Gamers who play musical instruments

Arise! (This got long, sorry... TLDR: having more fun than ever playing in a casual "band" with coworkers, and really improving in leaps and bounds.)

I've "played guitar" for 35 years. The quotes are because it ebbs and flows. I've never been great or even good, but I played in a band briefly in the mid-90s , and tend to pick it up every few years for a while.

I'm firmly back in my "pick it up" cycle and having a blast. Why? I'm playing with folks again for the first time since that band in '94! Some coworkers had put together a little jam band that played various mellow things. That ain't my bag, really, but the drummer received a little drum kit as a hackathon prize which now lives permanently in a conference room and he and a few other like-minded folk started talking about having "metal mondays". That's solidly my bag. So we got together one Monday -- I schlepped my guitar and amp from home, others did too -- a couple of months ago and banged out some music as best we could. It was rough but fun.

That has since evolved into Dark Hours, the Metal Monday (on Tuesday) house band for my place of employment. Every Tuesday at 5 the core of us, me, the drummer, and another guitarist, set up in the conference room and run through our ever-expanding setlist for about an hour. At this point we're essentially a Metallica cover band, with Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction our only (current) departure.

Every week we add a song or two to focus on. In the start we'd have to reset songs multiple times as someone would get lost. This was primarily because we have no singer... it's actually really easy to lose track of where everyone is when there's no lyrics. I'll revisit that more below. But over the weeks we've steadily nailed our setlist. This past Tuesday we only had to hard reset one song, one of the most challenging ones. Progress!

What's been most exciting to me personally is seeing my own growth. I've never really been able to play any song from front to back. Well, let me rephrase... any song I care about. I was in a band, after all, and I could play those. But those were for that band and not necessarily music I liked. I knew parts of dozens, but never had the tenacity or desire to learn the entire thing. Once we got going with this, though, I had no choice but to step it up. Learning all the bridge pieces and interludes, etc has been challenging but I can friggin' do it. Two examples: the aforementioned Symphony and Metallica's Harvester of Sorrow. For whatever reason I've never had the tenacity to nail the chorus of Symphony. I'd muddle through it but never really get it down. I spent maybe 5 minutes really studying it and now it's on autopilot (which I'll further discuss shortly). Harvester: the interlude. Never even learned the first note. Again, spent about 10 minutes and nailed it and then taught the other guitarist. Examples go on and on: the breakdown of Master of Puppets toward the end. The ending of Am I Evil, etc. It's coming super easy these days.

That brings me to the largest thing. I'm doing the singing. This is absolutely stunningly huge to me. I mean, I don't have the best voice but it's not about that for this... it's more just about keeping everyone in the same place. But I've literally never been able to do it because I've never practiced it. I've tried before but get lost in either playing or singing every time. Can't split my brain. Now I'm finally getting it. I started trying it several weeks ago and have kept it up. At the beginning I'd maybe get the first word out or drop entire phrases out but tried my best to stay in it. I noticed I was better at some songs than others but still had areas that I would struggle. And I do still have some songs I really can't do yet... Metallica's One verse is just impossible right now, so I stop playing while doing that.

But things that seemed impossible two months ago are things I'm now doing. Symphony was the first real success and probably our best song. Remember when I said I couldn't play the chorus on the guitar? Now not only am I doing that but I'm singing it at the same time. Enter Sandman? Could do the verses but the chorus and interlude were tough. Now I can do all of it. Perhaps my most amazing (to me): I'm singing and playing Master of Puppets all the way through. It's not perfect, but previously I couldn't really even attempt it, especially the chorus. Now, especially once I get warmed up, it just happens. Things are moving to autopilot or I'm splitting my brain or something.

Anyhow, I'm having a blast. Added a Tremol-No to my Ibanez S540 so that I can more easily drop tune, replaced the pickups with Seymour Duncans (which, honestly, didn't make an appreciable difference, much to my chagrin), and asked for a Digitech Drop Pedal for my birthday so we can add some downtuned stuff. Look for Dark Hours at a club near you soon! (Not really.)

That's sounds truly amazing. Congrats on your work house band!

