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  • OK– what’s next

    Posted by the-old-coach on September 13, 2022 at 10:31 am

    Sorry to come back with yet another babbling post on this (or similar) thing.

    After my (now) almost two years in TAC, where I continue to learn, I still have this weird feeling or sense of being “lost”. Seems like it comes and goes.

    But this time around it seems different- maybe because I’m “farther down the trail” nowadays I guess. I can’t explain it, really, and I don’t want to overthink it- (because that may be why I feel this way in the first place).

    I play guitar almost everyday- stretches, warmup lessons, a random lesson from the past, the Daily Lesson, ~10 minutes of only chords and chord groups and progressions, and then usually ~20-30 minutes on playing songs– some original. Most days around an hour total- give or take.

    Don’t get me wrong— I am learning and having a good time doing it! But even with all of that………. I feel like I’m at an- “OK, what’s next” place. I only have so much time in a day to learn and practice- (they are different).

    So here’s the rub– if I spend more time learning something- it is at the expense of practicing something- (and vice-versa). If I spend more time on the Dailies, it is at the expense of working on- and/or playing songs- (again- some original). Etc, etc, (you get the drift).

    For my part, I also know that success only comes after effort– I must put the time in to learn and then practice (in that order) all these limitless guitar lessons and skills that come along- and I’m totally good with that.

    I recall when joining TAC there was a place where you declare your eventual goals, and even more than that, to declare your “90-day goal”(s) or something like that. I thought I knew what mine were, maybe both long- and short-term, but now I’m not so sure.

    Lately I feel like I’m a big dog out for a walk- and even though I recognize some of the points along the way, I have no idea where I’m actually going…….. (Should I just be OK with that, and “call it good”?).

    But…… I’m an over-thinking, Scadinavian-ancestry, male, just South of 70 years of age— and it’s just in my DNA to need more of a “plan”.

    Well, I guess my (2) goals are:

    To be able to just grab a guitar and be able to play along with just about any song I am hearing- (think campfire, a few friends, probably beer, etc).

    To be able to have enough knowledge to write and then perform some original music (likely in that same kind of environment).

    I fully accept that I will never replace George Harrison, or play at the Grand Ol’ Opry. They are both safe.

    But I –DO– want to find the best way to get to my goals…… and right now, the path seems pretty vague.

    Oh, I’m “going”…… but the trouble is……… I don’t know WHERE I’m going.

    Strangely- I hope there are others in the same boat as me, and that my ramblings will help them define what they want for themselves– and then find their own path.


    the old coach

    Val replied 1 year, 7 months ago 7 Members · 17 Replies
  • 17 Replies
  • N-lightMike

    September 13, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    Hello @the-old-coach ;

    So, when Lewis and Clark traveled across the USA, you could say they were “lost” the entire way. They were lost in the sense that they had never been where they were at the moment, and they had no maps of this area save for the one they themselves were making. And they didn’t know anyone who knew this area. And they had no idea how much farther they had to go or what they would find along the way.

    Yet, they weren’t lost. They had a very concrete idea of the path from where they started to where they were at the moment and had drawn a map. Second, they knew exactly where they were going… in a very vague way. Their goal was to reach the other side of the continent and map the whole thing. That’s it.

    So, one morning, Lewis wakes up and says to Clark, “What now?” And Clark says, “Well, we just keep going in the same direction”. And Lewis says, “Oh, of course, I knew that”.

    So, of course, you knew that. What are we missing? The real question is “Why are we doing this?” They had a commission from the President to map the country. Simple.

    So what is your commission? Why are you putting all this time on your guitar. You see, the answer to that question is what guides you and let’s you know you are still on the correct path going in the correct direction.

    Let’s take an example. “I’m on this guitar journey simply because I enjoy playing the guitar.” Now the only thing that changes is you are confident that the time you are spending everyday is the right thing to do.

