Getting good enough to play live

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i am hoping you guys can help me.  I am a perpetual beginner, been playing for 6 years having started off having lessons and got on well. However, teacher moved away, ended up jobless and progress has pretty much dried up.  I am stuck in a bloody great pot hole, only playing songs with strummed open chords, struggling to get barre chords (can play them ok once I have sorted out my fingers but just cannot seem to get to them in a song) and not got any finger picking or soloing skills.

I have done a few open mic nights and enjoyed it and would love to play live a bit more this year but not sure what I really need to be able to do to be good enough to do so. Can any of you help me please? This middle aged lady would really appreciate your help! Thank you!! 
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 5033
    My 15 year old daughter has been playing for 6 months teaching herself and plays open chord songs with capo if necessary and sounds great when she performs live, better than me because she sings really nicely, doesnt try to play anything too complicated for her and isn’t afraid to make a mistake. 

    It it seems to me that it’s a state of mind that’s required more than a level. 

    Just go for it. 
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 1271
    Sure there will be better educators than I come along but to me its that old adage practice practice practice. 
    As was said it does not have to be a virtuoso performance if simple strumming is working with open chords you have a basis. 

    Then pick a song and just break it down slowly getting the changes smooth, slowly working up to the performing tempo. 
    Once you can move through the changes I would have a basic drum machine or metronome running to help get the timing right.

    Once you have the changes down as you said in some ways it's a mindset to make that into a performance so your playing and singing work together for the song. 

    Never worry about not being overly technical I have seen some truly moving performances over the years over simple strums and a great performance of a song. 
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  • Phil_CPhil_C Frets: 76
    Weirdly this is the way I done it. 

    Played played and played all my songs until I played them more or less perfectly everytime. Even went through chord progressions if I had the song on in the car. 

    Before I knew it, I was playing songs without thinking about it. The singing just came naturally while my hands took the rest away.
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  • vizviz Frets: 6124
    Sounds like switching quickly from chord to chord would be a good thing to focus on, in a really proactive, determined way. @Old_Swanner has some vids / thoughts on this. 
    Change your search engine from google to www.ecosia.org - they plant trees when you search. Honestly, it's awesome.
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  • AntonHunterAntonHunter Frets: 119
    Is there anyone who you can jam with? Losing with other people often speeds up the learning process massively. 
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  • FuengiFuengi Frets: 1634
    munckee said:
    My 15 year old daughter has been playing for 6 months teaching herself and plays open chord songs with capo if necessary and sounds great when she performs live, better than me because she sings really nicely, doesnt try to play anything too complicated for her and isn’t afraid to make a mistake. 

    It it seems to me that it’s a state of mind that’s required more than a level. 

    Just go for it. 
    She has the advantage of a brilliant voice!  

    One of the guys at Water Rats (sorry, I can't remember who it was) gave us a great tip about using the vocal as a rhythm. Difficult to describe with text, but essentially he was saying don't slavishly follow the same timing as the track you are covering if it doesn't work for you. Use your own timing and vocal to create the rhythm. 
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  • JonathangusJonathangus Frets: 526
    Fuengi said:

    One of the guys at Water Rats (sorry, I can't remember who it was) gave us a great tip about using the vocal as a rhythm. Difficult to describe with text, but essentially he was saying don't slavishly follow the same timing as the track you are covering if it doesn't work for you. Use your own timing and vocal to create the rhythm. 
    That was @sev112 ;.

    And @pmbomb had these words of wisdom.  Which I'm trying to keep in mind as, like him, I did the Rock Project thing - but in just over a month I'll be doing my first actual proper gig in front of people who aren't family and friends.   Playing in front of about 120 people at a birthday / charity bash.  So if you've already done a bunch of open mics, you're already on the way.

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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 9526
    My father used to deliver teacher training and he seemed to boil it down to what you need as a teacher is only to be one lesson ahead of the class in order to teach a subject. By which I mean you can play a gig only needing to know what you need for that gig. 
    If the gig is jamming on bepop standards or modal jazz then actually that's quite a lot you need to know but if the gig is a 20 minute set of eighties pop songs at an open mic night what you need to know is the content of those eighties pop songs. 
    Full barre chords give you the ability to strum common chords in any key, move away from the limitations of open chords but in the context of any kind of ensemble playing they often aren't that useful. It depends but a lot of guitar parts in songs don't really use them that much. 
    If the aim is to play live then focus on what you will need to know to play live, maybe focus more on the kind of music you want to play and learn how to do that and put the stumbling blocks in your learning to one side.