That's amazing! I'm so stoked for your success and achievements!

That story warms my cockles. I won’t lie, I’m jealous. I wish I had a group of bros to jam with.

Brings back really fun memories of the mostly 90's alternative cover band I had with some co workers 10 years ago. We played Gin Blossoms, Weezer, Barenaked Ladies and similar things at our company Christmas party and were not terrible. It was super fun even though I couldn't memorize any solos in time.

Heh, solos are another thing. I'm living my best Hetfield life so leaving the Kirk solos to the other guy who has done admirably. I play the Master interlude solo and that's about it. However... I have elected to bite off Marty Friedman's Symphony solo because I love it. My goal is to have it at speed by the end of the year.

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

Tach wrote:

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

How are you teaching her?

Mixolyde wrote:
Tach wrote:

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

How are you teaching her?

For self-paced guitar, I highly recommend the mobile app "Yousician". You can use it for free, but are limited on the number of songs/lessons you can play per day or pay for an annual subscription (normally $120/year, but occasionally goes on sale for $75-100). The app lets you chose your initial path - lead, rhythm, and theory, but you can do any and all of them and swap between them at any time. It also trains piano, bass, and I thought I heard they recently added ukulele and vocals as well.

The lessons are focused and fun. As someone who has played around with many forms of self-paced guitar learning for the better part of 20 years, I can tell you this is one of the best options and puts Rocksmith and even subscription-based online training sites to shame.

vypre wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:
Tach wrote:

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

How are you teaching her?

For self-paced guitar, I highly recommend the mobile app "Yousician". You can use it for free, but are limited on the number of songs/lessons you can play per day or pay for an annual subscription (normally $120/year, but occasionally goes on sale for $75-100). The app lets you chose your initial path - lead, rhythm, and theory, but you can do any and all of them and swap between them at any time. It also trains piano, bass, and I thought I heard they recently added ukulele and vocals as well.

The lessons are focused and fun. As someone who has played around with many forms of self-paced guitar learning for the better part of 20 years, I can tell you this is one of the best options and puts Rocksmith and even subscription-based online training sites to shame.

Well that is really good info, and I will check it out, as I play guitar. I was actually curious about teaching her drums?

Mixolyde wrote:
Tach wrote:

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

How are you teaching her?

We have a lesson with a drum teacher at "School of Rock" type place. 30 minutes a week. It's all we really need, because like anything else, you need to be told what to practice, and then you practice that thing

EDIT: Oh, and drums are a great instrument for a kid to learn (if you can handle the noise). It's less 'technical' then something like the guitar or violin or whatever. They can be playing along with a song that they like on almost literally day one.

Tach wrote:

I am a very bad guitar player (Rocksmith trained), and my nine year old daughter and I are learning how to play the drums, because why should be one be terrible at a single musical instrument, when they can be terrible at multiple instruments?

My daughter picks up the drums incredibly quickly, it's amazing!

That's awesome! I hope she sticks with it! Kids truly do have such rapid uptake of new skills... if she sticks with it she could absolutely kill it.

EDIT: I'll post a minor little update on the whole house metal band thing. Nothing major, but still going. We actually can't do it this week because of someone being on vacation and couldn't last week because I was on a work trip, and I'm legitimately disappointed and bummed. I really look forward to it.

I did end up getting my Drop pedal for my birthday and it's every bit as cool as I hoped. I suspect "Sad But True" and Pantera's "Walk" will be on the menu if I have my druthers. I've been working on those at home and both of the vocals are almost impossible right now for me. I guess I should restate that I haven't even tried "Walk" on vocals yet... not having an easily detunable guitar meant that I've never worked on the guitar part for it so I'm mostly trying to get that going, but I suspect the vocals will be quite challenging given the odd syncopation of the guitar with the beat.

