The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Hello all, I didn't know where I should post this so under "everything else" it went. Be warned, this will be a ramble.

    In the last couple of years, I think it's fair to say that my enthusiasm and desire to play has fallen drastically. I haven't played my beloved Gibson ES-139 in months, only pulled it out today because I felt guilty, and I found no joy in it whatsoever. That's pretty much exactly what happened last time I played it, which was in April or May. Before that, I had two unexpected gigs in October playing with some rappers. Otherwise, it's hidden away in the storage space with my pedalboard, my remaining pedals, my amplifier, and the rest of my instruments aside from my main classical guitar.

    I've put a lot of time and money into that guitar, as well as music and guitar in general. I started taking lessons when I was 10 years old, and went to music school for upper secondary school. I worked in various trades and industries for a couple of years, until I got a job at the local music store where I still work. I decided to pursue my love for music and guitar, and moved across the country. There, I completed a bachelor's degree; popular music performance, principal instrument electric guitar. Every time I went back to my hometown during my studies, I worked at the music store, meaning I have worked there continuously for 6 years but with some breaks inbetween my tenures, of as much as 2-3 months.

    ... Then came 2020, and I moved back to my parents' house where I still am today.

    ... Then I began playing less and less.

    In early '21, someone I know put in a request on behalf of an adult woman who wanted a competent teacher. I was reluctant, but finally accepted. I found teaching to be quite fun, though only at this level - an already-skilled guitarist wanting to deepen their knowledge.
    It was a lovely while, and I really enjoyed the process of helping someone find their own answers. Unfortunately, circumstances led this relationship to end, and I was once more back to not playing at all.

    Out of nowhere, I got the call to play those aforementioned rap gigs. The money was good, and I would be going on without a proper rehearsal. It was a great gig, probably the most fun I've ever had on-stage in my life. It was exhilerating to get professional validation for my investment - ie being expected to show up without rehearsal and "do your own thing" on the songs, including some unreleased tracks. I had a blast, and their pianist leaned in after one song and said "already you're my favorite guitarist I've ever played with".
    They called me back for one more, and for a third, but after I asked for the details for the third gig, they never got back to me.

    Then, lots and lots and lots of time passed, with little guitar being played.

    Earlier this summer, a customer came by to try out some studio microphones. She sang the most beautiful Brazilian music I'd ever heard. She called in the next day to order a TLM 103 and I remarked upon her beautiful singing, as well as my own love for samba and bossa nova, and she asked if we could meet to have a chat. So we did, and we've been playing together since then. It's great fun and amazing music, but I still find myself NOT reaching for the guitar on my nights off. I'd rather go for a bike ride, or play frisbee golf, or have a beer and watch reruns of Big Fat Quiz.

    I quit my job this month. I have a 3 month notice period, so starting in November, I will officially be in the sprinkler fitting business in the UK. I wonder what will happen to my musicianship then? I won't bring my guitars abroad.


    I realize that this is coming off a little unhinged, but this is the nature of these thoughts. I'm a competent guitar and piano player. I will be in debt until I'm into my forties because I went to a private university to get a degree in guitar. Guitar has been my life for the majority of it. What now, if I've fallen out of love?

    Increasingly, playing is more frustration than it is joy. Even though I know I'm skilled, I still think I sound horrible. It's the strangest thing, I'm thinking "Wow, I'm really good and have gotten really far" and "this sounds like complete shit" at the same time while playing.


    ... At the same time, I can be taken out of this momentarily. At yesterday's practice, I had restless fingers all afternoon and felt a true and pure joy in playing over-the-top Cartolaesque basslines. We played some Elis Regina, and I got a feeling in my whole body which accompanied the natural dynamics of the song. In fewer words, I really felt the music.

