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> How Long Until I Can Play Like You ?
Ben Higgins
post Jan 16 2015, 08:00 PM
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We see this kind of question all the time. Some variation on "How long will it take me to play like you ?"

The tempting but flippant answer one could give to such a question is usually: "As long as it takes."

But such questions are understandable and a necessary part of learning. I'm sure we've all been there sometime. But the difference is between those who are merely curious how long it may take and are willing to work on it regardless, and those who want a guarantee. Now, as you probably know already, I don't like it when people want guarantees. If you want a guarantee, buy an electrical appliance. I never had a guarantee when I picked up this instrument and I'm pretty sure you didn't either. Of course I looked ahead and wondered if one day I'd be able to play certain things but until then, I just kept going, day in, day out. The key is to just bury yourself in the NOW and don't concern yourself with how long it MIGHT take, because it is only a guess. What took one person years may take another person months.

Sometimes things take years, not because the physical effort demanded it, but sometimes because of the mistakes that needed to be made to arrive at that point. We might try something and keep doing it that way for a year or more and then find out a better way of doing it. That may carry us forward a few more years and then we make another discovery. Sometimes you just have to be ready for a new discovery. As the saying goes: When the student is ready, a teacher will appear."

There's one aspect of the "How long until I can do...." question that I personally find irritating. I just stumbled upon this article where a young artist, Pavel Sokov, gives a few of his pointers about success. Sokov worded it very well here and it wasn't until I read it that I realised that he'd put into words something that I've felt but couldn't say:

“Being upset that your first oil paintings aren’t turning out is almost rude in a way, because it is saying that you don’t think you need to put in the work to get your teacher’s results.”

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/13-s...-yo#.xl5K68rBnG

Basically he's saying that you don't have the right to be angry that you can't play like XYZ yet, because you damn well haven't been doing it long enough. Obviously this is something that occurs with (relatively) new players and / or people that have only just started trying a new thing.

Essentially, being good at something takes work. I get asked guitar related questions all the time in various places and I know I tell people certain things that they don't necessarily want to hear. In that moment, when I sense their frustration, I want to say "But this is what I had to do ! This is what it takes !" If they want me to sugar coat the truth I can do that. If they want me to listen to their excuses I can do that too but it won't help them. In fact, I'll be doing them a disservice by letting them lie to themselves.

I've been playing for almost 20 years but that doesn't mean that it would take 20 years to pick like me, or perform vibrato like me or learn to compose solos like me. I did a whole lot of other stuff and I also had massive periods where I didn't make any progress. There's peaks and troughs and very long plateaus. Oh, the plateaus. But that's not a quick and easy answer to write every time somebody asks the question and, let's be honest, it still doesn't quite get right down to the heart of the matter. So, I guess we really are better off just saying this;

"As long as it takes." cool.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Jan 16 2015, 08:01 PM


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SirJamsalot
post Jan 16 2015, 09:10 PM
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"As long as it takes"
Ben Higgins.


Make a great T-Shirt! smile.gif


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Phil66
post Jan 17 2015, 09:27 AM
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Nice one Ben cool.gif


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SpaseMoonkey
post Jan 17 2015, 09:51 AM
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Well this is good to know, I need like 3 more year I think to play like you Ben! laugh.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 17 2015, 10:16 AM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Jan 17 2015, 08:51 AM) *
Well this is good to know, I need like 3 more year I think to play like you Ben! laugh.gif


Nah, just pick up the guitar for about 20 mins every weekend and you'll be there in no time !! biggrin.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 17 2015, 04:26 PM
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I'd amend that to read ...
"As long as it takes. And you'll never play like _________. You'll play like you".


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Todd Simpson
post Jan 17 2015, 04:35 PM
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Great reply! I often went with "It Depends" but I quit saying that entirely.

I found saying "it depends" really started putting some students off. It does depend, entirely, on the student. How much practice is a given musician willing/able to put in? How much time out of each day is one willing/able to put towards being a better player?