    As a fairly poor guitarist and perpetual beginner I still managed to play dozens of gigs and used an F major barre chord for about ten seconds in all of that. 
    Sleep. That’s where I’m a Viking. 
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  • pmbombpmbomb Frets: 1097
    Fuengi said:

    One of the guys at Water Rats (sorry, I can't remember who it was) gave us a great tip about using the vocal as a rhythm. Difficult to describe with text, but essentially he was saying don't slavishly follow the same timing as the track you are covering if it doesn't work for you. Use your own timing and vocal to create the rhythm. 
    That was @sev112 ;.

    And @pmbomb had these words of wisdom.  Which I'm trying to keep in mind as, like him, I did the Rock Project thing - but in just over a month I'll be doing my first actual proper gig in front of people who aren't family and friends.   Playing in front of about 120 people at a birthday / charity bash.  So if you've already done a bunch of open mics, you're already on the way.

    hey nice to hear from you.

    savour your moment - it passes very fast. let us know how it goes.
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 4488
    Keep going with the Open Mic nights - technique practice isn't wasted, but confidence on stage is the biggest thing to get
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • Mark1960Mark1960 Frets: 294
    By the sound of things, it seams to me that you need to practice a little more as this will a) Improve your playing, and b) probably more importantly improve your self confidence. Try and practice every day for a short period (say 15-20 minutes) and see if that helps. Little and often is sometimes the key to moving on to the next step. Pick half a dozon songs you would like to play live, and get the chords nailed down, so you can do them automatically without thinking. There is no quick fix, just lots of practice (and I mean meaningful practice with structure). Good luck!
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  • BroccoBrocco Frets: 44
    Suggest picking a small collection of songs that have a simple structure but which have different things going on (entirely chord based, then something with a distinctive single note run, then something with arpeggio, etc) to offer progression, interest and a modest challenge when practicing on your own, then go and jam with others!

    A group of us in my neck of the woods who first met at one of the regonal jams organised by tFB now have a monthly jam going on locally, and we may even end up playing a few gigs this year!

    There are some great songs that do not have any lead parts at all, so don't let inexperience with playing lead put you off. As others have mentioned,  playing in time is a key thing to focus on if you would like to jam/gig, and have found playing along to tracks has really helped me with tempo and timing.

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  • Old_SwannerOld_Swanner Frets: 18
    edited February 6
    viz said:
    Sounds like switching quickly from chord to chord would be a good thing to focus on, in a really proactive, determined way. @Old_Swanner has some vids / thoughts on this. 
    Yep ... the systematic approach always works however miserably "keep doing it and you'll get it" has failed. 

    Blackjack said:
    I am a perpetual beginner ... struggling to get barre chords (can play them ok once I have sorted out my fingers but just cannot seem to get to them in a song).
    Your next challenge is to learn to change the barre chords to themselves ... see this video for the basic idea  (Did you ever get any joy from examining the Amaj9 to E9 change Viz?)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-93m83B8Qk


    When other sites and teachers leave you frustrated: https://www.taplature.com/ 100% Unique, 100% Effective, 100% Free!
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  • When other sites and teachers leave you frustrated: https://www.taplature.com/ 100% Unique, 100% Effective, 100% Free!
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  • vizviz Frets: 6124
    edited February 6

    (Did you ever get any joy from examining the Amaj9 to E9 change Viz?)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-93m83B8Qk



    Yeah, piece of cake mate
    Change your search engine from google to www.ecosia.org - they plant trees when you search. Honestly, it's awesome.
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  • viz said
    Yeah, piece of cake mate
    Hehe ... I'm sensing a little sarcasm but of course if it's not hard work then why should it make you better? ;)
    When other sites and teachers leave you frustrated: https://www.taplature.com/ 100% Unique, 100% Effective, 100% Free!
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 799
    I very rarely use 6 string barres
    i play mostly 3 or 4 string chords, and often just leave the top E open

    i usually play in either C or G, with a capo on frets 1 to 4 (very occasionally 5) so that I can play C scale chords or G scale chords
    This means I am always playing the same simple shapes over and over, and hence muscle memory does most of the jobs

    In C 
    Dm I don’t play the top string, so don’t need to move hand position to go from C
    Em is easy
    Fmaj I almost always play Fmaj 7, and don’t play the bottom string 
    G I play with my bottom 3 fingers of left hand, leaving left index finger to play the C on 1st fret B string, little finger often just plays the D on 3rd fret.
    Am is easy
    Bm I play in C position, just middle finger on B (2nd fret A string) and my little finger on the D (3fret B string).

