You're Doing It ALL WRONG!

Welcome to this month’s edition of Fingerstyle Monthly.

This may sound familiar to you. "You're not playing that right. That's not the way it was on the record!" If it doesn't, consider yourself lucky.

It seems like there's always somebody whose idea of music is duplicating a recording EXACTLY. But usually, the guy saying that can't do it either.

Most people learn to play guitar using several different approaches. The approaches usually include watching others,listening to recordings, making up their own stuff, and, sometimes, taking lessons. So, most people are at least influenced a little bit by some other guitar player.

Does being influenced ever give way to copying and is that a bad thing? Most of the great fingerstyle players freely admit their influences. And usually those influences are other guitarists. But the guitarists that we admire sound like themselves.Even though they may have spent hour upon hour sitting by their record player, patiently learning a song. Why is that?

I think that there are a couple of reasons. One is that it's hard for most people to copy something 100% perfectly.

Especially fingerstyle guitar music. Especially if the song is really fast and syncopated.

Another reason is the difference in peoples physical abilities/limitations. Not everyone can finger chords like Merle Travis, for example. So when you put together factors like these, you get the variations that make us sound like individuals.

So should we slave away trying to learn a song note for note?

I think that the answer to that is yes. It's a great way to develop the discipline that you need to learn to play well. And we usually like the sound of the guitarist whose song we're trying to learn. That's what really makes us want to do it in the first place.

I think that it also makes us more musical players, too. All of those hours spent copying a recording really helps us learn the fingerboard and note relationships. In fact, the re-introduction of tablature may have decreased our ablities. Many of us spend a lot of time memorizing numbers on lines and don't really hear what we're playing.

So, I know that I will continue to use different ways to learn, including recordings. Both "record" types of recordings and visual "records" like this. I hope that you'll do the same.

I hope that you enjoy this issue of Fingerstyle Monthly. If you have friends that you think would enjoy it, feel free to pass it on.

As always, if you have questions, contact me.

See you next month!

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