When I first started trying to play the guitar I thought “How hard can this be?” Answer: VERY HARD! Learning to play an instrument is difficult! And I find that learning to play the guitar is even more difficult than I anticipated. I learned how to play piano as a young child, and then clarinet in grade six, so I just thought that this would be like that. All I needed to do was learn the pattern of notes and off we go. The problem with guitar is that there IS NO PATTERN of notes! Or if there is I have not found it yet! Sure, I know the order of the strings, the names of chords, and can read music, but does that help me? Nope.
In playing piano if you know the order of the notes and how those notes look on a page you can theoretically play pretty much anything with some practice. I know what a C note looks like, therefore I can play the C on the piano because I know where it is. After C comes D (just like the alphabet!), and wouldn’t ya know it comes right beside C! Even on clarinet, you often just added or lifted one finger to move up or down one note. Even for chords on the piano the notes were in similar patterns. But in guitar this is not the case. If you want to play a scale of notes (that’s the 8 notes in a row that combined in different ways make up chords in that key) you can sometimes play them all on the same string, but if you want to play a chord, you have to play on a variety of strings with fingers stretched in all sorts of ways. And no, a C chord does not even remotely resemble a D chord.
So this has been my battle the last few weeks. I have been attempting to learn chords, and just continue to repeat the same 4 or 5 chord positions over and over until I think I have it. But then inevitably the next day I don’t remember any of them anymore! Then I’m back to looking at my chord charts every day…also, did you know that there’s multiple ways to play many chords? Oy. So confusing! This has been helpful though, as many chords are played using a barre technique where one finger (usually the index) has to span the whole neck of the guitar on all the strings. I’ve tried some of these with little success. Luckily I have been able to find out ways around this!
I have not given up hope though, and I am determined to learn to play at least one song! But, there are only a few short weeks left in this semester, eek! So my goal is to work dilligently each day on just one song. No more switching songs and getting overwhelmed by the millions of possibilities out there! The problem has also been that many of the “beginner songs” that I have found are ones that I have never heard of. I would much rather play a song that I actually know and enjoy over one that I don’t, but it’s been difficult to find these.
I have a few choices of songs that I would like to learn: “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift, “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt, “Teardrops on My Guitar” by Taylor Swift, or the Christmas classic “Do You Hear What I Hear”, but I’ll learn to play with the Carrie Underwood version (I found a great website for this one that plays a video and lets you actually play along while it highlights the chords!).
Which song do you think I should learn? Help me choose by filling out this survey!