June 13, 2020 at 3:52 am #178172
Brian talked about the different levels of guitar playing in one of his recent lessons (don’t remember which). I was thinking about this and, right now, this is what I came up with. I’m sure I’m wrong on these and have missed others. I’d be curious as to what other people think.
Level 1: Playing basic chords in 1st position (where we all started)
Level 2: Arpeggiating and embellishing those chords
Level 3: Playing basic chords up and down the neck using the CAGED system; arpeggiating and embellishing those chord
Level 4: Playing lead in the key of the song using the 5 shapes of the major and minor pentatonic scales.
Level 5: Playing lead over the changes in the song, using the different CAGED chords and their corresponding scales. (Using other modes and scales.)
Level 6: Using harmonized 3rds and 6ths (EP 363: still trying to figure these out and how they best fit into a song with quick changes.)
Level 6: Combining Rhythm and lead (Hendrix) or, perhaps better put: combining all of the above.
Obviously, this is a basic breakdown and, I’m sure, wrong. I’d be curious as to what others thought of this. i.e. where does fingerpicking come in, if at all? What about hybrid picking? Where would playing THROUGH the changes fit in? etc.
June 13, 2020 at 5:57 am #178179Phil67Participant
That seems very consistent
Personally I clearly identify myself as level 3, relying on AM to go upper
About finger picking, I won’t say it is an item by itself, being in an apartment, I cannot always play loud, so I most often finger pick, despite my level, and indeed feel less confident with a pick
I would rather add a topic 4bis: enrich right hand technic, this means go to finger if we used to play with pick, hybrid picking, etc
Where does the white go when snow melts?
June 13, 2020 at 3:58 pm #178190sunjamrParticipant
That would be the logical way to go about learning guitar. But a lot of people just want to immediately start playing stuff that sounds like music, and that requires memorizing lessons and songs without actually knowing or understanding what’s going on. My own approach was to immediately start memorizing licks and building my brain’s lick library. That required knowledge of the pentatonic scale positions, so I had to pause and memorize those forwards and backwards. But that allowed me to put on a jamtrack, and just jump right in and start doing some improv. Yahoo, I was playing guitar! After about 3 years, I got interested in developing my funk guitar skills, and that forced me to learn the CAGED stuff (mainly on the top 3 or 4 strings). Harmonized 3rds and 6ths were built into some of the licks I started learning from day one, and it’s only natural to mess around and see how you can move them up and down the neck. I know there’s a pattern to the progression of 6ths, for example, but if I want to play some in any given key, I still have to run through them first to jog my memory about their fingering. So I guess my learning process amounts to this: Chaotic, but fun.
June 13, 2020 at 10:04 pm #178208sunburstParticipant
I know I came way to late to understanding the fret board,, before I joined premium here about five seasons ago,, i basically knew stardaed open major and minor chords ,, had only tried playing repeated stuff by ear.. before joining Active Melody I watched online but didn’t join this site pemium for a few seasons cause I was trying other sites and was slowly casual way learning a bit enough theory to jump start the importance on basic theory..
no master of theory but I do and can interpret anything played ,,certainly can jam with anybody these days,, my point is,,basic theory is fundamental as learning the abcs and reading if anyone gets my meaning.. okay i worked a whole saturday stainind deck and mowing lawn..Sunday morning I practice more technique like my weekend coffee and acoustic stuff lol
Brian is still inspiring me..he has a lot of fun recent and old but i’m so overwhelmed with favorites,,i just pick or fingerstyle something i saved.. trying not so much perfect but more to learn new techniques is more interesting and fun. so long as it is doable and up to my speed
i tried and get frustrated trying to shred or do something at such a high tempo that frustrates.guess I’m saying is I’m not a fast player like a Paul Gilbert etc… I lean towards the genres here at AM too
June 13, 2020 at 10:15 pm #178210sunburstParticipant
1) learn all the major and minor chords 2) learn those major and minor scales that build those chords and acknowledge the difference (what notes 3rd makes a minor by simply flattening half step a note in a major scale3) just learn the rest and theory takes months somtimes years but learning /qacknowledging theory makes a big difference
June 15, 2020 at 12:08 am #178266Laurel CParticipant
Brian uses the term ‘real estate’ when referring to an area of the fretboard. I think this a great metaphor for seeing what lives within the boundaries of the fretboard. I think you are logically referring to knowledge and understanding of concepts rather than levels of guitar playing. The starting point would be 1st position chords but from there on it would look like a mindmapping chart as everyone’s building blocks would be different. No two would be alike.
First you need the knowledge of knowing it is there. (ie Chords, Major and Minor Pentatonic Scale, CAGED shapes, triads, relative minor and double stops etc). But then the understanding takes on many different directions for players. The levels mentioned (2-6) are worthy personal goal setting tasks and everyone would have different ways in putting knowledge into practice for learning or incorporating it into an arrangement. That’s why the AM lessons are so good as the concepts are inbuild into the lessons, so you end up playing a musical arrangement at the same time plus a theorical boost.
The question about where fingerpicking and hybrid picking fit in are options of what you can use (arpeggios, slap, mute, shuffle, slide etc.) under the headings of rhythm and lead. You could break down your list into ‘concepts’ alphabetically (e.g. Chords) and add the content breakdown to the concept heading (e.g. Caged, Diminished, Relative Minor, Sus, Triads etc), then breakdown the content to more sub-headings as I think this is where you are going. Then have the goal setting as to what you want to achieve with this real estate. The description used for the lessons can give you a heads up for this in the genre you are interested in.
