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I abandoned the guitar years ago for the piano.  I stuck with it and I'm a pretty able pianist.  But pianos aren't as portable as guitars and not as intimate.  I am a very self disciplined, conscientious and meticulous practicer.  I don't budge beyond something unless I've perfected it.  So I really don't want to tie myself to a teacher.  Since I left the guitar (ten years ago), a host of guitar teaching resources have exploded in the mainstream and online.  Trying to sort them out online is nearly impossible.  Too many "reviewers" are hawking the products they're supposed to be reviewing.


I've read all the posts ( or at least I think I have) on this site for online teaching resources and the few I've seen for "Learn & Master the Guitar."  Once I get headed in the right direction, there's no stopping me. The problem is, there are so many choices and I would really like to spend my time wisely.


Now, I know "personal opinion" weighs heavy in theses conversations.  I value that and have literally read reams of them. But I seem to have exhasuted all avenues in finding an objective evaulation of JamPlay, Guitar Tricks, Learn & Master the Guitar, etc. 


Given equal effort, which program produces the best results? Are there any research-based studies? (Okay, I'm nuts). Am I really doomed to try all of them and hope I choose the right one before I'm too feeble to pick up my guitar?  Which program provides what any student needs to get sound basic and intermediate instruction on which to build?

Perhaps you have a link to something that will help me decide?  Lacking that, personal experience with a course that catapulted your playing into the stratosphere would be appreciated.




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Hi Bill;

I started playing guitar a little over a year ago and I had the same problem as you.  I did decide on the Learn and Master courses and have found them to be a great beginner and intermediate course.  I must admit though that I have not followed through on the lessons since I wanted to learn chords so I could play some of my favourite songs and sing along.  I hired a teacher on a pay as you play basis - he comes to the house when I feel I have mastered his last lesson - and he will teach me whatever I want.  That's probably not the correct way to learn the guitar but I am 75 and not up to learning all of the nuances of music - I just want to play songs - and I want to do it now!  My intention is to get back to the Learn and Master lessons.  There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do all of the things I have on my plate.  I also ordered the Learn and Master drum course which is excellent.  I spend a lot of time in my music room practising my instruments and learning a ton of stuff and it's fun.  I have always wanted to play a musical instrument but never had the time or resources when I was working for a living.  Now that I'm retired, all of that has changed except that I am older now and the chances of me becoming the musician I always wanted to be seem a bit remote.  | don't think I will become a rock star or fill Carnegie Hall any time soon.  Hey, I'm having fun and Learn and Master lessons set me on the right path.

All the best Bill,


I'll give you my standpoint from the opposite side.     I'm pretty much from the "good enough for folk music" crowd.   There are those who are, by dint of their personality, driven to seek perfection and order.   In my experience they often make unhappy musicians.

We know a fellow who was well... Terrific.  A superbly talented guitarist.   He was vastly self-critical and claimed he could hardly play.  He would shrug off compliments and tell people that he was never satisfied with his playing.   Eventually, he gave up playing altogether.   Sad.

I have watched guys come into our club, haul the dreadful old Ovation "house" guitar off the wall, and tear the place up with three chords and a bunch of old rock-n-roll songs.   They could sell a song.   They were obviously enjoying what they were doing.

I realize that there are certain psychological characteristics that go along with musical ability.   I've read a number of books on the subject of how our brains process music and what can go wrong with those processes.   A tiny bit of obsessive/compulsive obviously creeps in to certain folks and can drive them to wonders of performance..... Or make them miserable.

Strive for balance.

Hi Mark;

Point well taken.  I wish I was one of those people who could do that - just use a few chords and entertain.  I think I'm too much of a perfectionist and sometimes it drives me crazy.

Thanks for your comments - at my age I don't have the luxury of perfection but have lots of inclination for fun.  That's where I'm going now - having fun.


And the challenge, Roy, is to overcome who we are.  I used to sell to architects. They are often referred to in the industry as "frustrated artists."  I have a real sense for what that feels like. For me, stepping on stage with my music is more than summoning the courage to overcome my fear of humiliating myself; it's more about having to face the music about my musicianship. I have to accept that there will ALWAYS be people who play better than I do. ALWAYS.  And I need to get over that.  That's the perfectionist's challenge.


Thanks for the insightful reply, Mark. I admit to over intellectualizing my music. I could very well be the friend you referred to who just wasn't satisfied with his music. I get compliments all the time about my piano playing but they're hard to believe because in my mind I'm hearing the piano gods!