    These feelings aren't exactly new. I had a nightmare project while doing my studies which really cracked me. I spiralled into a deep and horrible depression and eventually had to seek therapy - at the insistence of friends. Unfortunately, most of my 3 years in that vivid city are a grey sludge which I can barely remember. Thankfully the friendships survive, though I'd love to have more memories.
    I suddenly "snapped" out of depression at the very end of my second-to-last semester. I remember the exact moment, it was after a therapy session. It was too late to save my ongoing projects with due dates for december that year, but at least I felt fine about it. 2020 would be my year...!
    Anyway, the point was supposed to be that during these years, I often asked my second-year teacher about how to deal with not wanting to play. It became our weekly routine.
    For the third year, I had the guitar professor for one-on-one lessons. In frustration during a lesson, he exclaimed: "You're the only student I've ever had in 30 years who doesn't noodle, you're the only student I've ever had who doesn't want to jam/play!"

    I used to threaten my ex-partner jokingly with quitting guitar, but she said she'd never allow it. My point (trying to be) that it's not the first time I've had these thoughts.

    I don't know that I've got a consise point or question here. As I'm sure a reader might gather, I'm a little disillusioned with music, and I'm a little unsure of how to interpret these feelings and thoughts. I'm hoping that the lovely community here might have some insights. As always, I appreciate any and all thoughts on the subject.

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  3. #2

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    Do you get joy out of meaningful interactions, whether they be teaching or gigging? And without that joy, there is little motivation to "practice"?

    I think a lot of us go through that. I would love to get out and gig, but don't feel that it is worth exposing myself to COVID. So I don't have hard deadlines and goals. I am pursuing some casual recording with a friend via long distance, and I still pick up the guitar, but not like I would if I had a gig or a deadline.

  4. #3

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    I think it’s fine , it’s a process
    if you wanna play that’s fine
    if you don’t wanna play that’s also fine

    The Brazilian duo thing sounds great
    and the jamming with the rappers thing , cool !

    Give yourself some credit man , other people really dig your music , even
    though sometimes you can’t appreciate it yourself ....

    You can play ! that’s a wonderful thing

    we all go up and down with playing process thing
    ———————-
    my process for me , my motivation just comes from when i’ve got a gig coming up

    I want to make nice sounds for the audience (and me !) so i practice ....
    it’s simple
    i don’t want to sit there and play a load of BS

    dunno if that helps .....
    but I hope so

  5. #4

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    Your story is so familiar and frustrating. I've been a professional musician for 15 years and the last couple of years have felt the same for me as you describe.

    Two things have saved music for me:

    1. Playing multiple instruments and styles. I went to school for guitar but ended up being a pro bassist. Now that I don't want to touch a bass outside of a gig, I play guitar constantly. Find another instrument to renew your passion for progress and learning, or learn a different genre or style entirely on guitar.

    2. Listen to music. I want to play good music when I hear good music. The trick for me was good NEW music. I'll alway love the music I already love, but hearing a new player or album that I really get stuck on will buy me another 3 or 4 months of motivation to play


    You can also just not play for months or years as long as it doesn't hurt you financially.

    I quit guitar for 10 years while playing bass professionally. It took me 6 months to get my guitar chops back to a passable standard, and another 6 to build new chops I never would have had if I'd carried on for the last 10 years. I'm a little over a year in and feel like I never put it down. I can play all but the most challenging stuff that I used to play, which is not my aim anyway ( not interested in the high gain sweeping shred stuff these days)

    It's like weight lifting. You'd be surprised how quickly it comes back to you. If you're not attached to your gear, sell it. When the time comes to get back into it you'll get that extra kick of motivation with a new instrument.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackguard53
    2. Listen to music. I want to play good music when I hear good music.
    Go see live music:
    - Seeing a player who inspires you can relight that spark.
    - Seeing a player who sucks can make you so irritated that you go home and practice and get a gig :-)

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackguard53
    It's like weight lifting.
    Oddly, I just stumbled across this... resonates with several of the things already mentioned on this thread. Vision => inspiration => motivation...


  8. #7

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    At least play for 2 hours/day but smartly. So when the enthusiasm comes back, it finds you in better shape.
    And it will come back. It always does.

