and nobody(except musicians) will know the difference- until you're asked to sit in with a band, then you're screwed.

    Take your time, google some chord shapes and get yourself going.
     
  4. jtmac

    jtmac Señor Member

    Messages:
    5,395
    Likes Received:
    190
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Location:
    State of Denial
    Don't discount playing by ear as "the easy way out". Playing by ear is the only way to truly be musical, much like speaking is the only way to truly converse vocally. Literacy is important, though. Without your brain's musical abilities already being engaged, you're going to have to train your hearing. Learning to read the some form of notation helps. Tabs are easy to read, and unlike traditional staff notation it isn't based on completely unnatural principles.

    The guitar is one of the most natural musical instruments around (aside from standard tuning's irregular interval between the second and third strings, but don't fret about that). If your fingers can take the beating, it's a good place to start. You can be making at least some music quickly.
     
  5. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

    Messages:
    42,701
    Likes Received:
    2,857
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Location:
    Taunton, MA
    Not.

    It isn't your ear. I've got a pretty good one. It's about repeatability.

    I watch great guitarists, and half-way decent guitarists, like I watch a guy who can throw nails like darts. It isn't that it's "hard," per se. It's a question of dedication. Are you dedicated enough to see a symbol on a page (or a sound in your head) and repeat it EACH AND EVERY TIME exactly where it is?

    I heard someone talking once about life and said as a comparison, most people live as if they are playing piano within the stretch of both hands with the thumbs touching.

    Same with guitar. MANY people can play OK (or in my case, poorly) on those 6 strings in the first 3-4 frets. I marvel at those who can just move their hand up and down that neck, knowing exactly where they are and play.

    And that takes one thing - practice. You need to "know" where your hand is at all times.

    Can you hack by easily? Yeah. I can play a few tunes after 9 months of about an average of 20 min/day. Will you be Roger Waters or Fred Waters.
     
  6. Magnus2131

    Magnus2131 Glock Gimp

    Messages:
    13,852
    Likes Received:
    736
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas
    Very hard for me but I've never had lessons either.
     
  7. Detectorist

    Detectorist

    Messages:
    25,951
    Likes Received:
    17,547
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Location:
    Missouri
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceb6ahViXdE"]Charo Live at Bally's "Recuerdos De La Alhambra" - YouTube[/ame]


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc_zdOEPZDA"]Chet Atkins "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" - YouTube[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  8. Rustin

    Rustin

    Messages:
    1,839
    Likes Received:
    45
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    If your just doing it for fun learn some chords, and then to strum some simple songs. Go from there. I've been mostly learning by ear but I got tabs and chord structures on my favorite songs to get me started. It's fun and frustrating, but you'll notice [​IMG]improvement.

    I think most of my favorite musicians had no idea how to read music. They just played and got their own style which made them stand out.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  9. sciolist

    sciolist On the Border

    Messages:
    15,286
    Likes Received:
    17,076
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Location:
    PNW
    Different people learn in different ways. Some prefer rigor, others intuition. Some can't get dressed until they have a plan for the whole day. Others can't execute a plan to save their lives.

    I learned to read music as a child. I played classical violin, but also dabbled in pop, like many other kids. Sight reading came more naturally to me than playing by ear, but the opposite was true for many of my friends.

    Your preference for formal vs. street learning of spoken language probably gives a good idea.
     
  10. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

    Messages:
    63,040
    Likes Received:
    59,225
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    That's about it. I'm self taught, but I was able to play rhythm and sing a whole list of Bob Dylan and similar music within a month or so of starting to teach myself.

    That was 20 years ago and I'm still not that great, but I was able to form a band and play bars as the only guitarist and singer when I was in law school, maybe a year after I started learning. Depends on what music you like and what level you are happy with.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  11. edporch

    edporch

    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    29
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
    It depends a lot on your natural inborn aptitude for music.
     
  12. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

    Messages:
    42,701
    Likes Received:
    2,857
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Location:
    Taunton, MA
    After 6 months, I can truly say that I can hack through "Wish You Were Here" as good as a 6th grader.

    But I'm 100x better than I was 3 months ago. So I figure by 60, the "we're dead, someone else reunion for us" Pink Floyd Tour will be going on and I'm gonna be famous!
     
  13. Cobra6

    Cobra6

    Messages:
    800
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Location:
    Tennessee Valley
    If you can already read/understand music - it is not too bad (if you are musically inclined).
    The biggest problem is building up the pads on your fingers and consistent practice to keep them up.
     
  14. Just_plinking

    Just_plinking

    Messages:
    3,538
    Likes Received:
    4,589
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
    I finally gave up. I don't have the talent to be half as good as it would take to be satisfying. Last time I tried playing with regularity my left hand felt like I had arthritis. It didn't go away for weeks and i'm only 26. I finally gave up and started selling my stuff.
     
  15. Detectorist

    Detectorist

    Messages:
    25,951
    Likes Received:
    17,547
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Location:
    Missouri
    To me, the hardest thing is to find a good teacher. I've never found one for classical guitar.
     
  16. HollowHead

    HollowHead Firm member

    Messages:
    29,523
    Likes Received:
    13,532
    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Location:
    Where the buffalo roam
    I held my first guitar in fifth grade and was able to play "Smoke On The Water" by the end of the first day. That was almost forty years ago and I haven't progressed much even though I play almost daily. :crying: HH
     
  17. jtmac

    jtmac Señor Member

    Messages:
    5,395
    Likes Received:
    190
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Location:
    State of Denial
    Playing by ear is a skill that can be learned. Certainly, some people are predisposed to it (and as with most things we don't understand how to teach, the majority that do it are those predisposed to it), but it can be learned.
     
  18. glockaviator

    glockaviator

    Messages:
    981
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    It varies a LOT. If it's your first instrument it will take longer. The piano is easier for most (all you have to do is push a key down). Electric guitars are easier to play than acoustic (easier to push the strings down).

    It usually takes a few years to become good enough to entertain, unless you know an instrument already (and that includes voice as an instrument). But some people learn much quicker.
     
  19. heliguy

    heliguy

    Messages:
    1,802
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    To hard to even try unless you already play another instrument...
     
  20. Never Nervous

    Never Nervous

    Messages:
    2,915
    Likes Received:
    273
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Location:
    Metro ATL
    I am interested in learning to play bass guitar. Is it easier since it has less strings?

    NN