June 24, 2020 at 2:35 am #178736
Yes, thinking about it, it seems like you would only be able to quantify it to a certain basic level. After you get so far, as you said, everyone starts going in different directions. This guy likes bluegrass/ blues; this other person likes funk/blues and gravitates that way… etc. If you tried making some kind of a chart showing progression… well, very quickly, as you pointed out, it would become impossible to track.
Which is disappointing to a certain extent because I don’t feel like I have a map of sorts in learning the guitar. I’d like to be able to say, “Okay, I’m at point D here on the blues chart; after I learn this I’m going to progress to point E on the blues chart but, before I do that, I’d like to go to Point B on the Funk chart and learn that… then come back…then I’d like to go to the bluegrass chart point C and learn that…etc.” Right now, I feel like I’m just stumbling on to new skill “sets” by watching youtube videos or, thankfully, being led to better skills by people like Brian. A month ago I had no idea that harmonized 3rds and 6ths existed but, I’m having a great time going through them now. I know Brian has taught them in previous lessons but, for whatever reason, in my “getting old” mind, harmonized 3rds didn’t register as a “new” skill to learn. Now it does. Thank you Brian. But it would have been cool to see harmonized 3rds and 6ths as a future point in the learning “curve”. But then, if I want that kind of organization… go to an online music school, I guess.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m complaining here. I’m not. I’m having a great time learning the guitar. I’m extremely thankful for all the content we now have available. If we had all this available twenty years ago… but, no point in thinking like that; we have it now. It does at times, as someone has said, “feel like drinking from a fire hose.”
June 23, 2020 at 1:56 am #178670DCParticipant
Another teacher uses the terms “vertical growth” and “horizontal growth” which are relevant here (or so I hope!).
Vertical Growth is growth in terms of technical ability.
Horizontal Growth is growth in repertoire at the level of your current technical ability.
The progression you lay out is mostly one of vertical growth. For myself, I am interested in balancing vertical and horizontal growth, but for others they may be happy with limited vertical growth but endless horizontal as they learn more songs and play them in a similar way.
None of which takes away from your progression, it’s just a different way to view things.
There is also things like music and fretboard theory that starts to creep at around levels 3 and 4 (but might have been covered to some extent earlier when answering questions like “why do these chords sound good together?”).
PS: I would probably put myself in the level 3/4, working towards 5. Which is why I am here 🙂
June 24, 2020 at 2:11 am #178735
That’s an interesting, and I think, valid way of looking at it. Just so I understand you, vertical growth/learning is knowing the technical side i.e. memorizing the pentatonic scales. The horizontal growth/learning is putting those skills into practice i.e. playing lead over various songs using those memorized pentatanic scales.
I guess I would ask: how would you quantify the horizontal scale? Is it possible to quantify it or is it just subjective to the player and/or listener? (I’m not saying it HAS to be quantifiable to be valid; obviously, it’s valid– what you do with an learned skill means something– I’m just thinking about how in the world you would go about creating some kind of graph that would show some kind of valid progression.
Example: Vertical Level: Memorizing the Pentatonic Scales.
Horizontal Skill Level: Level 1: Going up and down the scales with no variation. Level 2: Sequencing the scales to make them sound more interesting. Level 3: Improvising using the scale(s) in one key. H-Level 4: playing chord changes using the scales… etc. up to say Level 100: Going Hendrix/SVR on the scales and chords.
I think it would be cool to have that kind of chart; the problem is that everyone’s path is different and, most likely, meandering– branching off into bluegrass, rock, funk, etc. rather than staying on a purely blues level progression… you would have to have a chart for each genre but then, each genre has overlapping skills both vertically and horizontally speaking… never mind, it would be an insane amount of work to put something like that together, if it’s even possible. That and you have to know each genre down to every detail… and at what point does it stop? At what point have you reached the “ultimate” point in the chart. Is there any musician out there that feels like he’s learned his instrument completely? They now have nothing more to learn? The more I learn the more I see how much I still don’t know… does that feeling ever end?
June 24, 2020 at 8:31 am #178739DCParticipant
I have never tried to plot things out like that. At some levels it isn’t that hard. For example, with the strum and sing style, horizontal growth would be learning more strum and sing songs and chord progressions. But as you point out, it gets complicated and murky quite quickly.
I use the two concepts more intuitively. I think most of us can sense the difference between learning new pieces that don’t really stretch our technical skills versus an intense focus on learning something new and difficult. I think a balance is required. And the two concepts are not independent. I can learn a new song (horizontal growth) and then realise that one section requires focus on a technical element, leading to vertical growth. For me, it’s really just about making sure I continue to develop in both directions. No sense learning dozens of new scales (vertical) if I don’t spend time applying them to lots of pieces (mostly horizontal). Anything we learn probably has elements of vertical and horizontal growth, it’s the mix and emphasis that varies.
One last example. I might spend 5 minutes working on speeding up a particular scale. Say I can currently play it with 16th notes at 60bpm, it starts to feel comfortable so I raise the tempo to 62bpm. I already know the scale, so there’s no horizontal growth. That exercise is purely focused on vertical growth.
The appropriate focus depends on each person and their goals. I know people who can play open chords and nothing else. But they don’t care. They get great enjoyment from learning lots of songs with open chords and playing them well. So it’s mostly all horizontal growth, and it doesn’t matter because the growth is in the direction of their goals.
That’s enough philosophizing for now. Time to sleep 🙂
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