Thursday, April 02, 2015

Learning Guitar Part 3 - Trying to Fail

I haven't really practiced this week, but I think this next week I'll do better.
I'm going to try to get back into Rocksmith. I dropped off because I felt discouraged by not being able to play the harder stuff and that learning it is so, so hard. Learning an instrument is so, so difficult. Rocksmith tries to make that process easier by creating an easy to climb latter.

Really, the experience of playing is better than some practicing. Rocksmith helps learn how to move around the neck and actually playing notes. The notes aren't part of a song though, they're just a way to get used to the song. They don't feel like a song and that's sort of where I get discouraged. I don't feel like I'm learning, just that I'm pretending to play.

The reality is that I am playing, just not the exact thing I want to be playing. I also don't feel like I'm learning the song. I know learning a song is difficult, but each session is ever so slightly different as the song progresses through its levels to adapt to my competence. Since it's always changing, I don't feel like anything is sticking. The idea is to not play the same songs over and over again and to gain a breadth of abilities. Learning one song gains some ability, but at the end of the day you only know one song.

At this point, I'm still on like day 5 of the 60 day challenge. Being at day 5 makes me feel better because I feel like I put in way more time without much result, but being so early in the process makes me feel like I'm where I should be, even though I've spent so much time and effort into learning chords and how to strum.

Justin's course (at JustinGuitar.com) is totally different. It's more traditional with a slight focus on music theory. Rocksmith is just learning how to play guitar with a very small window into music theory. Both deal with the practice more than theory, but Justin is setting up the beginner to learn theory whereas Rocksmith just wants the player to learn mechanics of playing a song.

They're both very good for anyone, but Rocksmith requires less discipline I would say. Justin's course requires a lot of time and effort by the beginner. Rocksmith gets the player into a song immediately. There's no abstracting. You have a guitar, you're holding the strings, and you're playing the notes. It's all there without any build up. It's fun, but still very, very hard.

It's the difficulty that will deter anyone, because neither method is easy. Rocksmith says it's the easiest way to learn guitar, but it's far from easy. It still takes time and dedication. The upside is that practicing feels like playing a game and there is something alongside you telling you what you're doing wrong. Without a teacher, it's easier to do. It's cheaper than lessons and does a great job, but learning from someone will always be better.

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