What Kind of Guitar Player are You?

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Understanding how your brain works can greatly help you advance as a guitarist. There are two kinds of mindsets. Some players don’t even notice this for years. Usually after much frustration.


You must be thinking there are much more then two kinds of players, right? I mean, there is jazz, metal, country to name a few. That’s not the angle I’m coming from.


I’m talking about the way musicians minds collect musical information.


Y in the Road


Player 1: Some guitarists have a mind like a library. They catalog riffs, songs and scales to be accessed instantly. These players can study a piece of music and be able to play it verbatim, even after a period of time.


They can be on any given gig and apply licks from the library to any song. Players of this kind typically memorize songs quicker and retain them.


You can imagine this ability is great for tribute and wedding bands due to the large library of songs.  Often it’s required to play very specific exact riffs and phrases on a regular basis. It’s not an easy gig. Player #2  is also capable of doing the gig, but most likely will need to adjust the manner to which the material is learned.


Player #2. These players like to live in the moment. They’re always exploring. They are in the present at all times. Cataloging songs and riffs is not an easy task. They tend not to look back.


Players of this kind are more likely to understand the idea that went behind a favorite song rather then the whole song. They will often use this as fuel for new ideas. Think of them as musical free spirits (who wear deodorant and shower regularly).


It’s not as if they don’t like structure, just that they tend to get excited about un-charted territory. You can imagine this ability is great for songwriting.


In Through the Out Door


So, how does this affect learning? There are two paths I can go down as a teacher. If I know you’re a librarian player, I’ll communicate material in a manner that fits your natural direction.


I tend to teach in a less abstract manner. Note for note transcriptions tend to be more important to these students.


If you’re Player #2 I know you’re mining to fuel creativity. (I’m not saying player #1 is not creative). Ideas can be more abstract. These students are looking for the soft center in a tootsie roll lollipop.


These students sometimes like skeletons of songs. They want to understand the idea behind the creation more then the exact specifics of it’s execution.


Space Race


By nature, I happen to be Player #2. I can play things exactly the same every night if I have to. However, the idea of that doesn’t excite me. I don’t have a catalog of licks. I hear them as they’re happening and play them.


I like to live in the moment and feel what I’m playing. This means there are often subtle variations. I rarely play a song I’ve learned note for note. I stay true to the core idea, but branch out.


Delivery Service


I teach both types of students. I have seen students get frustrated because they don’t know what kind of player they will be. If you’re Player #1 and someone is teaching you the framework, you can feel like you’re not getting enough.


If you’re Player #2 and someone is teaching you note for note transcriptions you will feel burnt out. The information is too detailed with little room for expansion.


Part of my job as an instructor is to help you figure out where you’re heading. By doing so I can increase not only the productivity of the student but make it a more enjoyable experience.


This is because you’re not fighting your natural instincts. Are you a person who likes absolutes or abstracts? Take notice of how you learn other things in your life. This will give you a hint.


In a lot of ways learning guitar is not that different from learning anything else (except it’s way cooler).


A Test:


When you learn a song, do you sit and practice so you play each note exactly like the original?


Do you learn the basic points of the song and then interpret your own version?


There are much more factors that lead into deciding whether you’re Player #1 or Player #2. I just wanted to get tour mind pondering the idea there are two types of players. Two types of digesting information. Perhaps, for some of you this can give a clue as to why you’ve experienced frustration learning guitar.


Here is an example: Let’s say I’m teaching “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Everyone has heard that one, right? If I’m teaching Player #1 I’m going to focus immediately on the specifics of the fingerpicking pattern. They will thrive on the detailed specifics of the song upfront.

If I’m teaching Player #2, I’m going to start with an outline of the chord movement. They will want more of a sense of the song rather then a lot of strict details upfront.

They both will end up playing the song the same way. However, the way they learn it changes.


Force Feeding


A square peg does not fit into a round hole. Why try to make it? Use your strengths as a musician. Neither Player #1 or Player #2 are limited. Assessing the method one utilizes to digest music will aid quicker learning.


Choosing a path will not mean you won’t get the gig you want. You see, it’s not really a choice. The path has already been chosen for you upon birth. You just need to realize it.


Contact me about guitar lessons suited to your learning style


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Guitarist Mark Marshall located at 51 Macdougal St #264 , New York, NY . Reviewed by 11 customers rated: 4.9 / 5
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