*Disclaimer – this is a humoristic post – take it with a grain of salt. (and a smile! 🙂)
Hello fellow guitarists and welcome to this week's post, which is going to be on the humoristic side this time…
Please keep your mind open, be honest as you can with yourself and try to see if you are guilty in any of the “charges” below. I know I was, for a long time, accused of most of them!
Follow the advice that had helped me and you might find yourself having a helluva better time with your guitar and your friends starting from TODAY! Let's go:
*Originally posted on July '15, updated December '18.
The 8 Reasons Why Nobody Wants to Hear YOU Play Guitar
1 – You Play the Same Three Songs Over and Over…
This is the less boring cousin of the “All I Know Is How to Play The Californication Intro So I Will Do It Till You Beg Me To Stop” type of dude. Anyway, it might be time to expand your repertoire and learn new and fun songs. And how about printing out some DIY Custom Chord Books? The following posts might be just what you were looking for:
2 – You Never Actually Try to Get Better on the Guitar
If you only know 8 basic chords, can barely switch smoothly between them and do not have any cool tricks under your sleeve to spice up those chords, then it can be a great idea to slowly sit down and start learning new stuff so you can become more interesting to listen to. YouTube is bombarded every day with tons of good lessons that can help you become the guitarist that you want to be.
I personally like the JustinGuitar channel, it has some great lessons in store for everyone that taught me a lot of sweet tricks. You can also take a more professional structured course but these usually cost money and I recommend them mostly to complete beginners.
3 – Your Rhythm and Time-Keeping Skills Are Off
This is the number one “crime against music” that most people who pick up the guitar are guilty of, including me until later in my guitar life. When you are not doing a good job of keeping time in your songs, people pick up on it very quick and it badly hurts the listener's experience. Not to mention that other musicians will not want to jam with you.
People tend to neglect working on rhythm skills. Good rhythm skills are not too hard to obtain (even occasionally implementing a metronome in your practice time will do wonders quickly) and will give you a strong edge over most other people. Just ask any girl or guy who sings and they will tell you how damn frustrating it is to try to collab with someone who's off-time.
4 – You Never Play With Other Musicians, or Maybe You Do, But You Miss Out on the Learning Opportunities
Engaging in jams with other musicians can be your number one source of guitar inspiration other than listening to the music that you like. There is nothing like seeing a good guitarist sitting right in front of you and precisely observing, replicating, and asking about his moves.
The greatest artists and musicians probably became what they did hugely thanks to the little bit that they “took” from all the other musicians that they met and liked along the way.
5 – You Never Try to Listen to New Music
When was the last time you let yourself get lost in the YouTube “Related Videos” stream of new opportunities, put yourself in the shuffling hands of Apple Music / Spotify / Pandora / Jango (or similar), or actually taken the advice of a friend about a good piece of music you might like and went ahead and listened to it attentively?
There is an extreme abundance of good music in the world today, and usually your guitar repertoire will consist of songs that are in your iPhone/Android music playlists, so it's always a good idea to reach out further and expand those playlists with more music that you like. Life is more interesting that way.
Another one of my personal favorite sources of fresh music is YouTube home covers, usually for my favorite songs. A good cover that shows an interesting interpretation of a song will usually send me straight to pick up my guitar.
6 – You Only Play Solos Instead of Actual Songs…
Let's face it – most of our friends do not want to hear Steve Vai solos, and especially not the Stairway to Heaven solo again (and frankly, especially not the half-assed-amateur-acoustic-guitar-version that you and I can maybe play)… They want the guitar around so they can listen to songs that they like, while played from their friend's hands and that they can sing along to (or listen to you sing).
So if you want to play around people, I highly recommend focusing mostly on rhythm guitar skills and playing songs through chords, at least mostly while in the first stages of playing guitar.
7 – You Sing TERRIBLE!
I mean, really terrible… Because most people who sing “pretty bad” can still do just fine, be at least “tolerable”, and perhaps even very fun to be around (especially when it's backed up with confidence and humor) when it's just a random jam with friends. But if you sing wayyy off key and in a terrible voice – it can really get unpleasant to your surroundings. I think that most people do have enough self-awareness to not do that, but anyway…
Singing is just like an instrument, and if you practice it enough and follow some guidelines, you too can also become a pleasant singer, at least. It's rare that someone will sound good when he's trying to sing for the first time in his life, just like it was impossible to be good on the first time you ever held a guitar in your hands.
So work on it with these next tips as a beginning and have a look at the “Trying to Sing” articles category on the website.
8 – You're Just NO FUN… )-:
This one's more about people skills than guitar skills, but for me it's also something that took a long learning curve. Using the guitar wisely in different group dynamics might make the whole difference about how much people in the group enjoyed that night. For example, and as you noticed yourself already, on some evenings people would want you to just keep playing the guitar and singing songs and on others – one or two songs would be enough or even more than enough for that social gathering.
Feeling which song to play now, knowing when I should put the guitar down and just hang out with the friends, being very receptive to other people's ideas to songs that we should play – and let them open chords sheets on their phones so I can play it for them. These are just some of the things to keep your eye open for. The more you get better here, the more the guitar can be of a benefit to your social life…
♠ Hippie Tippie: A good rule of thumb I use when it comes down to which song I should play at the moment and with that specific group of friends that I am with is to think “would people be excited if right now someone would play this actual song out of a speaker?”… Hard to miss when you keep this thought in mind.
That's it friends. If I gave you even one good idea on something to improve, I would feel like I have done my job for the day… I would appreciate your comments on the different topics, other “music sins” that you see people do, and other tips you might have for me and the rest of us.
Peace and thanks a lot for your time reading this!