I have 3 months off coming up. Think I can get decent at guitar?
February 21, 2012 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I have 3 months off coming up. Think I can get decent at guitar?

To be fair, it's not totally 3 months off. I will still have assignments to do (I am a writer), but I won't have to report to a day job, so my schedule will be very flexible. I can't devote all my time off to this, but I'd love to try and learn guitar. What can my expectations be? How do you suggest I attack this - play X amount every day? Go to an intensive program? I'm average to above average when it comes to musical aptitude, and I live in a city with plenty of instructors.
posted by malhouse to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sure. Two x 2 hour lessons a week and 2+ hours of practise a day. Treat it like a job. You won't be a Hendrix, but you'll certainly pick up a lot of the muscle memory. It'll go a lot quicker if you've previously played another string instrument, and/or if you've got a strong understanding of music theory.
posted by Magnakai at 8:34 AM on February 21, 2012

When I say "treat it like a job", I mean that you have to turn up. Consistency is incredibly important - you need to embed the fretting positions in your mind so that it's something you don't have to think too hard about.
posted by Magnakai at 8:35 AM on February 21, 2012

Sure. I went from complete newbie to being a halfway decent clawhammer banjo player in about that amount of time (note: I had played guitar before which was a big help.) If you're musically inclined as you say then you'll already have a leg up and learning an instrument becomes more about coordination and muscle memory than wrapping your head around how to understand and play music in general. Take weekly lessons so you've got incentive to practice every day. If you have musician friends who know where you're coming from, see if you can get them to jam on basic tunes with you; without some kind of external pressure to improve it's easy to stall or plateau.
That also applies after those three months are up! It's easy to backslide if you don't find a way to keep playing regularly.
posted by usonian at 8:46 AM on February 21, 2012

Totally. Consider all the random college students who pick up enough proficiency to pick up (their gender of choice) while on a busy schedule of classes and cheap beer. I bet you can actually get pretty good at guitar in that time, especially with weekly lessons, some interest in theory, and an hour of practice a day. Remember to start off slow with the actual playing: you need to build calluses and tearing up your fingertips before those develop will just make you take unnecessary time off from playing.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:56 AM on February 21, 2012

Absolutely. If I were you I'd look for a good beginner's class and start there.
posted by bunderful at 9:17 AM on February 21, 2012

Hell, yes. Just be aware that you will be going through a period of discomfort with your fingers as callouses form. This may affect your typing, slowing you down some.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2012

Whoops, c'mon sea legs scooped me.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2012

I dunno the answer to that question but in order to help yourself do so, do ask your instructor for advice on how to practice. Not knowing how to practice has stood in the way of my getting good. It took me years of frustration to finally look up good practice technique and now it's like I'm starting over.*

Especially, what I learned when I "started over" was to practice with a metronome, not practice mistakes, and record myself in order to be able to know my weak spots.

"Not practicing mistakes" means if you mess up at the same place every time in a piece of music, practice playing *that part* over and over -- don't play the parts you're confident at leading up to the crash -- you'll just play yourself into the crash over and over. That to me has been the death of improvement.

Good luck, and enjoy yourself!

*To be fair to Mrs. Sally Nelson, my piano teacher of many years ago, she might very well have encouraged me in proper practice technique and I might have ignored her.
posted by Infinity_8 at 9:53 AM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you work at this every day and work through the initial finger pain, yes, you can be pretty decent after three months. Not great, but pretty decent.
posted by Decani at 3:23 PM on February 21, 2012

As above. If you commit to 2 lessons a week and 2 hours a day of practice for 3 months, the results will surprise you. You will also need a tuner and a metronome of some description. iPhone/iPod/iPad apps are fine for this.

No, you won't be great or anything, but you may find a solid basis for a way forward, which is really its own reward.

Please don't skimp on the lessons — a good teacher can save you a boatload of time when you start to play. They can also advise on setup, what instrument to buy, how to change the strings, etc. — all things you aren't really equipped to know yet and I would think are difficult to really pick up from YouTube.

Good luck to you!
posted by Wolof at 11:13 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Absolutely you can be pretty damn decent if you put just a little work in. Go for it!
posted by saul wright at 11:07 PM on February 22, 2012

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