  9. #8

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    I also think that's ok. I think there can be concrete reasons why it stops being fun, not just a mental glitch. I've had several burn outs but I continued and decided to try to adapt because I knew music was important to me and it worked. I knew I just wanted to be a hobbyist and try to develop myself the best I can and not be a semi pro or pro.

    My first instrument was bass and I had fun playing in bands and being able to rock with the group and get catharsis while playing relatively simple stuff. I studied it in college, then as I tried to advance I realized it wasn't that fun as a long term partner because I couldn't really be musical on it with my abilities. Not a mental glitch - you can't really play that much music on bass by yourself unless you're a virtuoso.

    Took up piano after that and learned a lot and had fun being more musical but got burned out because it felt too lame to me.

    Decided to learn guitar since I like pop and rock. Happy I learned the instrument and understand it now but got burned out because I couldn't really do what I wanted with my abilities. Too left hand intensive.

    Now I'm at the Hammond and it's really fun. It's aesthetically pleasing just hearing the instrument to me. Since I'm a bassy guy. I can control the whole ensemble - bass, chord, and melody. It's less 'lame' than piano. It's always fun for me to work on jazz on it. It isn't the exact embodiment of all my music tastes as I like a lot of pop and guitar rock. But I'm not a singer or good songwriter so this is the best compromise for what is realistic between my abilities and tastes. I need a pleasing sound, I need to be able to execute somewhat complex stuff since I'm not trying to do simple pop but well composed with feeling, and it has to be fun to play. Getting a bass line going and the whole tune going with harmony and melody and changing sounds is so fun. I don't think I will ever view it begrudgingly. So I actually had to do some analysis on what would be the most fun for me to focus on given my aptitudes and tastes; rather than take it upon myself to solve the motivation problem by just staying the course and reach a certain level of playing or maintain a certain mindset.

    If it stops being fun and you haven't made a definite decision that you need to keep going because that's what you want long term for yourself personally or career wise then don't sweat it. Change styles, change instruments, take a break, or just stop, that's how it goes.

    I surfed from age 8-28 and learned the surfboard building trade starting at age 22. But I got burned out because the work and social aspect of it became too toxic. Now, I don't do it anymore and I don't dwell on it even though it once was very fun. That's just how it goes.
    Last edited by Jimmy Smith; 08-13-2022 at 04:20 AM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr quick
    I realize that this is coming off a little unhinged, but this is the nature of these thoughts. I'm a competent guitar and piano player. I will be in debt until I'm into my forties because I went to a private university to get a degree in guitar. Guitar has been my life for the majority of it. What now, if I've fallen out of love?

    Increasingly, playing is more frustration than it is joy. Even though I know I'm skilled, I still think I sound horrible. It's the strangest thing, I'm thinking "Wow, I'm really good and have gotten really far" and "this sounds like complete shit" at the same time while playing.
    Well I don’t think it’s that unusual at all.

    I don’t think we can self assess very well. Some days I listen to my playing and feel proud and other days I cringe. The same playing.

    I think it works best for me if anchor my interest in the guitar on the progress I make and have made. (Of course sometimes I compare myself to other players, but this in general is a bad idea and I know it.)

    I’m not saying this will work for you but if I choose things that I can measure my improvement at in ad objective way as possible it’s very easy to despair of my making any progress at all.

    Therefore, for me the nature of the practice tasks is key. Things like pieces of music, new tunes, exercises, rhythmic independence stuff and so on are good, because then I can say ‘oh I didn’t know this or couldn’t do this a month ago.’ (Of course things get forgotten as well which is annoying haha.)

    That way it takes assessment out of the realm of my subjective feelings and into something much more concrete. Lessons are obviously good too, when you have a teacher who gives solid, detailed feedback (which is not that common ime). It’s quite fun to do something musical that isn’t guitar; I did a term of Konnakol for instance and that was good fun (and again progress is very measurable.)