The answer, in large part, will determine how long it will take to get "good". To make it more complex, there is no way to determine how long it will actually take as everyone is different in sooooo many ways. The short answer in numeric terms is "AT LEAST several years", just to put something resembling a number on it.

I get the fustration, I really do. I was a frustrated first year student at one point as well smile.gif We all were! It's part of the process. Also part of the process is the "what's the BEST/MOST effective way to learn so I can get to my goals as quickly as humanly possible". This is a very natural desire and seems to be a legitimate question from a first year point of view. Only with the first few years of learning do we come to the conclusion that the learning process itself is highly individualized and that learning how to learn, also takes time and that nobody can tell you what the "best" way really is. Folks can offer help and advice, but thats about it. It comes down to the student at some point.

The best thing I've found over the years, is try to keep students interested and motivated in playing and practicing. In simple terms, you won't get any better by simply wanting to get better. You have to PRACTICE. smile.gif

In a post a while back I spoke about how becoming a musician is one of the few things you can't really fake. You have to earn it and nobody can take it away from you once you do. Once you reach a certain level of skill, your ear, your writing ability, etc. Can stay with you your entire life. It's something you can't "Buy" or be "born into". Thats part of what always attracted me to it smile.gif Everyone you've ever heard play well, earned it.




QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jan 16 2015, 03:00 PM) *
We see this kind of question all the time. Some variation on "How long will it take me to play like you ?"

The tempting but flippant answer one could give to such a question is usually: "As long as it takes."

"As long as it takes." cool.gif


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jan 17 2015, 04:36 PM


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klasaine
post Jan 17 2015, 05:06 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jan 17 2015, 07:35 AM) *
The best thing I've found over the years, is try to keep students interested and motivated in playing and practicing. In simple terms, you won't get any better by simply wanting to get better. You have to PRACTICE. smile.gif


That really is the jist isn't it.
The 'talent' is the desire to do the work.


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Todd Simpson
post Jan 17 2015, 07:35 PM
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"On a practical level, Drive/Determination is indistinguishable from Talent"
~Some Dude~

I've seen students with high levels of innate talent that lacked drive, fall far behind students who had to work a bit harder but wanted it more.

Same thing seems to apply across the board in life and in general smile.gif

Todd


QUOTE (klasaine @ Jan 17 2015, 12:06 PM) *
That really is the jist isn't it.
The 'talent' is the desire to do the work.


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Phil66
post Jan 18 2015, 10:57 PM
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You have to admit though, things like this do fuel the impatience of the student.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWsDen3la50



Phil


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klasaine
post Jan 19 2015, 06:27 AM
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QUOTE (Phil66 @ Jan 18 2015, 01:57 PM) *
You have to admit though, things like this do fuel the impatience of the student.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWsDen3la50



Phil


The student just has to understand that Joe practiced 5 to 7 hours a day, every day starting at an early age. Jammed, played in bands and busted his ass to get good.
If one doesn't 'get' that, then the answer is ... "you'll never play like whomever". Simple.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 19 2015, 06:29 AM


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Phil66
post Jan 19 2015, 08:04 AM
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I know exactly what you're saying smile.gif People just look at things like that, as I used to, and think "He's 13 years old in that video, I've been practicing for 13 years and still aren't as good as him, what is wrong with me?". It's how people are including myself at times rolleyes.gif
Some people have an amazing amount of natural talent, when Satch was teaching Vai he was having to force himself to learn stuff even quicker than normal because Vai got things right really really quickly, I think many people forget the natural talent aspect. It's like when you here about Clapton and people like that who "taught themselves", they could manage it because they could hear where they were going wrong whereas most of us need an instructor to point out the flaws.
Hope this makes sense, you may not agree but I hope you understand what I am trying to get across smile.gif

Phil cool.gif


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bleez
post Jan 19 2015, 09:29 AM
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but like what Ken mentioned, when you think that at 12 years old Joe had already been playing for 7 years at probably 5+ hours a day. Thats certainly far more guitar time than the average guy will have done within the same 7 year period. Anyone with that amount of time playing will be pretty good regardless of any natural talent.

