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not just in baby steps, but rather, in baby baby steps. But I *can*, finally, play a first song.

I'm somewhat mortified (or maybe amused, it varies) to find that I'm one of those people who, rather than tapping their foot, sway their upper body in rhythm with the music. (You'd think that'd interfere with the playing, but so far it doesn't. Still, foot-tapping would be much better.)


Mar. 10th, 2012 05:42 pm
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This, my fingers also weren't made for.

Forget about the fingers - where do I even put my *arm*???
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Actually, my bitching is a couple of weeks late - I can play it okay(ish) now (though I'm still lacking spread). But, seriously. Human fingers weren't made for this chord.
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The most important part will go up f-locked later (sorry, lurkers).

But first:

1.) I am too stooopid to take a train to a neighbouring village and back. Seriously, I got ridiculously lost both on the way there, and on the way back today. A trip that should have taken three hours tops ended up taking six, and I spent most of them standing around on the platforms of godforsaken tiny village train stations in the middle of nowhere. I've navigated the public transport systems of London, Paris and Barcelona without trouble... but apparently little German villages defeat me. (What did I want in that neighbouring village? Yeah... well, more on that under the f-lock.)

Met some lovely people at the last of those train stations, though - in particular, a Thai woman with a very thick accent I could hardly understand, who simply stayed for half an hour so I didn't have to wait alone in the snowy dark. Sometimes people are just so lovely I could cry.

2.) (Apart from taking the train) another thing I apparently can't do is sing and play the guitar at the same time. Granted, choosing this as the first song ever to try playing and singing simultaneously was probably a tall order... (but it consists of chords I know, and the vocal melody is just beautiful, and never goes too high or too low for me...)

But, seriously... is there a trick of some sort, to make it easier to learn how to sing and play in different rhythms? Exercises one could do, perhaps? - Should probably check if there are tutorials for that kind of thing...
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I still don't do more than ten minutes of practice a day, and I still don't know more than six chords, but I'm getting better at changing between those six chords. Wanted to get to a reasonable degree of accuracy and speed with all the chord changes that are possible with these six before I go on to the next new chords. I'm currently somewhere near 50 changes per minute for the changes I've been practicing the longest, and around 30 for the ones I've only been practicing for a couple of weeks. Or I was, when I last bothered to count; most of the time I don't bother.

I still don't know a single song, though. I don't have a capo (yet), so I'm limited to songs that *really* only consist of E, A, D, Em, Am and Dm, and I'm not sure how to find any. Let alone how to find songs that feature only those chords *and* that I like well enough to want to learn to play.

What worries me a bit is that my brain seems reluctant to attach sounds to motions. What I mean is, I don't automatically know in advance which sound will be produced when I, what's the verb here, fret(?) a chord - and, vice versa, when I have a sound in mind I don't automatically know which chord it is, let alone which finger motions would produce it. I feel like my brain *should* be attaching these two different types of information to each other by now, but it doesn't.

Then again, five-or-so weeks of practice at ten minutes a day or less probably simply isn't enough to produce that kind of automatic association, in someone of - at best - average (perhaps even slightly below average) musical talent. I seem to remember this kind of association came to me more quickly when I was learning the recorder - but I was two and a half decades younger then. (And also, maybe, the way sound and motion are connected when playing the recorder is a bit more intuitive? A lot of it, I seem to remember, was just kind of "lift/put down one finger for a higher/lower tone". Whereas with the guitar, a lot of the time you really rearrange your entire left hand on the fretboard for every new tone. And you have to remember how many strings to play with your right hand on top of that.)

Oh, and...

Feb. 8th, 2012 03:21 pm
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I don't have a capo.
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A tabs website where you could enter all the chords you already know, and it would show you all the songs you could already play with them.

(Anyone have a tip for songs I could play with just A, E, D, Am, Em and Dm?)


Jan. 22nd, 2012 11:04 pm
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I just noticed: I had Sam pick up the guitar in my (99% finished, arrgh!) current LoM work in progress, a year or so ago.

I hope I'm not imitating him in other ways, too. I mean, playing the guitar is fine, but causing WW3, and wandering around in the ruins of nuked cities? That's where I draw the line. :D

Gah, I need to finish that story. I'm *so* close. If I could free up a few braincells for this...
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wanted to learn to play an instrument but didn't because they thought they were too old:



I've never played any instrument (well, except for the recorder, for two years, 23 years ago), and I can only practice for something like 5-10 minutes a day, and I'm not particularly gifted, yet it's absolutely awesome.

If all that's keeping you from it is concerns about your age (and not, say, the fact that the instrument you want to play is a church organ *g*): don't let that stop you. I've let it stop me for at least fifteen years or so, and now I feel fucking stupid for waiting so long.
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Soon I'll be good enough for a punk band. You only need three chords and the ability to change between them for that right? ;-)
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I said, "Well, I have the guitar to go busking in the city centre now."

(But I can't play it yet, of course. :D)
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as a proper grown-up, I should put the instrument down NOW, before I fall more in love with it, and hide it in a cupboard until after I'm done with my Ph.D. at least.
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Still making me happy, in the ten minutes per day I give to this.

Haven't gotten to the tricky parts yet though. :D

I'm about to start learning how to change between the three chords I can play...

But yeah, so far? I think there's one more 'hobby' I need to find a place in my life for. (Arrgh?)
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So, I've decided to go with the tutorials recommended by one of our student research assistants,, and so far it's pretty good,. The feeling of actually causing pleasant sounds to emerge from an instrument is amazing.

This is my first serious attempt at learning an instrument - the only instrument I learnt in childhood, (and pretty much only by default) was the recorder. (Why is this called "recorder" in English, btw? That's such a weird name for a kind of flute...) It was part of my school's standard fifth and sixth grade music classes. It's perhaps worth noting, though, that even though I did not love the instrument per se, I did love the ability to make music, and even tried composing a bit. Not that I got very far, mind you.

But now I'm worrying about what will happen when I go to America later this year. I won't be able to play for months... which probably means I'll forget everything again.


If everything works out, I'll probably leave in September.


Jan. 6th, 2012 02:48 pm
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I think my fingers are kind of too short. My index finger doesn't really reach all the way across the neck, so I can't depress all the strings with it at the same time, which is apparently necessary sometimes.

Then again, there are special online tutorials for people with short fingers who want to play guitar, so apparently there is a way... (and hey, Thom Yorke, who is my height exactly, also has really short fingers. Though maybe they're a tiny bit longer than mine, who knows. I'm not lacking much, just a few millimetres.)

There are also tutorials for people with thick fingers, btw.

I really do love the internet.

(Not that I have time to do more than five to ten minutes' worth of practice per day at the moment. Then again, the skin on my fingertips probably wouldn't appreciate it if I did more than that anyway. It still feels like I'm pressing my fingers down on knives' edges, sometimes. :D)


I'm not sure if I mentioned this here before, but this sudden interest in playing the guitar isn't all that sudden, really. It's been on my Wishlist of Improbable Things and Unwise Projects for more than two decades; I just never really dared actually buying one. But in the last few months a colleague of mine has started playing and has been encouraging me to try it, too, and then, of course, my uncle decided he was going to get rid of his old one, so... things kind of just came together.


Jan. 6th, 2012 02:44 pm
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This is what the my guitar looks like:

Differences: mine's in better condition; and mine has a pickup, i.e. could, theoretically (if I wanted to annoy my neighbours ;-)) be used with an amp.

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