Pro Guitar Status, March 20, 2011

Mar 21 2011

An update on the bug I mentioned last week: according to this forum thread, it looks like songs that have different note charts on the Squier and the Mustang aren’t registering your high scores when played with the Squier. (So far I’ve run into the problem with Outer Space and Sister Christian.) Hopefully it will be patched soon, now that Squiers are out in the wild and people are running into it.

I didn’t play at all from Monday through Thursday. I was worried that that might impede my progress in toughening up my fingers, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case: probably if I were playing more, I would be building up calluses more, but I had noticeably calluses and tenderness on Monday, and I still had both on Friday. (Don’t get me wrong, the tenderness wasn’t painful or anything, I was just aware when I pressed on my fingers that I’d been doing something unusual with them.) And the playing that I did this weekend didn’t hurt, so my guess is that the calluses are helping at least a little bit.

Though it’s not like I played much this weekend: I only went through two tiers of songs, Solid and Moderate. (Both still on Easy, I’m sticking for now with my plan of going through them all on Easy before starting any on Medium.) But the Moderate songs in particular were fascinating to play. I’d been consciously avoiding looking at my right hand since I started; and, when I got to The Con, basically the whole song had me shifting on a single string between the fifth, seventh, and twelfth frets. So I thought: this is a perfect opportunity for me to start building up muscle memory by avoiding looking at my left hand.

And it worked great! Yes, I fumbled, but not as much as I feared. The visual feedback that the game provided was super useful: once I got used to looking at the screen, I could tell immediately if I was on the correct fret or not, and I could adjust my hand almost as quickly while looking at the screen as I could while looking at my left hand. This honestly looks to me like a way in which playing the game might actually help you learn certain aspects of playing guitar faster than learning normally would: it’s a great combination of focusing on muscle memory while getting feedback that doesn’t interfere with that learning.

Also, the selection of frets that that particular piece requires was very useful. Moving between the seventh and twelfth fret required a jump, so I had to get used to letting my hand move; while moving between the fifth and seventh fret was best done by putting my first finger on the fifth fret and my third on the seventh, meaning that I had to think about hand positions that would let different fingers work well together.

Also, from a musical point of view, they’re very useful frets to know: the fifth fret is a fourth up from the open string, the seventh is a fifth up, and the twelfth is an octave up. So, once I finished that song, I decided to try to play the remaining songs without looking at my left hand, and of course those same frets came over and over again. I certainly stumbled during the remaining pieces, but not nearly as much as I’d feared; and actually I stumbled almost as much with finding the correct string (both with my left hand and my right hand) as I did searching for the correct fret.

I’m really looking forward to playing through the remaining three tiers of music: there’s so much to think about here, in terms of training both my hands and figuring out how to select my hand positions. And I’m looking forward even more to moving on to Medium: I feel like I’m playing blind by not knowing what the underlying chords are. In fact, as much as I’m enjoying thinking about hand positions while playing a note at a time, that work may be almost counterproductive, in that I’m going to have to completely rework it when shifting between chords instead of using multiple fingers on a single string.

I hope I’ll be able to make it through the Easy songs next week, so I’ll be able to move on to Medium the week after that. Who knows how hard the Impossible songs will be, though, even on Easy; if they’re particularly difficult, I may end up overlapping those with the early Medium songs.

2 responses so far

  1. […] I’m amazed at how much there is to learn and think about even on that setting. In particular, last weekend I decided that I would stop looking at my left hand while playing songs, focusing instead on the […]

  2. […] weekend, I finished the last three tiers on Easy Pro Guitar. It felt pretty similar to last week: I stuck with my discipline of not looking at my hands, and I fumbled a fair amount, but not as […]