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How to learn guitar without the guitar?
May 2, 2014 12:06 PM   Subscribe

I've been playing guitar for about a year. I practice when I can but I spend a fair amount of time sitting around watching TV when I can't have the guitar in my hands but I do have my laptop handy and I feel like I could be using this time to learn some things that don't strictly require me to be playing an instrument.

I'd like to learn more music theory, how to read sheet music, where the notes are located on the neck, how chords are put together, how to play a new chord without having to look the fingering on some chart, how to translate things into different keys, and probably some other things that I don't know about or am forgetting.

I get that a lot of these things are much easier to learn with the guitar in my hands and I do that as much as I can but I'd like to find some resources (websites, software, books, games, whatever) that I can use during those times when I can't play an instrument or otherwise make a lot of noise that I can then put into practice the next time I have a chance to play.
posted by VTX to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
why not play in front of the TV? I do it all the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:11 PM on May 2


Because I'm not the only one in the room.
posted by VTX at 12:13 PM on May 2


I would spend time on http://www.musictheory.net/

However, to the point of practicing with people in the room, there are any number of rigs that will let you play through headphones.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:35 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


From experience, that won't work. Picks and strings aren't silent.
posted by rhizome at 12:41 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


How about working on finger stretching and strengthening? Here are some decent stretches and some people swear by their Gripmaster, though other people don't like it as much.

Yeah, the headphone thing won't work if there are other people watching with you. However, maybe you could mute the strings with one arm and work on hammer-on/pull-of exercises with your fretting hand? That could be basically silent if you do it right. Google for classical guitar slur exercises to find some good ones.
posted by griseus at 12:44 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


The bassist Dominique Di Piazza invented this gadget; it looks like they make a guitar one too.
posted by thelonius at 12:45 PM on May 2


I have the Note Trainer and Ear Trainer apps from Justin Guitar on my phone and use them when I have bit of downtime at work.
posted by doctord at 12:51 PM on May 2


Back in the day, when I was learning touch typing in Middle School (on a typewriter, remember those?)... I would practice by moving my fingers, just slightly, "typing" words, letters, sentences....about ALL the time...I still do it once in a while.. It becomes a muscle memory thing.

I imagine that could translate into fingering chords as well...
posted by HuronBob at 1:18 PM on May 2


Guitar without the guitar is a lot like Garfield without Garfield; abstract and not nexessarily on target.

An unplugged electric guitar, palm muted, is nearly silent. You might not sit right next to someone else on the couch during a quiet movie, but it's otherwise unobjectionable. Practice scales, arpeggios, stretches, patterns, and other stuff that doesn't take your whole attention.

Contrarily, useful practice on your instrument is less important than watching tv half-distracted? If your goal is to continue watching a fair amount of tv, you're doing it right. That being said, I've spent many hours noodling on guitar silently in a room of couch potatoes.
posted by lothar at 8:24 AM on May 3


I'd like to learn more music theory, how to read sheet music, where the notes are located on the neck, how chords are put together, how to play a new chord without having to look the fingering on some chart, how to translate things into different keys, and probably some other things that I don't know about or am forgetting.

These things require attention. I don't recommend simultaneous TV.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:33 PM on May 3


For years, back in the days when I had roommates, I would silently pick and finger scales while watching TV. While not as good as giving it your full attention, I believe it was a net positive on my playing. I never wanted to be an instrumental virtuoso though. I just wanted to improve my limited dexterity a bit. Strumming an electric guitar can be pretty annoying to others in the room but picking scales can be done pretty quietly.
posted by ericthegardener at 8:51 AM on May 4


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