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I know there's Lot's of very accomplished players on here, but also lot's of us, "learner's". Personally I've been trying to master the alternating thumb base and while I'm mostly making discernable progress.........it's gonna' take me awhile.

Personally I find if I start to get frustrated I simply play other stuff I find enjoyable for a bit but even if I only spend 5 minutes on the, "new challenge" every session I make myself keep at it; just not so much that I get frustrated and eventually it comes, mostly it's a surprise when it happens.

Learned a long time ago with work, when you get tired or thing's simply aren't working, it's time to take a break and come back to it fresh. My experience you just try to keep banging away at it you won't gain anything.

Trying to learn the new technique has made me think of this. And this: Helping son start farming, last summer on a hot, particularly frustrating day where it seemed everything we touched broke eventually he swore and threw a wrench, I laughed, and he asked how I couldn't get mad? I responded, "Oh, don't fool yourself, I threw my share of wrenches when I was your age, eventually I learned all that happened is I had to pick up the wrench, let's go for a beer and call it a day".

How do you deal with learning curves and plateau's?
 

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You must be getting older as well tee hee .. I just learn what I already know on a different instrument... lazy yes. I spent about 25 hrs one weekend learning a jazz run that I found on the internet. When I recapped my progress ...... yikes ... I managed to get the part up to about third of the correct tempo and the part was a blip in the song ... I will never learn he whole song but some of the parts I do use improvising ...keep at it it's good for your soul
 

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I tend to try to stick to learning things that are mostly my speed.. Most of my issues with learning so far are trying to understand theory and how things work together.
But I'll always spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day working at something that I think is a bit out of my realm of personal ability.. I find it's a great way to stay motivated, because I can actually see myself progressing every day, but I don't spend enough time failing at one thing over and over to get frustrated with it.

I might be learning really slowly, but I've got the rest of my life to figure it out.
 

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Do other music. Acoustic to electric for example. Rock to jazz. Etc.

Try something way harder for a while then go back.

Make peanut butter & banana sandwich. Settle in to Wheel of Fortune with a cup of tea.
 

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This is one of the areas where sight-reading music really helps...but isn't a requirement. Whenever I hit a plateau I grab a tune book off my shelf and start reading through pieces. They might be fiddle tunes, classical pieces, jazz melodies, blues songs, or whatever happens to appear. I warm up to a piece with conditioning exercises and scales, particularly the relevant scale, in several positions on the neck, especially ones relevant to the piece. I challenge myself with as many aspects of reading and interpretation as I can at a sitting (ie, until I tire of it), tempo, rhythm, harmonizations, etc.

There's a good page in the book, Scales & Modes In The Beginning, by Ron Middlebrook, that outlines 22 different chord progressions for a 12 bar blues in G. It's a good exercise to work the progressions using as many different fingerings for the chords as you can muster.

When playing a melody, whether by memory, ear, or sight-read, move that melody to different positions on the fretboard. Slowing introduce variations and improvised parts. Record yourself. Play along with yourself.

If you play other instruments, explore familiar tunes from your guitar repertoire on the alternate instrument, and vice versa.

Use backing tracks designed for jamming to force yourself to play in less familiar keys (so many guitarists are locked into a few select keys).
 

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I do exactly what you are doing! I warm up with something fun and then go directly to my new learning material for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, learn what I can for the given amount of time and then give it a break.

Depending on the degree of difficulty of my new material I might be able to tackle it within one practice session or days, weeks and maybe months.

I know that Stairway to heaven is not a particularly difficult piece to play but I had never finger picked in my life! With this song being very long and composed of many parts, this song took me 3 months to perfect. I play this song every practice session still. Not because I have to but because I want to.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Some people learn quicker then others. I never think negatively because sooner or later I will conquer the new material at hand

Learning new stuff has a lot to do with your mindset! Just keep plugging away.

The key to my personal success is never giving up.
 

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This brings me way back... I was then learning simple three chords pieces in tiny fake books, campfire tune... met barred chords... I would give a try to the new challenging songs among the others once in a while until the barred chords came quite easy to make. I guess my left hand was just strong enough then. Muscles have to learn new moves and get strenght.

Same kind of progression when arrived my fingerstyle appeal. Yes, chewed elephants a piece at a time. Easy three lines piece I can recall. And I used to buy a bunch of books filled with staffs and often times tablatures, but the sight of some of them just triggered nausea and vertigo. After a few years, I would once in a while open some of those books just to get a look at new stuff and then get surprised, smiling, because some of the pieces now appear quite reachable !

Exploring different styles help because it brings different ways to play, different chords, different phrases, and all that help develop your musical feeling as well as your dexterity on the guitar neck as well as your picking hand. Going from a style to another will help as you will see it when you come back to a formerly difficult tune.

Playing the guitar for yourself has to be fun. My practice sessions begin with warming up (easy pieces, scales, the way you LIKE) and end with satifying pieces to play. I give a try to new pieces somewhere in the session. By the way, I would play between fifteen minutes to two two hours, depending on how I feel... generally around an hour. As a rule, repetitive sessions are generally more rewarding on the long run than lenghty sessions.

Sure, some days, it's no use ! Had a bad night, too tired... interrupted practice session... just babbled on a few basic tunes not satisfying my leisure time. Sometimes I just give a try to a chord change or a progression I have trouble with : can I find another starting position to help my way through this musical phrase ? Sometimes, repeating the phrase without really thinking about fingering brings an answer... Sometimes just put the guitar back KNOWING tomorrow can just be a better day.

Once you are confident that practice just made you better, you only have to keep walking, sometimes slow, sometimes finding yourself almost running without effort, but going ahead... ;-)
 

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Hire a very good, motivating, teacher.

I've hit learning plateaus a couple of times over the years, and the solution, at least for me, was to seek out the aid of a good instructor. It's one thing to know you are in a rut - it's another thing to get out and for whatever reason I ended up not being able to progress beyond it on my own. I tried learning new challenging stuff, doing lots of random exercises, youtube instructional videos on different techniques and diving deeper into theory for an answer. In the end, it was really an outside perspective that worked for me, with someone else tasking me with doing musical things I would not have tried independently, and pushing me outside of my comfort zone.
 

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What everyone says here. Above everything else, try as hard as you can to leave your practice/play session on a positive note...Pun intended. Don't throw the wrench and come back to it next time. Pick up the wrench, put it away, take 5 minutes to play something that gives you a sense of accomplishment, and come back to that issue where the wrench was thrown next time. You might just find the problem wasn't as big as you thought it was.
 

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Just as an aside @brucew , even the accomplished players are "learners". Learning is level based. I have yet to see any musician or guitar slinger who is accomplished stop the learning process. Those learning plateau's are just a different level.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Small Victories!
So the alternating thumb base seemed to have me at a standstill, so I perused youtube and found some other fingerpicking type songs with "odd to me" finger rotations (for lack of a better description) and just set aside the alternating thumb for a week. (skip james, colter wall, son jackson, james taylor type stuff and also learned, "wild world"(just 'cause I always thought it was a great song))

This afternoon I thought I'd give When I lay my burden down a try, picked up the resonator.............and............it ................just...........happened! :):):)

Wife actually put down her stitching (she likes needlepoint) and came in to watch.

Now I wouldn't say I have it, "down" or anything, but........small victories. Now excuse my while I pour a burbon. :D

Tomorrow's music menu, well, wife's gonna get pretty tired of hearing when I lay my burden down.

Turns out you Can teach an old dog new tricks. ;)
 
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