    Anyway don’t know if this relates to your specific feeling. I’ve definitely gone through periods where I’ve lost interest a bit. Usually I get interested in some other music thing for a bit. But there’s no rule saying you have to play.

    there’s also no point in guilt. If you and I were to give up guitar tomorrow, the world would keep on turning (and I say that as someone who is teaching and playing full time). OTOH nothing would stop us starting again in 10 years.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-13-2022 at 03:33 AM.

  11. #10

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    You are leaving a job in a music shop, to install sprinklers – in Britain, a country that is running out of water and power. Moreover, you will be moving in November, in winter, shortly after the average annual energy bill reaches £3,582. You are not taking your guitars with you, even though you obviously enjoy making music with other people.

    It seems you are punishing yourself.

  12. #11

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think many of us have similar feelings. I was a work-a-day musician throughout the 80s, doing whatever gigs were available (big bands, clubs, weddings, etc.) playing blues, jazz, pop, and rock. I also had a steady stream of guitar students, which I found very rewarding. But it all turned into a daily hustle and I couldn’t handle the gigging lifestyle, so I sold off all my gear and left music behind.

    During the 90s I studied and travelled, but didn’t touch the guitar at all and didn’t feel like I missed it. I moved between jobs as a high school teacher and college lecturer in history and social studies and spending time in Europe and the Middle East. By the early 2000s, I ended up in the UAE with a contract to teach international studies at a university located in Dubai.

    It was then that I fell back in love with the guitar. It happened while strolling around the city and exploring its Egyptian, Iranian and South Asian enclaves. Interested in picking up a set of tabla drums, I came across a small music shop that had a variety of instruments, including guitars. They were mostly budget models for beginners. I didn’t play much acoustic in my musician days but it felt good to have a guitar in my hands again. I asked the owner what were the nicest acoustics and he recommended Taylor, which I hadn’t heard of at the time. So, on a whim, I phoned up Taylor and ordered a custom built 712-CE. It arrived in a few months and I began playing guitar after each day’s teaching, figuring out some acoustic classics from the 70s.

    By 2010, I had moved to Japan to take up a full time teaching position and I resumed playing acoustic at home for fun. A colleague’s spouse was a pro musician and I was introduced to the jazz scene in the region where I lived. On a trip back to the US, I dug out my old copy of the Real Book (1978 edition!) and started boning up on standards. Even though I had played jazz as part of my job during the 80s, I now felt a real sense of joy playing jazz. After a couple of years, picking up a decent archtop and a Tele along the way, I joined local jam sessions, sometimes 2 or 3 a week. That continued until corona came to town and shut it all down. After woodshedding tunes, and once the scene picked up, I re-joined jam sessions.

    Being able to play music is a gift and an enduring joy, as several noted above. It’s just that we may not always see how that gift and joy relates to our daily lives. Today, I have no aspirations of working in music but I’m happy to have rediscovered guitar. From hanging out at jam sessions, I’ve even been invited to sit in on friends’ gigs and I’ve done a few solo shows at local music houses and cafes, just enough of each to feel the thrill of performing but also to remind me why I walked out of the business years ago. The river of life is full of twists and turns and I’ve learned it’s important to enjoy the journey. I hope you enjoy yours.

  13. #12

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    Find colleagues and friends that have some kind of interest in music. The longer I've been playing, the less important the actual performing is and the more essential is just hanging. Often that hang includes making music but really, it's just knowing good people.
    One thing that has become clear to me, playing is being honest. Playing well is being honest with who you are and if you feel fresh, your music is fresh. If you're you're not feeling the sounds, play the silence. Put the guitar away. Enjoy the company of those people and things that make you feel alive. That's music, whether or not it's on your guitar.
    Maybe that's not the answer you're looking for but it's something that works well for me and my friends who have a love of music.

  14. #13

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    For heaven’s sake, if you don’t feel like playing just don’t play. It isn’t a moral failing. Guilt has nothing to do with it.

    Playing guitar is an indulgence. Clipping coupons or making model airplanes is probably a more serious career/financial choice. You owe it to no one to play when you don’t want to.