So, in response to my orginal post and against the backdrop of your response, perhaps someone like me--and like your friend--should stay away from formal lessons/method books.  Maybe we need to learn riffs and the chord progressions of our favorie songs and come at this completely differently. Instead of going for becoming an excellent guitarist, perhaps I should readjust my goals to become a joyful musician.   Hmmm. Worth thinking about.  It would require an entirely new approach to learning a musical instrument for me. IMO, there is a difference between "playing" and "making" music, and I'd say "making music" is the more joyful of the two.  My opinion.


Thanks again.




Great discussion guys - thanks for your input.  I have decided to have more fun playing my guitar instead of trying to be perfect.  I have always wanted to entertain children with songs and I'm sure that they won't care if I miss a chord here and there as long as we are having fun.  So my choice of songs will now lean more to Burl Ives and other fun pieces.  Just thinking of singing Candy Mountain makes me smile.  It was one of my favorites as a kid.


I agree that you have to figure out how best you learn; not everybody learns the same way. I also think all this depends on how far you want to go with the instrument. A lot of people are perfectly happy to just get a few basic chords down to knock out a few songs. I'm one who will never be able to show a lot of flash...brain surgery took care of that for me. So I have to approaching the instrument in a different way- how can I use it to make the song sound better without a lot of imprsive jaw-dropping technique
Being able to sing really helps when it comes to being able to tear the place up with 3 chords, i bet the guy could sing up a storm, i doubt if the 3 chords alone would do it.

Hey Guys,

I was just reading through this thread and found it very interesting basically because these are things I've struggled with - trying to make music, trying to perfect things, trying to have fun, trying to work hard.  These ideas can really clash.  I certainly understand and respect all your thoughts on the subject and would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences with this. 


I tend to be more like you, Bill.  I like things to be perfect.  People get on me for this and tell me to loosen up but I've learned to be proud of this quality.  Some people enjoy having fun.  Things don't have to be perfect for them as long as it's fun.  I think they should be proud of that quality.  What I've learned is that you've got to be yourself, otherwise you will always struggle.


I have experienced trying to be so perfect that I get hung up on one thing that my whole practice session is focusing on one measure of a piece.  This is not the way to practice.  What I've learned is that a practice session needs to be balanced just like anything.  My problem was that I wanted to be able to nail something NOW so I would spend hours on one thing.  I didn't understand that some of these very difficult techniques just need a little time each day over a longer period of time and they eventually creep their way into my playing while I'm maintaining musicianship, repertoire, and whatever other things I'm trying to include in my playing. 


As far as methods that really work, one on one with a great teacher is by far the best way.  A great teacher can notice things that you never noticed.  A great teacher will also teach you how to teach yourself.  What I mean by this is that they will show you how to solve any problems that come your way in your playing.  I was very fortunate to be able to study with a great teacher for about two years.  I think books and methods can be helpful tools but they can't give you feedback on your playing.


One other thing I noticed in this thread and wanted to comment on was the point about the person who is so hard on their own self that they can't even accept a compliment.  I've been there too and what I've learned is that I can be hard on myself but what I'm really saying when I brush off a compliment from someone is that I'm rejecting their sincere compliment (being rude to them), and I'm also just making an excuse for any mistakes I may have had.  I've learned to be polite, accept compliments regardless of how I feel about what they say, and not make excuses.  When you make excuses you are making the music about yourself and music, IMO, is to be shared to and for others.  The content can be about yourself and your experiences but it is never successful when it is for the reason of "Look at me, see how great of a musician I am".


I love all this philosophical talk about music and not many guys talk about it so I'm glad you guys brought up some great issues in guitar playing. 


I wish you guys the best in your guitar playing.


David Youngman

Thanks for your comments David.  I have always been a perfectionist and as you say, it can drive you crazy.  Since I took up the guitar (it's been a little over a year now) I have had to let my perfectionism go.  Let's face it - at age 75 I'm not going to be a Jeff Beck any time soon.  The musicians that I am getting to know have been playing for 25 years or more and started in their teens or even sooner.  I have been invited to play in a church group just strumming chords and to me that is fantastic and my attitude is - if I miss a chord now and then - so what!!  As long as I can stay in the groove and make 90% of the chords I will be satisfied with myself and I think they will be too.  Needless to say, I will try my best to be perfect but not beat myself up if not.  Life sure is great isn't it!!!



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