That said, the rest of the setlist is still progressing awesomely. Like now I've noticed I'm working on getting my voice to sound better and working on my tone rather than just keeping time and, hopefully, pitch. Additionally, and this is a bit hard to describe, but weirdly it has been hard to hold vocal notes as long as I'm supposed to while playing. Like even if I get the note out I cut it out too soon because holding it required more "brain disconnect" I was incapable of, if you get what I'm saying. Now I'm realizing that those holds and such are coming out and happening easier. As an example, if you know Symphony of Destruction, the "pre-chorus" parts have holds that Dave does. "Watch people's heads a' roll... a' rooooll... a' roooooooooooooll". In the past I'd get the words out but just cut them off. I couldn't think about the hold and certainly not the pitch change in the second one. Now, it's pretty easy. Similar for the rest of the songs. That's really neat to me.

My son (8 years old) has expressed interest in having me teach him guitar. I'm happy to do so, but I have never taught a kid before. Any suggestions on how to progress? He likes rock and metal, so I am leaning towards teaching him some power chords and going from there.

Fredrik_S wrote:

My son (8 years old) has expressed interest in having me teach him guitar. I'm happy to do so, but I have never taught a kid before. Any suggestions on how to progress? He likes rock and metal, so I am leaning towards teaching him some power chords and going from there.

I've found it easier to do something that's mostly on one string such as "Satisfaction" or "Seven Nation Army".

Independent practice is the key though. You can show him things, but he has to be willing to practice on his own, even if for only a few minutes a day.

Tach wrote:
Fredrik_S wrote:

My son (8 years old) has expressed interest in having me teach him guitar. I'm happy to do so, but I have never taught a kid before. Any suggestions on how to progress? He likes rock and metal, so I am leaning towards teaching him some power chords and going from there.

I've found it easier to do something that's mostly on one string such as "Satisfaction" or "Seven Nation Army".

Independent practice is the key though. You can show him things, but he has to be willing to practice on his own, even if for only a few minutes a day.

Good advice. Thank you.

Fredrik_S wrote:

My son (8 years old) has expressed interest in having me teach him guitar. I'm happy to do so, but I have never taught a kid before. Any suggestions on how to progress? He likes rock and metal, so I am leaning towards teaching him some power chords and going from there.

Have him pick a song that he likes and learn it together. Obviously you’ll want to pick something appropriate for his skill level. Don’t stay on the same song for too long. You can always revisit them. When he can play in time to the record he will feel like a million bucks.

RawkGWJ wrote:
Fredrik_S wrote:

My son (8 years old) has expressed interest in having me teach him guitar. I'm happy to do so, but I have never taught a kid before. Any suggestions on how to progress? He likes rock and metal, so I am leaning towards teaching him some power chords and going from there.

Have him pick a song that he likes and learn it together. Obviously you’ll want to pick something appropriate for his skill level. Don’t stay on the same song for too long. You can always revisit them. When he can play in time to the record he will feel like a million bucks.

For power chords, any Green Day will probably make him feel awesome. For non-power chords, "Horse With No Name" is a good place to start.

Also agree with single string riff songs.

Thanks all for your suggestions. I think I'll go with single riff songs for now until his hands are big enough for power chords. 7 nation army is good. Any other suggestions?

In other news, I was ready to pull the trigger on Overloud TH-U amp and fx simulator when our garage got broken into and all my spending cash is going to a new side door.

Also, Ian Dorsch of GWJ theme song fame just released a new song.

I'm thinking about picking up guitar again -- I had a year or so of basic lessons a long time ago, but don't remember anything except G / C / D / Em chords.

What's the best self-study method? I'm most interested in "campfire" type guitar playing -- acoustic, easy folk tunes and kids' songs, at least to start.

I know about justinguitar and see that somebody mentioned Yousician upthread. What else is good for self-paced study?

Katy wrote:

What else is good for self-paced study?

YouTube is a treasure trove of acoustic guitar lessons. Just decided what song you’d like to learn next and sample a few of the videos to decide which “teacher” you like best... or annoys you the least. Haha.

Katy wrote:

I'm thinking about picking up guitar again -- I had a year or so of basic lessons a long time ago, but don't remember anything except G / C / D / Em chords.

What's the best self-study method? I'm most interested in "campfire" type guitar playing -- acoustic, easy folk tunes and kids' songs, at least to start.

I know about justinguitar and see that somebody mentioned Yousician upthread. What else is good for self-paced study?