    Worse, you risk turning a positive into a negative. I did that with surfing, and it has taken me years to get over that mistake.

    I grew up surfing. For anyone who hasn’t grown up in one of the surfing hotspots you may not know all the social bullshit that surrounds an otherwise lonely and difficult sport. My high school of 1500 students couldn’t field a full football team because all the best athletes wanted to be surfers (whether they actually could surf or not). You could say any heresy you wanted about anything: God, country, family —but never a negative thing about surfing. You were expected to have an orgasm, epiphany, and see the face of God every time you paddled out. To be touched by Grace was to get sponsored by Al Merrick, or Rusty’s, or FCS. I never was that good, but always close. Several kids I knew got free equipment, travel to competitions, or even real cash endorsements.

    In my mid twenties and early thirties I was something like you describe. I was living in a small apartment owned by my mother after a disastrous start to my professional life. My then girlfriend, now wife, had left for the Bay Area for work. The only “good” thing going for me was I could surf.

    Only thing was, I was getting no joy out of surfing. The weather rarely cooperated, the waves were ho hum at best, and there were easily twice the number of people in the line up. I cannot tell you how much guilt and SHAME I felt. I could walk to the surf (a huge luxury) and yet could not bring myself to go. People who knew I grew up surfing were always asking how the surf was, had I gone out? What did I think the waves would be like tomorrow?

    What was wrong with me? I could do this thing few other people did, and I did it well. People were paying millions of dollars to live in modest little homes around me just to be able to tell their hedge fund friends they surfed. Movies were made about how surfing was some kind of religious experience. I just couldn’t bring myself to paddle out.

    It became a vicious cycle. I felt guilt and resentment. When I went out, I actually had fun, but the association grew between surfing and guilt, shame, and loss. Eventually, the sight of my surfboards made me sick.

    Finally, after nearly a decade of this mental illness I told myself, “you don’t surf. You are not a ‘surfer’. It’s OK not to surf. You don’t owe it to anyone to surf”. I wish I had said that from the start. A persistent shame and related sense of failure lifted. I allowed myself to discover that I enjoy open water swimming and body surfing, but only when I feel like it. I moved away from the beach, and don’t really miss being right there. I still surf on occasion, but on my terms. I may go today. If I don’t, I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

    So if you don’t feel it, maybe it’s not the right time for you to play guitar. There is no shame in doing other things. Maybe you’ll come back to it, maybe not. Who cares? Don’t make playing or not playing guitar a measure of your self worth. You don’t owe anyone another musical note. Say to yourself, “I’m not a ‘guitarist’. I’m just a dude who plays the guitar really well when he feels like it.”


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  15. #14

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    I rarely play at home by myself. I find little to no joy in it as well. I don’t force myself or feel any guilt about it. I do try to arrange gigs, sessions, or even just jams at my house to keep myself playing as I do enjoy playing with others.

  16. #15

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    I can empathise with the OP. There have been many times I have felt disillusioned, ambivalent or depressed in relation to my guitar playing, myself as a musician and by extension life in general. This has manifested itself in a few ways. I did a traditional (i.e. classical) music degree and in my third and what should have been final year, I didn't take my guitar with me to uni because I wanted to focus on my piano playing, access to which I only had through the practice rooms in the music school building. It ended up being a miserable year which I failed, and while I did improve my piano playing, I realised afterwards that it was miserable because I missed having the guitar around, even if I wasn't concertedly practising it. And so in the fourth year, when I did bring my guitar with me and where I did graduate, I caught the jazz bug and spent subsequent years trying to play jazz guitar. But, though I had some small achievements (i.e. occasionally recorded myself and it sounded ok) my ambivalence has manifested in switching lots between jazz guitar and classical guitar, finally settling on the latter. So I consider myself a failed jazzer... who has a classical degree (I remember expressing some of this to Ant Law who said in playing classical guitar I was getting back to my roots - it didn't feel like that cos when I think of my favourite albums, they're mostly jazz ones, but yeah, ok).