    You may not realize it, but your 2 goals are rather vague in that they are very general. You have not given specifications. There are many excellent guitarists that may not be able to “just play any song”. If they are a studio musician or a guitarist in a cover band, then yeah. But what if they are a well known classical guitarist? Could they pick up an acoustic guitar and play any popular song you asked them to? Maybe, but not without looking up the chords or listening to the song. So, you must be specific to be able to get where you want to go.

    The second thing, writing songs. You’ve already written some, so why are you not feeling content? What more is it that you want? Do you want to record some songs and put them on Spotify? And when you do that, “Then What?”. See where I’m going.

    Stop worrying about your goals and find your reason. My reason is to write songs that help me process my feelings. That’s the reason for me continuing to play my guitar and get better and continuing to write songs. I’ll never be famous. I’ll never make money. I don’t care if I ever have any songs on Spotify. But I have a reason that will never end and it will always help me to define whether my time is being spent “correctly” or I need to adjust my course.

    Lately, I have been changing my focus a little. I am still pushing on “writing songs”. But I’ve already written a number of songs that I really like, but I’ve never played them enough to be good at them. So, will being able to play them better help process my emotions? Simple question, and the simple answer is YES. So, that’s what my focus is now.

    How about recording? Would making one of my songs a more complete production by recording tracks and adding more instruments and background vocals help me to process the emotions better? That’s a little more difficult, but I think yes. Take one song as an example. The first song I ever wrote is named “Gratitude”. Would the lyrics have more impact on my emotions if I spent the time trying to turn it into a production? Well, yes, I do. But what if I’m wrong? Well, I can always change course. But for now, I need to start playing songs with a metronome so I can record. Right now, I can’t record a simple acoustic guitar rhythm track and stay in tempo. How do you add more tracks to something that changes timing? That is a very specific thing that will take time. But I know that it’s what I want to do because it’s in line with my purpose.

    As always, Mark @the-old-coach , it may seem that I have spent more time helping you than perhaps I should. However, it also helps me. By using my own purpose and goals and steps toward those goals, I have solidified my own decisions. So I will say thank you up front for giving me a reason to do that. 😎

    MG 😀

  • the-old-coach

    September 13, 2022 at 7:12 pm


    Thank you for your well-thought-out answer- I loved it!

    As always- reading others’ viewpoints gives ME a different viewpoint.

    Your analogy about Lewis & Clark is great stuff when you consider that the only actual “land-knowledge” they had was areas they had already been. Maybe the only “constants” they had- (speaking simply)- were possibly the directions which rivers flowed, the different elevations they were at, mountains and such to reference to & from, the changing seasons, and the sunrise and sunset… (note– they hit the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon, which is about an hour due South of where we live). I agree that they weren’t “lost”, but didn’t know where they were going either.

    Maybe that’s where I am with guitar.

    I have thought that it seems when I “discover” something new-to-me guitar-wise……. I also realize there is now another completely new, huge, area of stuff to learn.

    The more I learn— the more I realize I don’t know.

    Like a long— never-ending— hallway with many doors on both sides, all partially open. Do I just walk on by, do I “peek” in but keep walking, or do I walk right in and explore/ stay awhile.

    I agree that I need to focus more on my “reason” for playing guitar in the first place, and also maybe that my vague- (that wasn’t a very clear description)- goals reflect my level of overall guitar knowledge.

    Hell, maybe I’m just lazy in the area of pursuing the actual l-e-a-r-n-i-n-g of guitar and music theory. I can see that. And I am amazed at some of the comments it here about how easy it is to do this or that—- while I don’t have any idea of it.

    Like you- me writing this stuff out helps me, too. Lets me see myself in the mirror as I re-read it back to myself.

    Mike– as always– thanks for responding.

    Mark J

    • N-lightMike

      September 14, 2022 at 10:50 am

      Hey Mark @the-old-coach , that’s the beauty of music. You can go in a door or move on down the hallway. The important thing is you are in the hallway and you have options.