This post has been edited by bleez: Jan 19 2015, 09:32 AM


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Phil66
post Jan 19 2015, 09:42 AM
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I agree Scott, I'm just trying to point out that people don't see it like that. It's like people go to a teacher every week and moan they aren't improving, teacher asks "have you been practicing?" student says "not really". People tend to look at how many years they've had the guitar not how many hours they've been practicing, therein lies the root of the misconception smile.gif
Cheers
Phil


This post has been edited by Phil66: Jan 19 2015, 09:43 AM


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bleez
post Jan 19 2015, 09:53 AM
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QUOTE (Phil66 @ Jan 19 2015, 08:42 AM) *
People tend to look at how many years they've had the guitar not how many hours they've been practicing, therein lies the root of the misconception smile.gif

totally. ive spent most of my guitar playing 'life' with that exact mindset dry.gif kinda depressing when I think about it! huh.gif


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You say 'minor pentatonic ' like it's a bad thing
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Phil66
post Jan 19 2015, 10:13 AM
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Me too but now we know, we can make the most of now wink.gif


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Monica Gheorghev...
post Jan 19 2015, 12:18 PM
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I never had in mind this kind of question. I can't delimit a specific time for something where the learning never ends. I don't want to play like XYZ and that's it. I want to play like me, learn from XYZ and continue to learn more and more and more.

From my point of view (correct me if I'm wrong) things like "I want to play like XYZ" sound superficial. We have an image over skilled known guys and analyze them from our weak skill level. If you will play like they you will be satisfied? You will not want to learn more?
It's funny but most of the great musicians are not satisfied with their level. Everybody has some lacks even if we watch at them and we don't see this. Is obvious, nobody will play something that will sound wrong.
To be honest, I don't think that exist a musician which in a life can learn everything. But we can use our life trying to learn as many things we can wink.gif
I believe in the fact that every person must create their own musical personality. Learn from everybody but don't try to copy someone because nobody will remember a guy which play like XYZ wink.gif

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: Jan 19 2015, 12:53 PM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Jan 19 2015, 03:02 PM
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QUOTE (bleez @ Jan 19 2015, 09:29 AM) *
but like what Ken mentioned, when you think that at 12 years old Joe had already been playing for 7 years at probably 5+ hours a day. Thats certainly far more guitar time than the average guy will have done within the same 7 year period. Anyone with that amount of time playing will be pretty good regardless of any natural talent.


Amen.

And not only that, but when you're five years old you don't tend think as much about "natural talent" and other stupid words grown ups have invented.

How much time have you spend worrying about your ability instead of just doing? Such a waste of time and energy!

Starting at a young age sure has its advantages, but it has nothing to do with talent residing in ones blood (bla bla etc etc)

Kids are open minded and playful, and often live for the moment. These are the exact qualities I try to make people strive for, to progress fast on their instrument.

So if you can bring up these qualities as a grown up, you will outplay people in a short amount of time - guaranteed!


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jstcrsn
post Jan 19 2015, 03:06 PM
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love this read , just lightening the moment. I love every body talking about playing like XYZ, This band put out a few killer tunes so here you go with some bachround music as you read this awesome thread
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klasaine
post Jan 19 2015, 04:50 PM
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QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ Jan 19 2015, 03:18 AM) *
We have an image over skilled known guys and analyze them from our weak skill level.
It's funny but most of the great musicians are not satisfied with their level.


That's a very perceptive point of view/reference. Until one approaches said player's level of musical experience (notice I didn't say technical skill) one has no idea what that player is really doing or where they came from artistically. How they arrive at what they do is way more beneficial to you than the lick they played.

You want to play like ___________ player? Find out who ____________ player listened to and learned from.

Also keep in mind that an 11 year old has all the time in the world to practice and as Kris says they don't worry or even conceive of things like 'natural' talent or who's better. They play and practice because they LOVE it to death!

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 19 2015, 04:59 PM


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