    In G
    G as above
    Am as above
    Bm as above
    C as above
    Dmajor I play middle finger F# (low E 2nd fret) and ignore the top E string, but it sounds nice opem
    Em easy
    F# hardly play top3 or bottom 3 strings, but hardly ever needed

    So no B7, Bmajor, F#minor, C#minor, G#, Major 7th etc type chords to remember and move your hand round

    And almost all st all of those chords are played without changing my hand or wrist position!  Which is what it makes it easier



    remember, that’s to make PERFORMING (I.e. singing and entertaining the audience) easier!  It’s not to make the most beautiful, technically complex guitar playing
    (And for the theoretical of you, yes, I know I am actually playing lots of 7ths, 9ths, 6ths, sus4 and sus2 with that minimalist approach, but that’s no bad thing.


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  • greejngreejn Frets: 23
    Free guitar lessons on hubpages.com It's important to understand barre chords, it's not so important to play them, mostly I'll play 3 note versions, or using thumb over the neck when necessary, most gigs I will literally play 0 barre chords!
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 26001
    Blackjack said:
    i am hoping you guys can help me.  I am a perpetual beginner, been playing for 6 years having started off having lessons and got on well. However, teacher moved away, ended up jobless and progress has pretty much dried up.  I am stuck in a bloody great pot hole, only playing songs with strummed open chords, struggling to get barre chords (can play them ok once I have sorted out my fingers but just cannot seem to get to them in a song) and not got any finger picking or soloing skills.

    I have done a few open mic nights and enjoyed it and would love to play live a bit more this year but not sure what I really need to be able to do to be good enough to do so. Can any of you help me please? This middle aged lady would really appreciate your help! Thank you!! 
    I can probably help here but I'd need to know a few things.

    Are you playing electric or acoustic?
    How do you practice? Playing scales, or songs? Or just noodle?
    How do you approach practice time- is it a block of an hour or so, or do you pick it up and put it down a few times a day?
    Can. you harmonise the major scale?

    It isn't just practice, practice, practice- it is practicing intelligently.
    I've know people who play regularly and haven't really progressed in years because they are going over the same stuff they already know.
    With the right approach and the commitment to practice you can get gig ready in a few months to a year.

    One thing I will say that almost all students get wrong is to rush.
    When forming chords take your time to do it perfectly and work on speeding up perfect form over time.
    The wrong way to do it is to imperfectly form the chord and rush to the next one.
    All you do with that is to reinforce the wrong way to do it.
    It is much harder to unlearn a bad habit than it is to form a new but good one.
    Les miroirs ternis et les flammes mortes.
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 176
    Hey guys, wow what a wonderful bunch you all are! Thank you so much for all the great replies.  I have not had chance to read them all thoroughly yet but rest assured that I will do later and will reply as is relevant! 
    Got rehearsal at 6pm with my guitar buddy that I have done the open mics with but this is all about doing stuff solo! 

    Thanks so much, I really am so grateful to you all and will be back later! 
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  • clarkefanclarkefan Frets: 719
    Blackjack said:
    Hey guys, wow what a wonderful bunch you all are! Thank you so much for all the great replies.  I have not had chance to read them all thoroughly yet but rest assured that I will do later and will reply as is relevant! 
    Got rehearsal at 6pm with my guitar buddy that I have done the open mics with but this is all about doing stuff solo! 

    Thanks so much, I really am so grateful to you all and will be back later! 
    You're braver than I am, I envy you.  Keep On Keeping On! :)
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 1221
    I was too shy to play in front of anyone for years and years.  One day I plucked up thr courage to join a band and i realised it wasn't anywhere as scary as i thought and i haven't looked back since.   The worst you imagine happening won't ever happen.  Thr audience want you to do well and will support you. 

    Go for it. 
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 3195
    edited February 6
    Blackjack said:
     ...would love to play live a bit more this year but not sure what I really need to be able to do to be good enough to do so.
    You don't need to be good enough.  That was the whole point.
    Spirit of '78
    Get up and play first then get good later.
    EDIT cos I sound a bit preachy!  What I mean is that playing live is what gets you good at playing live. 
    The Rezillos, Top of the Pops



    During the Covid19 period, tFB are running a "phone a friend" facility.  Just to hear a voice, keep in touch, etc. , using "JitSi".
    There's a Jitsi iOS/Android App, or you can just connect from a browser.
    https://meet.jit.si/theFretBoard  |    pw: theFB  |    0121 468 3154  (pin 2491 5627 21#)   |  1000 and 2000 daily.

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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 791
    Stick with practising. Jam as much as you can. Lessons aren't always necessary, but could be quicker.