      MG 😀

  • jumpinjeff

    September 13, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    OK, here we go @the-old-coach , Your goal of picking up and playing anything was also my very goal. It took me longer to get there than I expected. After seven years of solid effort I can do that most of the time. I don’t need a chord sheet. I don’t even need for someone to tell me the key as long as I can hear it for a verse and chorus. The only way I was able to get there was to trust the process and follow the teacher. While doing that I spent time listening to other players, watching other players and dissecting songs one measure at a time. I used what I learned in FW and in the Daily Challenges and the skills courses to be able to do that. It was painfully slow at first but I went faster when I let go of time. I always had a song to work on. Some I have been working for years as they were to complex for the knowledge that I had so I stuck them back in the folder and give them six months hit the daily challenges hard embrace the repetition, seeking the boredom that makes you go crazy and push through that. Right there, that push, that is when the magic happened for me and I would acquire the skill I was seeking, the breakthrough happens and everything changes…yet again. Play a song 1000 times and you will have breakthroughs. Pick one you like, it helps. : ) Play that ring finger staircase 1000 times, you will have a break through. Seems like a lot but it is only 3 hours give or take. I found music proficiency, like what I was seeking, had a path that led through extensive repetition. I had to kind of lose my mind to gain it back supercharged. Embrace the repetition, you are ready. The results were surprising. Questions?

    • N-lightMike

      September 14, 2022 at 10:35 am

      Yeah, I love it, @jumpinjeff . I’ve been here over 3 years and I just now am ready for the repetition to the point it makes you crazy. But it’s so true. No knowledge, no special gift, no magic practice, no secret exercise, will get us to where we’re going. Ultimately, it’s repetition and only repetition. More repetition than I wanted to know about for a long time.

      Now? I look forward to that repetition. I guess that makes me a musician. I like saying that. I’m a musician. A guitar musician. A guitarist. A singer/songwriter. Yeah, a singer/songwriter absurdinaire. 🤣 I’m gonna go play guitar. 😎

      MG 😀

    • the-old-coach

      September 15, 2022 at 9:14 am


      As always, thank you for your insights….. interesting.

      I am also a believer that repetition is one of the main building blocks. I don’t know if I get to the point of “seeking the boredom that makes you go crazy”, but I do certainly believe it plays a HUGE role in learning and memorizing- no question.

      I do, probably showing some laziness, work MUCH more repetition-wise on songs or riffs or licks, etc, that I LIKE the sound of, and not so much on “everyday-type” nuts-and-boltsy lesson stuff. I still like that kind of work, of course, but I guess I play the stuff I like- more.

      The earlier part of your answer/post fascinates me also. “I don’t even need someone to tell me the key as long as I can hear it for a verse and chorus”, and also “trust the process and follow the teacher”.

      THIS is a skill I want to learn.

      IS this a skill- (figuring out what key a song is in)- something that is inside the elusive/ (mythical?) Fretboard Wizard course?– (seems like I read something about how to find the key by going up & down the low E string to a note that “sounds OK”, and then go from there into the chords, etc).

      I know that’s a lousy explanantion/question, and I know there’s much more to it than that….

      Anyway– what you have there- (ability to just hear a song, monkey with it for a bit, and then take off playin’ it– is a skill I really WANT).

      For my part, I think I’m headed that way, but still working on “background/prep” stuff- (chord groups, progressions, transitions, etc)- that will make learning the “play-by-ear” skill easi-ER once I’m ready.

      Learning to take off playing by ear is one of my MAIN goals in playing guitar.

      Anyway- as always- again- thank you for your insights. This is GREAT stuff to chew on!

      the old coach

      • jumpinjeff

        September 15, 2022 at 12:30 pm

        Yep this is a total learned skill. It is almost a trick and then overtime with messing around with it (hint, reps) it gets easier and easier. And yes it starts by using the E string or the A or if you are more attuned to the higher notes the B string (my personal favorite because I see the fretboard easily through the use of the D shape and the B string is the root) I was not born with a great ear. I have been able to develop it through training. I say, based on my experience it is a learned skill.