    Anyway, I think the OP should exercise lots of compassion towards himself. Personally, I realised that I preferred to play pieces rather than improvise because it just suited my temperament more, so perhaps some experimentation might be in order. I too spent quite a lot of money on instruments I pretty much don't play any more. But I would always keep at least one guitar out which I would try to play at least a bit every day, even if depressed ...

  17. #16

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    I've been playing stringed instruments for 58 years. There've been 3 periods where I took serious time away for other things. For me it was really good. Each time I came back with a better attitude, more open ears and more love.

    Sometimes hard for us to remember, but there is more to life than guitar.

  18. #17

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    Dear Mr. Quick,

    I think you instinctively realize you need a break from something you've worked at since the age of ten - not a bad idea.

    Installing sprinkler systems in the UK is a fine idea. Try it for a good while (a year?) before considering going back to your original guitar-centered plan - is there a plan beyond becoming a good player? This is an important question. I do think you should take one guitar with you, though. It might come in handy for singing with friends & pints.

    In March of 2015 you were asking this forum for advice on songs to prepare for your university audition. I mention this only to reinforce my earlier point - you've been striving toward one thing for a long time. Take a break from that and just "look around" for a while. For most, life is a series of starts, stops, and course corrections. GOOD LUCK! This too shall pass.

  19. #18

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    I started playing during the great folk music scare of the 1960s, then did the surf/Ventures thing, then Chet Atkins/Merle Travis, then started listening to a lot of Wes/Johnny/Kenny. I ended up Vietnam during '68-'69 where I got a dose of Agent Orange leaving me with diabetes, a bad heart, serious PTSD, and the knowledge that I could be afflicted with any number of other AO related problems at any time. Got out and started playing in bands in 1970, got a job in a music store, then started my own full line store with major lines as well as repairing band instruments and stringed instruments for the local school system. I also started manufacturing speaker cabinets on a fairly large scale. All this time I was gigging at least two nights a week and most times more; I became in demand as a pedal steel player for recording. Got out of the music store because I couldn't compete with the 'big guns' and got a job as a civil engineering designer and, eventually a licensed land surveyor. I was still playing as often as six nights a week but was introduced to local community theater because I could read - first ever production was "Evita" - scared me to death but got through it. after several more of these, I was approached by a nearby Equity theater and did a lot of productions for them. Started doing a duo with an old friend who is a singer but he had to quit due to health reasons. That left me on my own after covid hit and I found that, if I didn't have a gig to prepare for, I didn't want to play. I've tried doing other styles - got interested in Celtic tunes but didn't want to put in the effort to learn DADGAD. I would like to get a couple hour's worth of chord melody and 'Chet' type stuff together and go do some assisted living facilities but I've convinced myself that nobody really wants to hear what I play and I'm never happy with anything I do. I feel like I'm forced to do a solo act if I do anything because I'm in a 'black hole' musically because the only musicians working are either playing 'tiki bar'/Jimmy Buffet or electric blues, plus due to the PTSD I just don't want to be around others anyway - I don't like people, especially musicians but would still love to play for an audience. I see a psychologist every month to deal with the PTSD but he's stumped on why I can't make myself play for me. I might play guitar an hour a month these days; I watch a lot of videos and get ideas for tunes that I could easily learn or already know, but I've kind of lost all confidence in my playing. Earlier this year, I rec'd a custom ordered Brook acoustic made to my specs for the express purpose of working on the Celtic stuff and newer fingerstyle in general - I have played that guitar less than 30 minutes since March - it's a beautiful guitar - I just can't make myself pick it up. I've got a great recording setup - I can make great backing tracks and record a CD to amaze my friends and family - I just don't. I'm stumped....maybe someday it'll come back. Have tried to find a playing partner but, so far, have not found anyone who can play at a pro level so I'm stuck with my looper and backing tracks when I do decide to play.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    For heaven’s sake, if you don’t feel like playing just don’t play. It isn’t a moral failing. Guilt has nothing to do with it.

