So I get a call from a friend yesterday asking how I’ve been doing with the guitar lately. He’s been playing for years but lives out of state so occasionally helps me out when I have a question. Unfortunately, not being able to be here in person and see what I’m doing there’s only so much help he can offer. To make matters worst most of the problems I’m having can’t be solved over the phone and I know so little about playing the guitar I don’t even know what questions to ask most of the time. I’m sure you can see all of this leading up to a minor disaster (two actually but I’m saving one for another blog). Disaster is really too strong of a word upon retrospect but in the moment it felt like it. Let’s call it a set back. Hell, let’s be honest; I have no idea what I’m doing and the only little bit I thought I was getting down I was doing wrong.
After thinking it over all night I have come to this basic conclusion; I’m being too cautious. I watched my video long enough to get me to the first chord “E”. Once I got to that point I turned it off and used my chord chart to begin learning the others. My thought here was that if I stop and just learn the fingering to each chord first and get comfortable with them then I could go back to the video and learn how to change chords, more advanced strumming and how to put a song together. At one point (as told in an earlier blog) I unsuccessfully tried to move ahead when I wasn’t ready. So I decided to keep it nice and slow and only focus on the chords for now.
So, predictably enough, that was a mistake. Here’s why: when playing an “E” chord you strum all six strings. So when I watched the part of the video showing how to do an “E” I learned to strum all six strings. However, it was at this point that I turned off the video…dun dun dun. Apparently, you don’t strum each chord the same. Here’s the confusion, I thought that the strumming was the same it was just a matter of where you put your fingers. Well, that’s what happens when you assume.
As you can see from the picture below the chord chart does show when not to strum a string but I didn’t know what the “x” meant. Now I do.
So the biggest problem really is that I don’t know what I don’t know and without someone else who does know to see me and catch it I’m wasting a lot of time learning things wrong and having to relearn them. It already took me months just to be able to play five chords, three of them wrong. Now I have to reteach myself how to play “D”, “A”, and “C”.
One good thing I did discover though was that even though my chart still has 6 more chords to learn I can easily get by with just the first five for now and slowly add the others later.
I was and still am feeling a bit deflated and defeated. This is just really making me wonder if it’s even possible for me to properly learn without an actual teacher. To be honest I’m not sure where I stand with whole thing right now.