  • Cadgirl

    September 14, 2022 at 4:18 am

    @the-old-coach , The dailies are great to do. Gets you going, shows you different picks and strums. But, I want to play at least 10 songs by memory. So if someone hands me a guitar and says, “I heard you can play” I’ll be able to play at least 10 songs. Concentrate on the ones you love, it will make it easier.

    This is something I just started doing (along with learning my 10 songs) which is helping me out. I sit down and figure out the melody. Yesterday by the Beatles is an easy song. Just sit, hear it in your head and try to find the notes (i write them down as i go). Cheat and just get the first note down and go from there.

    I have been listening to Billy Strings (bluegrass). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6U6NCvOfl8 . The video shows a lot of close ups of their hands while they are playing the guitar. I have decided to learn Bluegrass. The flat picking Tony shows really helped me here. I’m doing the same thing. Hear it in my head and give it a go. I think i have 3 or 4 notes written down so far. de de dedal de de de dedal de de de dedal de de. Go to the Song Vault, there is a song on the flat picking side called ‘Bluegrass Rhythm’. It’s not too hard and it reminds me of the challenges.

    I hope this helps with your question. Right now, I have forgotten what the question was and might just be rambling to myself.

    • N-lightMike

      September 14, 2022 at 10:49 am

      HaHaHa, @Cadgirl , I love your rambling. You are on the right path for sure. I’m not a fan of bluegrass, but it has a definite technique and sound so that you can hear that and develop that. And there’s so many genres you could play if you can play bluegrass.

      Anyway, figuring out melodies is a great thing to do for your musicality and guitar journey. But figuring them out by ear is the best way to do it. @jumpinjeff talked about repetition above, and I think that’s one of the 2 most important things. The other is training your ear to hear the music. So I love what you are doing.

      And on top of all that, trying to figure out bluegrass by ear will supercharge your knowledge of the fretboard. And playing 10 songs from memory? You got it, Denise. It won’t take as long as you might think. Great goals.

      MG 😀

      • Cadgirl

        September 14, 2022 at 11:39 am

        I swear @N-lightMike, it was the flat picking challenges that we have been having that got me onto this bluegrass kick. I was listening to Billy Strings the other day. I was watching the video and they the video shows up close, what he is doing. Yeah, ok, i’m not going to get as good as Billy Strings. But, I can play slow and figure it out. That is enjoyment enough for me. I just feel like I have gotten to a point in my journey where I feel good about my accomplishments with guitar. I have been working on memorizing 10 songs. But, when I started working on figuring out melodies it jump started my progress big time. Thanks Mike for all the confidence that you have been throwing my way. 🙂

      • N-lightMike

        September 14, 2022 at 6:12 pm

        I’m not sure you could pick a better mentor than Billy Strings. Melodies jump started your progress? Well, I think trying to figure out his tunes is going to do the same. And he’s a really down to earth kid. He gave a bunch of guitars to the elementary kids at the school he went to. Why? Because he started then and felt that was what kept him from going in a bad direction. And he certainly plays with joy. It’s fun to watch him

        MG 😀

    • the-old-coach

      September 15, 2022 at 10:04 am


      Thank you, as well, for your thoughtful reply!

      Your first two paragraphs are really interesting to me!- (kinda lost me in the “Billy Strings stuff, though…).

      Anyway, the second paragraph especially…… I read that maybe about ten times!

      To me, it is perfect. You have shared a simple and effective– step by step– method. Cool stuff.

      I tried to cut back on the long-winded response here.

      During my life I have actually owned two different Ramblers- maybe that’s where I get it😉.

      the old coach

  • the-old-coach

    September 14, 2022 at 9:58 pm


    “Stop worrying about your goals and find your reason”

    Maybe these are my reasons……… (I’m not really sure🤔)- in no particular order.

    A. I REALLY love the sounds that come out of my guitar. I really love just the simple pleasure of realizing that I AM CREATING THAT SOUND……. right then……. just me……..right then….. just ME. I know that may sound dumb, but it’s that real-time, “I am doing this… right NOW” feeling that keeps me coming back. That is THE **excitement** for me.

