Frustrating Sound

Well, as you can see by the lack of posts in a while “real life” has yet again gotten in the way. Add to that an injured left wrist that makes it difficult and painful to play means I haven’t been playing and posting here as much as I would like.

But, I can’t blame everything on the real world and a bad wrist. Since this blog is about leaning the guitar, I should write about the good and the bad. The truth is, before life and limb got in the way I had grown frustrated with my guitar playing. In particular with my guitar lessons. And even further in particular with economy picking. As I posted about in a couple previous posts, my instructor Kit really wants me to break the economy picking habit and I seem to be having a problem doing it.

It all came to a head for me when I set out to properly re-learn Hideaway with the help of Kit. Since I learned the first part of Hideaway on my own, I wasn’t paying attention to my picking technique… I mainly cared about what my left hand was doing and let my right hand do whatever it wanted to do to get the sound (which is pretty much what I’ve always done) When Kit started going over Hideaway with me he wanted to make sure I was picking down beats with an downward motion and up beats with an upward motion. Now, if I had never learned the first part of Hideaway, this might not have been a problem (actually it probably would have been since I apparently have bad right hand habits). But, since my right hand was already set on picking a certain way, retraining myself was proving to be very difficult. This led to frustration and the frustration led to me not playing as much.

Now, in retrospect, I don’t think Hideaway was a great place to start given my abilities. It is far from a beginner’s song. So, because of that I decided to put Hideaway away for now and move on to something a little more manageable. I also told Kit that we need to forget about breaking the economy picking habit because it was frustrating me far too much which was taking away my enjoyment and causing me to play less and less (after all, I’m not trying to become a virtuoso). Kit’s response was that if that was what I wanted to do, we can do that… but, at some point he’s not going to be able to take me any further.

So here were are now. My wrist is starting to get better and playing isn’t as painful as it has been the last few months. I’m starting to pick the up the guitar more often and I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. This should mean more updates to the blog.

I feel as if I’m starting over AGAIN and that everything I learned over the last year is gone. I know it’s not all gone and it will come back, but it’s a bit frustrating to be starting over again.  But I still love my guitars and love playing when I’m just messing around and not giving a crap what I sound like.

Illustration by Erin Nations.

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23 Responses to “Frustrating Sound”



  1. Looking forward to more posts from you. I’m somewhere behind you in learning this fascinating, frustrating instrument and I enjoy hearing about your highs and lows.
    .-= Gordon McGregor´s last blog ..iPhone photography =-.

  2. Brad Fravel says:

    I have days when I think I am getting better only to have the next day prove me wrong. I am sticking with it, though, and I hope you do too. No virtuosity in my future either; just fun.

  3. Kim says:

    I am forever picking songs to learn that are way above my skill level. I actually think that’s not the worst thing in the world, but Steve Howe’s double hammer ons in the beginning of Roundabout feel like something I will never, ever master. I’m playing this at like, 1/4th speed. Very frustrating. But I will keep going! I hope you do too, and tell us about it!

  4. Dan says:

    As a beginning guitarist, I really enjoy reading about your struggles and successes. Sometimes I run into roadblocks too, and it helps to move laterally. For instance, if you are following some lesson books, and not enjoying it, put a bookmark in the book, and move on to another book or another author. Then come back to your first lesson when you are ready.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Ariel says:

    Hey, I feel your pain (literally – wrists and all: bike accident mangled both wrists semi-permanently). Your work here – with the site, with your playing, with being honest about it – inspires. I wonder if \Hideaway\ is a popular starter song? An instructor of mine assigned it, and something like four years later I still have to watch myself during some of the tricky bits. Interestingly, I have the opposite catch as you: I’m in the habit of trying to motor thru with *alternate picking* in every occasion, even when \economy picking\ (a relatively new concept for me) is clearly a better choice. My tactic is to recall what my best instructors have all said, that \real\ guitar playing isn’t about grand gestures, it’s about economy of movement, and a little like playing pool, in that with each phrase my movements should set me up favorably for the next phrase. It is anything but instinctive for me so I’m glad when people (like instructors, like you) share your experiences and insight. I do hope you’ll continue doing so.

  6. Kyle says:

    Yeah, sometimes life really does get in the way, but that’s awesome you learned “Hideaway”! Great choice…

    Looking forward to more posts,

  7. First, let me say I wish you a speedy recovery. I understand the frustration.

    There are low impact exercises that you can do to build up some of the muscle groups involved in playing guitar.

    For example, lightweight dumb bells are a great way to strengthen the lower arm and wrist muscles. Also, hand tension exercise devices can help with finger strength.

  8. Gerry says:

    Great idea for a blog! I for one would be really interested in hearing about how other learners are getting on. If you start posting again, I’ll be reading. Hope your frustation hasn’t got the better of you.

  9. guitar songs says:

    I feel for you. It’s good to know that you don’t give up on your guitars. Just take it slowly, step by step and you’ll be surprise one day that you make it. Good luck!
    guitar songs´s last blog post ..Special Offer Confirmation

  10. Anton aka LT says:

    It’s a pity you almost gave up this blog, because there isn’t much nicely done guitar blogs, esp. with well taken pictures.

  11. Luke says:

    The best cure for this is a techinque i read in some magazine.

    Learn, and let brain learn what you learned !

    Notice how better we are after a one day brake ? That how it works – it takes some time.
    Luke´s last blog post ..Get a degree fast

  12. Efren Julius says:

    Great detailed post about frustrating sounds. I am waiting for your new posts. Thanks.
    Efren Julius´s last blog post ..Five Tips for How To Trade Successfully

  13. Jaren David says:

    I have friendship with guitar so,it is my favorite post and i hope you’ll must come back.I wish your success. Thanks for sharing.
    Jaren David´s last blog post ..Foto Macho de Monte, Chiriquí

  14. Shania Beck says:

    My husband knows how to play guitar so I was interested to know guitar too but I couldn’t do it. Thanks for sharing. Hope you’ll be back soon.

  15. I started learning to play guitar awhile back and gave up after a month. I am looking forward to resuming learning again because I just would love to know how to play guitar.

  16. Cathy says:

    I was pretty impressed wth your playing on hideaway. Teachers can only make suggestions – you decide for yourself what to do. Look at the old blues masters – they learned the way they wanted to learn. Your teacher would no doubt not aporove of albert king playing his flying v upside down – but nobody can compete with his string bends – not even srv. There is good and bad to every technique.

  17. I have been trying to learn this for awhile now. Loved your playing on Hideaway. You haven’t posted in awhile. Would like to see some new stuff from you.

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