If you knw Em, you are halfway to playing Horse With No Name, which only needs two fingers to play.

For self-paced study I just used tabs of my favorite songs and pentatonic scales. Start with songs using the 'CAGED' chords and power chords, and add B and F later. A lot of 90s alternative fits the pattern.

Guitar Masterclass website has some cool features as well. I haven't actually logged on in a few years, but they always had free and subscription content including tabs and videos for many techniques, popular songs, etc. One thing I see they've added is video "classes" from many popular guitar players. After seeing an ad on YouTube a few days ago, I'm especially interested in seeing what Tom Morello is teaching.

I don't know if this has been shared but on Archive.org there's a huge collection of sheet music. I found it on r/sheetmusic a while ago and am too lazy to check to see if it's still there.

*edit because I got over my laziness*

Here's the link to the reddit thread...

Okay, with six months of drumming experience under my belt I'm now the drummer in a dad band. I'm the weakest link, but playing with other people is a completely different experience.

My approach basically boils down to: "attempt to maintain a simple and consistent beat. Repeat."

Tach wrote:

Okay, with six months of drumming experience under my belt I'm now the drummer in a dad band. I'm the weakest link, but playing with other people is a completely different experience.

My approach basically boils down to: "attempt to maintain a simple and consistent beat. Repeat."

That's awesome! My drummer in Dark Hours could use that message sometimes. He gets excited with fills and loses us way too often :D.

Silly question but is there any web-based collaboration music product available? I have a guitarist frend who lives in Texas, a vocalist friend that lives in Ohio and a drummer friend that lives somewhere else in Texas. I live in VA. All of us have full time jobs so this is very much a hobby for us and getting together with instruments is a logistical nightmare.

We are passing around MP3s and recording over the top of them using Audacity but this works about as well as you might think (i.e. not very well at all). Would be nice to have a site we could all log into and collaborate together or just work on a project as time allows.

tboon wrote:

Silly question but is there any web-based collaboration music product available? I have a guitarist frend who lives in Texas, a vocalist friend that lives in Ohio and a drummer friend that lives somewhere else in Texas. I live in VA. All of us have full time jobs so this is very much a hobby for us and getting together with instruments is a logistical nightmare.

We are passing around MP3s and recording over the top of them using Audacity but this works about as well as you might think (i.e. not very well at all). Would be nice to have a site we could all log into and collaborate together or just work on a project as time allows.

I’d recommend a free Dropbox account for everyone and a portable install of Reaper in that DB folder. If you keep the project in that folder, everyone will always have the latest files. Make sure you install any plugins local to that folder too.

tboon wrote:

Silly question but is there any web-based collaboration music product available? I have a guitarist frend who lives in Texas, a vocalist friend that lives in Ohio and a drummer friend that lives somewhere else in Texas. I live in VA. All of us have full time jobs so this is very much a hobby for us and getting together with instruments is a logistical nightmare.

We are passing around MP3s and recording over the top of them using Audacity but this works about as well as you might think (i.e. not very well at all). Would be nice to have a site we could all log into and collaborate together or just work on a project as time allows.

Dropbox for sure as stated by Michael. Then you can share the Audacity files to each other without converting to MP3. Just remember to keep updating the version in the file name so that someone’s work doesn’t get overwritten.

GarageBand mobile works great too. I think it has built in Dropbox support.

I went to a guitar clinic with Keith Merrow last night, on the grounds that my main guitar is one of his signature models so it would be cool to meet him. It was, and he had a bit of interesting stuff to say in between playing some songs.

I wasn't really sure what to expect and I guess it didn't really help on my path to actually getting good. He talked about how he got to where his career is now and how he writes songs and produces music, all good info.

Famous musician clinics seem mostly to be code for “an intimate performance by one guy from a rock-ensemble”. A friend of mine likes to tell stories about the Stephen Perkins drum clinic he went to many many years ago. Perkins was actually trying to teach his drumming techniques to the small audience. When asking for a volunteer to participate with him, my bro was shocked that nobody else was brave enough jump in. So he got to do drumming exercises with Perkins for quite a while before someone else could muster the courage to participate.