    B. I also consider myself a bit of a “worker”, that is, I kind of like a challenge. I think I like “pushin’ that boulder up that mountain”. Or at least I used to— maybe a bit less lately🤔- not sure. Seems like since I started trying to find, play and memorize my 5-10 “favorite” songs, and also since I started writing and playing my own stuff– I think I’m getting a little lazy on the Dailies and Skills courses in TAC. I’m doing them- just with quite a bit less enthusiasm.

    C. As far as my own songs goes, some or most of the songs I am working on are about things I’ve done in my life. Some of the time they are things I wish I could take back, but of course can’t. Or things I just wish I had done differently.

    Writing, finding lyrics and chord progressions, changing, re-working musically, re-working again, playing, changing again, and singing and playing— is all kind of a therapy for me.

    Is that what you mean by “process your emotions?”

    Anyway– Thanks again for answer/post(s)…

    To Jeff and Cadgirl—- thank you for your responses as well– and I will respond– but my brain is tired😜.

    the old coach

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  the-old-coach.
  • albert_d

    September 15, 2022 at 6:07 am

    I believe this thread topic is what some would call, “Being in their Cups”. I have no great wisdom to impart, but I do appreciate the introspective thoughts on each contributor’s guitar journeys. Like the old Spiritual says,

    I sing because I’m happy

    I sing because I’m free

    His eye is on the sparrow

    And I know He watches me.”

  • Kitman

    September 15, 2022 at 11:05 am

    Hi @the-old-coach , thanks for sharing your journey and experience. It has stated a super insightful conversation thread with some great ideas, thoughts and how others are making their journey. Like @albert_d I don’t have much to add here other than to share how I couple what TAC offers and reason I am here and playing.

    I have been a guitar geek for quite a while. However – a self taught dabbler for sure. I came to TAC specifically to improve my understanding of the guitar as well as learn new technical skills. TAC turned out to be just the ticket plus more (the community, Acoustic Tuesday, learning from other TAC members, a pathway to finding the virtual open mics, etc)

    The reason I want to into improve my understanding and technical skill is to better play and sing the music I love and speaks to me. My musical tastes are pretty wide and varied. The different skills and techniques presented in TAC are great. I also enjoy jamming with others and these skills help with that as well.

    How I integrate my reason and the TAC process involves something you mentioned about combining your goals. I have 90 day goals related to TAC (implement guitar routine, show upshow up, do daily challenges) and then a personal goal or two (for example this 90 days included learning 4 flat picking songs from the song vault as well as learning the C,G and D major pentatonic scales up to the 5th fret). I document these in the Guitar Journal and have check in points.

    Then I apply all the above playing the songs I love and want to learn (eg. How would that picking pattern sound, how can I work in that lick, etc)

    Finally, I came to realize what has been said so we’ll by all the folks that have posted – and especially how @jumpinjeff shared – the journey for learning and improving guitar takes time, repetition, patience and persistence. Having really truly discovered that (like over the past couples months) I decided to just slot in and enjoy the process and the ride!

    Well for not having much to offer I seem to have written quite a bit! 🤣

    Thanks for sharing @the-old-coach !

  • jumpinjeff

    September 15, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    @Kitman , you said it beautifully. This is the sweetest ride I have taken. And I have done a lot. Settle in, enjoy! That is brilliant wit. Fun 85% of the time and for the 15% when I get distracted and ahead of myself, I come and talk to you all here in the forum and get squared up again, settled in, enjoying the ride.👍💎

  • Val

    September 19, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    I realize internet isn’t reliable info but recently I was curious.

    I found a little post that indicated beginner guitar player category requires around 635 hours of practice to enter intermediate. At my rate it would require around 2 1/2 years. I think 635 hours seems reasonable as there is so much to learn.

    I’ve also read many times to break up the sessions: if you only have an hour a day, try to split it up a bit during that 24 hours.

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