    Playing guitar is an indulgence. Clipping coupons or making model airplanes is probably a more serious career/financial choice. You owe it to no one to play when you don’t want to.

    Worse, you risk turning a positive into a negative. I did that with surfing, and it has taken me years to get over that mistake.

    I grew up surfing. For anyone who hasn’t grown up in one of the surfing hotspots you may not know all the social bullshit that surrounds an otherwise lonely and difficult sport. My high school of 1500 students couldn’t field a full football team because all the best athletes wanted to be surfers (whether they actually could surf or not). You could say any heresy you wanted about anything: God, country, family —but never a negative thing about surfing. You were expected to have an orgasm, epiphany, and see the face of God every time you paddled out. To be touched by Grace was to get sponsored by Al Merrick, or Rusty’s, or FCS. I never was that good, but always close. Several kids I knew got free equipment, travel to competitions, or even real cash endorsements.

    In my mid twenties and early thirties I was something like you describe. I was living in a small apartment owned by my mother after a disastrous start to my professional life. My then girlfriend, now wife, had left for the Bay Area for work. The only “good” thing going for me was I could surf.

    Only thing was, I was getting no joy out of surfing. The weather rarely cooperated, the waves were ho hum at best, and there were easily twice the number of people in the line up. I cannot tell you how much guilt and SHAME I felt. I could walk to the surf (a huge luxury) and yet could not bring myself to go. People who knew I grew up surfing were always asking how the surf was, had I gone out? What did I think the waves would be like tomorrow?

    What was wrong with me? I could do this thing few other people did, and I did it well. People were paying millions of dollars to live in modest little homes around me just to be able to tell their hedge fund friends they surfed. Movies were made about how surfing was some kind of religious experience. I just couldn’t bring myself to paddle out.

    It became a vicious cycle. I felt guilt and resentment. When I went out, I actually had fun, but the association grew between surfing and guilt, shame, and loss. Eventually, the sight of my surfboards made me sick.

    Finally, after nearly a decade of this mental illness I told myself, “you don’t surf. You are not a ‘surfer’. It’s OK not to surf. You don’t owe it to anyone to surf”. I wish I had said that from the start. A persistent shame and related sense of failure lifted. I allowed myself to discover that I enjoy open water swimming and body surfing, but only when I feel like it. I moved away from the beach, and don’t really miss being right there. I still surf on occasion, but on my terms. I may go today. If I don’t, I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

    So if you don’t feel it, maybe it’s not the right time for you to play guitar. There is no shame in doing other things. Maybe you’ll come back to it, maybe not. Who cares? Don’t make playing or not playing guitar a measure of your self worth. You don’t owe anyone another musical note. Say to yourself, “I’m not a ‘guitarist’. I’m just a dude who plays the guitar really well when he feels like it.”
    I had that same experience too lol. The worst part about it is turning a positive into a negative. Really sucks life outta ya. I think once you reach that toxic point, you know it and you have to make a change. You may not have to quit, but a change is in order. For example, if I had stability on the coast, I would probably go surf now because it is fun. What burned me out was several things. I did have that competitive mindset that you were talking about, that nagged at me a little bit. Gotta surf cuz you're a surfer and be good! Cuz you have some talent! I was able to accept that I was ok but not the best. What made me quit / go on hiatus was I'm introverted and I got tired of being around a bunch of vibey surfers. Plus the labor of shaping turned toxic as well. If I got back into it, I wouldn't go back to so cal, I'd just surf some empty beach break in Norcal or something. So yeah, you can assess these things after you reach the toxic point - gotta make a change, but do I want to rework things and take a break or quit or what? If you still like some stuff, you can just take it down a notch. Or just stop, there's no rule saying you have to do an activity that is supposed to be for enjoyment like the others said.

    Where did you go to high school? I went to La Jolla High, blocks away from Wind an Sea. I had a blast surfing in my high school years and being down at Wind an in the summer body surfing. Got tired of the social aspect of it though when I grew up.