    Don't be afraid to jam with people you think are better than you. They might share tips. Watching them as you play along if they don't/can't describe stuff. We were all there.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 5731
    PM’d
    In my hand I hold a piece of perforated paper
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  • JonathangusJonathangus Frets: 526
    pmbomb said:
    Fuengi said:

    One of the guys at Water Rats (sorry, I can't remember who it was) gave us a great tip about using the vocal as a rhythm. Difficult to describe with text, but essentially he was saying don't slavishly follow the same timing as the track you are covering if it doesn't work for you. Use your own timing and vocal to create the rhythm. 
    That was @sev112 ;.

    And @pmbomb had these words of wisdom.  Which I'm trying to keep in mind as, like him, I did the Rock Project thing - but in just over a month I'll be doing my first actual proper gig in front of people who aren't family and friends.   Playing in front of about 120 people at a birthday / charity bash.  So if you've already done a bunch of open mics, you're already on the way.

    hey nice to hear from you.

    savour your moment - it passes very fast. let us know how it goes.
    Cheers, Matt.

    It's just a 'band' cobbled together from a bunch of ex-Rock Projecters, and we're only doing four songs.  Two of which have solos, and I know from RP experience that there's every chance my fingers will choose that point to turn to jelly.

    So, as others have said, it's a lot about confidence.  I make my living by standing up in front of groups of strangers and spouting - which would terrify some people - but I have no problem with it, because I know that I know what I'm talking about.  But stick me on a stage with a guitar on, and stuff that I can play quite happily at home gets twice as hard.  Which is almost certainly a feeling that everyone on here who gigs will recognise, or at least remember.  It's about getting to the point, I think, where you know that you're much more likely to pull it off than cock it up.  I know I'm not there yet.

    Oh, and so what if you only play songs with open chords?  There are literally thousands to choose from, and most people don't care how difficult the song is.  They just want to hear a song.

    FInally, to add to Matt's wisdom, I'll leave you with these words from the Anti-Nowhere League:

    You criticise us, you say we're shit.
    But we're up here, and we're doing it.
    So don't criticise the things we do.
    No fucker pays to go and see you.

    Just have a go.  What's the worst that could happen?
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 176
    munckee said:
    My 15 year old daughter has been playing for 6 months teaching herself and plays open chord songs with capo if necessary and sounds great when she performs live, better than me because she sings really nicely, doesnt try to play anything too complicated for her and isn’t afraid to make a mistake. 

    It it seems to me that it’s a state of mind that’s required more than a level. 

    Just go for it. 
    Thank you! Sounds like your daughter is doing really well. I totally agree, a lot of it IS state of mind.  Trouble is, my mind isn’t in a great state right now, which is why this thread is so helpful to me, knowing I am doing the right things to prepare! 
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 176

    Is there anyone who you can jam with? Losing with other people often speeds up the learning process massively. 
    I play twice a week with my guitar buddy and it has been really helpful. We have a lot of fun but I want to push myself more now and start going out on my own too! 
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 176

    pmbomb said:
    Fuengi said:

    One of the guys at Water Rats (sorry, I can't remember who it was) gave us a great tip about using the vocal as a rhythm. Difficult to describe with text, but essentially he was saying don't slavishly follow the same timing as the track you are covering if it doesn't work for you. Use your own timing and vocal to create the rhythm. 
    That was @sev112 ;.

    And @pmbomb had these words of wisdom.  Which I'm trying to keep in mind as, like him, I did the Rock Project thing - but in just over a month I'll be doing my first actual proper gig in front of people who aren't family and friends.   Playing in front of about 120 people at a birthday / charity bash.  So if you've already done a bunch of open mics, you're already on the way.

    hey nice to hear from you.

    savour your moment - it passes very fast. let us know how it goes.
    Aw thank you! It’s nice to be here! 
    I will indeed keep you all in the loop about how it’s going. It’s great to have something to work towards.
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 176

    Brocco said:
    Suggest picking a small collection of songs that have a simple structure but which have different things going on (entirely chord based, then something with a distinctive single note run, then something with arpeggio, etc) to offer progression, interest and a modest challenge when practicing on your own, then go and jam with others!

    A group of us in my neck of the woods who first met at one of the regonal jams organised by tFB now have a monthly jam going on locally, and we may even end up playing a few gigs this year!

    There are some great songs that do not have any lead parts at all, so don't let inexperience with playing lead put you off. As others have mentioned,  playing in time is a key thing to focus on if you would like to jam/gig, and have found playing along to tracks has really helped me with tempo and timing.

    Thank you! 
    I am pretty lucky as I have a good sense of tempo and timing (my guitar teachers words not mine, lol) and it is a big help.  I have got a fair collection of songs that I am pretty happy with and been playing for a while but also got a few new ones that I want to learn to. 

    Really glad you have got your jam group going.  Sounds like a great idea! 
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