Learning to play the guitar: like I did
If you are thinking of learning to play the guitar, here I will tell you how I did it as a self-taught, without having a guitar, a teacher or a method. If you are starting from scratch, some tips may be useful to understand how to organize yourself. What I have written is based on my personal experience.
With the excuse, we will see two or three concepts that come in handy in many contexts, not just for learning to play the guitar.
- Well, I was fourteen.
- I got it into my head that I had to learn to play the guitar.
- I do not know why.
It’s not that I didn’t have other hobbies. I was obsessed with drawing, with comics in particular. I was overwhelmed that when I grew up I would be a cartoonist.
Yet this nail from the guitar hit my head and there was no way to get it out: I had to play one.
But the road was uphill and I also had a couple of small obstacles to overcome.
1) I didn’t have a guitar and I didn’t have the money to buy a guitar.
2) Even solving the first problem, I didn’t have the money to pay for guitar lessons.
And if you’re wondering, no: I didn’t know anyone who could play the guitar.
Problem # 1: Finding a Guitar
Ok, to learn how to play the guitar, you need a guitar, there is little to do.
If you don’t have it, you have a problem.
To solve it, I did so.
- I took a plastic bottle of Coke and made a small cut at the base of the neck to turn it into a piggy bank.
- Every time I got a 200 or 500 lire coin, I put it in it.
- If I found one in the house, I made it disappear.
- When I took the change from the newsagent, where I bought my copy of Dylan Dog or Spider-Man (at the time it was called this: Spider-Man, not Spider-Man), I put the coins there.
- I only put in the big cuts. Today it could be done with € 0.50 or € 1.00 pieces.
Obviously the patience ran out long before the bottle: I opened it which was less than 1/4 full.
There were about 80 thousand Lire.
I went to a record shop.
I was so out of the world of music that I didn’t even know where to go to buy a guitar. Maybe I was afraid that guitars would cost more in a real musical instrument shop.
In the record shop I bought a classical guitar which cost exactly 80 thousand lire.
It had a cardboard case. A large trapezoidal box.
I got home like this, with all the cardboard. I was so satisfied with my purchase that even the packaging seemed worthy of my care.
Problem # 2: learning without taking lessons:
- I actually knew someone who had taken a few guitar lessons. A dear friend of the family, for some time, had been following a course at the historic Music School.
- I guess he wasn’t very enthusiastic, because, to my knowledge, he gave up after a short time.
- But he gave me a nice hand: he explained how to tune the guitar by ear and lent me a booklet for beginners. There were guitar chords shown with the chord chart system.
- I had never seen those diagrams and it took me a few days to figure out how to read them.
So what then?
And so nothing, every now and then I went back to the guitar, I practiced making those four chords and then that’s it. I mean, it’s not that I really wanted to play stuff like Sapore di sale by Gino Paoli.
Because in that little book there were songs of this kind.
- More than a year passed. Then I went back to that record shop.
- There was an exhibitor with song scores.
- I found the chord book of U2’s Achtung Baby. I bought it.
- I was obsessed with U2.
- And I was obsessed with that record.
- When it becomes a craze
- A couple of months later I was playing all the songs on the album.
- Well, all except those in which there were agreements with the barrè. It took me many months to learn how to make the bar. I had weak little hands.
- With the guitar, those with soft hands must have a hard head.
- And in fact by dint of trying, I was able to make a Fa chord.
Anyway, at that point I was always with the guitar in my hand. If I left, I always took it with me.
I sang and strummed whenever I had time. And even when I didn’t have time, in the sense that instead of studying I was playing.
In addition to being dragged by my mates into the formations of different bands, I managed to convince my parents that this music business was serious. So I got paid for guitar lessons.
Well, didn’t you think I learned everything by myself?
It’s not that it can’t be done, but it doesn’t make sense. There comes a time when you have to get someone to explain things to you who already knows them, otherwise you risk making a beastly effort to get poor results.
Learning to play the guitar: let’s draw conclusions:
If you want to learn to play the guitar, if you want to learn to do anything, there are some essential steps.
- Set goals
- Set yourself an achievable goal and stick with it until you have achieved it. The human mind works for goals.
- But it has to be a goal within your reach: if you don’t have the money, aiming for a $ 3,000 Gibson Les Paul is stupid.
- It is not that it is wrong to have ambitious goals, but they must be achievable.
- An unattainable goal is an excuse to do nothing.
- If your goal is too difficult to achieve, then you need to break it down.
- Create reachable milestones, things within your reach.
- The first stage is often the most important, because it has a great motivational impact: it is a very powerful push to move forward along the path.
A guitar with a cardboard box is a starting point. If you can’t afford anything better, start from that and then look for a way to progress, in small steps. You can try digital piano
Just getting it will turn your brain on.
Reaching a goal, however small, triggers something: it makes you aware that, if you want, you can really reach a goal.
- Don’t play it, don’t even look at it. Do things your way, feel them yours. You don’t have to do things the way everyone does. All does not exist.
- You exist.
- And you can only do things in one way: yours.
We are no longer in the early 90s.
We are in the age of the internet. While you are on this page, you understand that it is a lot easier to get information than it was twenty years ago.
Digital Piano can be another great option if you are searching for the alternative of the guitar. You can buy the digital piano lessons online if you are not sure about the course you can start from YouTube, It will help a lot.