  21. #20
    I feel some similarities and some differences with your experiences. I'm a professional musician and songwriter -- or was. I'm not making any money gigging right now. I also recently moved back in with my parents. I supplement my true love of songwriting and performing with a church gig. I get paid to lead a band and lead the congregation in worship. The church couldn't give a flying fig about my songwriting and artistry. I feel barely seen. But it's a paying gig.

    I feel like I've lost my touch with songwriting. They used to fly out of me and I just don't have any mojo. Most of it is a function of getting older I think.

    The one plus I have is passion for guitar. I've fallen back in love with practicing and getting better, even though I'm not nearly as good as I should be. I was always a "three chords and the truth" guy and I'm becoming more familiar with the whole fretboard, learning to read music.

    I recently bought a jazz box, and I'm just loving it.

    All that said, I'm scared to book a gig because my last couple of gigs were so badly attended (I'm a solo performer).

    I really want to find some people to play with and get back out there.

    There's life in me yet. I have a few good songs in me.

    Mr. Quick, I hope you find your love for guitar returning.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  22. #21

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    During the bad covid time, both my wife (a pro violinist) and I lost our enthusiasm and stopped practicing and playing. Now with theater and orchestral work coming back, we work on the required music we need to to get by because we have to, but other than that we don't practice or play anymore. Once in a while I do some chromatic scales up and down the neck just to keep loose, but the creativity is lacking. It's depressing, I have become completely unmotivated. Strangely, I am still addicted to this forum.

  23. #22

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    So often people forget or are completely unaware that there exists an enormous chasm between "music" and "music business".
    Do you love music or do you love music business? If you view playing an instrument only as a means of generating income, stop without a second thought. Iirc it was Kenny Warner who wrote (roughly paraphrased) " no one will care or notice if you walk away from playing there is no shortage of musicians". This not to say that you should play non paying gigs, but if you don't want to pick up your instrument for your own pleasure, stop right there.

  24. #23

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    Another perspective: it is quite easy to be fickle or fall out of love when a person devotes so much time and energy to something they love . . . but can't make a decent, steady living. If you're a Jazzer, your opportunities for steady work were/are very limited and it doesn't help your head when you see three-chord guitarists who haven't bathed in weeks make millions. The impulse for artistic creation is a curse since there will never be anything that can really replace the feeling it gives you in your life and despite the changes you make to your lifestyle, it's like getting a call from your old girlfriend you still really love that wants to see you again. Personally, in the last sixty years since I first began playing as a multi-instrumentalist, there were two periods, totaling 16 years, where I never touched any instrument. And, yet, I listened to Jazz/Classical/R@B music daily and a day never went by that the thought of performing again didn't enter my head. For me, it is the real test of musicianship and personal fulfillment. However, the thought of playing/rehearsing again with inherently flaky musicians with all their quirks and idiosyncracies(my experience) wasn't the answer so I retooled 30 years ago as a part-time, working Classical guitar soloist and never looked back until 2 years ago when my sleeping Gibson called me back to my roots once again. My advice: if you've been bitten, go with the flow and try to manage it to your benefit . . . if you think it's gone . . . move on . . . there's always Majong or stamp collecting . . .
    Marinero

    P.S. I have never had a problem finding gigs as a Classical guitarist who also mixes in some Jazz and Bossa. However, Covid has had a major impact on businesses in my area since it began and it's just starting to open up again.
    M

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis
    ...The Great Folk Music Scare of the 1960s...
    Remind me Skip: what was that all about, and how did folk music manage to come out of it OK? :-) :-) :-)

    I hear you on loopers and backing tracks. That doesn't really get me where I want to go. My most fulfilling moments have been with other players. That's what's got me stumped at the moment. It's so hard to find the right people, and I don't even have PTSD. Sometimes I think it's because of the lower population where I live now, but I had the same trouble during the decade I lived in NYC.

    (that little auto correct cracked me up...)

  26. #25

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    The Great Folk Scare (here attributed to Dave van Ronk, but he attributed the phrase to Utah Phillips).