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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:26 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Hey everyone!

I've been away from the boards for a while, doing college classes and trying to figure out where my life is going but also saving up for an acoustic guitar, which I was able to buy a couple weeks ago.

I don't have too much experience with guitars except that since I was 13 I've had an electric guitar that I've played around on. So I know a teensy bit about scales and chords. I can use a pick but I know you don't need to with an acoustic. I know about tuning and a bit about strumming.

What I don't know is how to read music, but I am working on it. I'm god awful at playing by ear and when I was younger I read a lot of tabs to play. I didn't grasp the idea of rhythm, strumming and beats until just recently. I'm self studying right now and so I've got a book on music theory, a book with some guitar exercises and a Mel Bay book on playing guitar coming in the mail, hopefully today.


I suppose I'd like to ask anyone who plays bluegrass or Irish/Scottish traditional tunes on acoustic guitar where they started. Did you learn to read sheet music first and then just start playing songs? I'd ultimately really like to learn to read sheet music for the guitar because in the long run it seems like a good thing to know, since I'm very serious about playing guitar. Not for a career, but for myself and maybe to play with others someday.

I would say that I'm not exactly musically inclined in the fact that I often have to be told that something exists before I can see it really clearly, like strumming patterns for example. I knew, when I was younger, that if I played the notes to a song that I was familiar with in a certain way that it would sound right, but if I played them in the right order but 'wrong' then it would sound, well, wrong. One day I read something about strumming patterns and beats and it just hit me that, a song isn't just notes and speed. You've got to play the notes at the right time!

To most people, that's something that makes sense right away. Not for me, hehe, but it hasn't really deterred me. It's just made me want to work harder to play. :) I've got a lot of years to learn anyway, but I'd like to hear some tips from others.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:36 am 
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Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 10:09 pm
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Location: Taneytown, MD
I am relatively new to ITM and am learning tin whistle and Irish flute but I've been playing a guitar for over forty years. In all this time I never needed to learn how to sight read sheet music, so I don't sight read on the guitar. A few months into learning Irish music I attended a session. Fortunately for me, I knew how to play all of the simple chords and there was a session book available with all the tune combinations along with the chord names. I had been playing a modified tuning since I played jazz banjo and put down the guitar for a while, but I remembered enough chords and could play the changes fast enough to fit in. I am currently working on improving my guitar accompaniment along with playing the other instruments.

I think that if you want to play the tune melodies, sight reading is real handy. But if your interest is in rhythm playing, knowing all of the simple chords is recommended. Starting off with knowing the right hand strumming for reels and jigs is a plus. Playing with others, your rhythm is important. I recently got John Doyle's DVD, Irish Rhythm Guitar from Homespun Video and I recommend it for the right hand techniques. His chords add a lot of flavor but they are advanced, so start simple and learn right hand techniques immediately. Doyle also gives tips for ear training as well.

Find other guitar players to play music with, regardless of musical styles. That helped me a lot throughout my life.

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Whistle and Irish Flute since May 2012


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:26 pm
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Thanks for the tips! :)

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"Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone. You are the one who gets burned."
- Not sure, but it wasn't me! A good quote to live by.


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