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Author Topic:  Visualization vs Memorization
Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 8:17 am    
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For me, visualization beats memorization hands down.

An example: Lately I've been working on complete mastery of the neck. With a diatonic like 10 string tuning like the eharp, that can be a challenge. Just pure memorization I've found difficult and certainly not immediate. I have to think about it. Always a bad thing.

But I discovered a little visualization tool that is making it very easy: I have a keyboard sitting next to me, and I play the notes on the keyboard for every fret. By visualizing the keyboard and the notes for each fret, I find I can instantaneously visualize all the notes on a particular fret by visualizing the keyboard notes for that fret. I can't do that by memorization.

By visualizing the keyboard, I have instant access to any note on the fretboard, while trying to memorize all those positions is nearly impossible.

anyone else have any good visualization techniques that help them?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 3:44 pm    
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For me it starts with memorization in a given key. With pedal steel, you kind of have to know where your 3 or 4 home positions are in terms of how many fret spaces apart they are, for any given key. After learning those positions in a 12-fret space, the entire neck can begin to be visualized as one position. That’s how I learned guitar, and a fret is a fret, y’know?

Of equal importance to being able to “visualize” relative positions is to understand the intervals that exist in those positions, and how they relate to the root chord being played in the piece. In other words, the maj 3rd of the I chord is also the maj 7th Of the IV chord, the maj 6th of the V chord, the 5th of the vi chord, etc. It is also worth knowing that within a two fret space in either direction of any of those home positions is the next diatonic interval on any string. So I think you could call that a visualization tool.

You are playing eharp from sheet music these days, so you need to visualize and memorize. If your process is working for you, go with it. However, I assume you still have at least 3 “home” positions for every key where most of the notes at frets 0, 5, and 7 (relative to the key’s position on the neck) are diatonic. Notes and intervals aren’t that different. The two-fret rule in either direction stilll applies too. Eventually, maybe you could invent some simple drills that could make the visualization process more eharp - oriented and not be dependent on the keyboard.


Last edited by Fred Treece on 13 Feb 2019 5:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 4:58 pm    
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Hey Fred, great post. You are right, there are about 3 different locations for the same chord. The thing about the eharp though is you think much more about the strings on each fret, then the frets themselves, because so much of eharp playing is designed to reduce bar movement through grips.

Rather than visualizing the frets, I'm trying to visualize the 10 notes on each fret. So, in reading a piece of sheet music, it is a matter for me to see the notes on the staff and visualize those notes on the piano which tells me what fret I need to be at and what grip I need to play the melody and the harmony as it appears on the page.

The goal is to know that A, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, G, A, C are the notes on the 8th fret without thinking about it, especially when site reading. Not there yet but getting better.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 5:13 pm    
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I don't understand why you need the piano to visualize note positions on the steel guitar. Confused
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 5:35 pm    
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I'm probably not explaining it well then. Not sure how to explain it other than each fret in the eharp tuning is a cluster of notes, with a lot of chromatics. Those chromatics mean that a lot of the same notes are shared by adjacent frets.

But there is only one "cluster" per fret which is easier for me to visualize as a run on a keyboard. When I try and sight read I translate the notes on the page to a keyboard mainly because there is only one place to play those notes on a keyboard. Makes it easy to visualize. I then know which "cluster" it is in which tells me my fret options.

It sounds bizarre writing it down, but it works for me.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 9:37 pm    
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Bill, the only way I can kind of understand your method is that perhaps you find it easier to visualize intervals on the keyboard than on your guitar. Otherwise, all you really have to know is the name of one note at a given fret and then it’s just fill in the string name blanks according to the intervals across the strings. For example, the intervals of your tuning go, low to high:
0—1 1/2—1/2—1/2—1/2—1/2—1/2—1—-1—1 1/2

So the names are, if string 6 is say, an A note:

Eb—-Gb—-G—-Ab—-A—-Bb—-B—-Db—-Eb—-Gb
D#—-F#—-G—-G#—-A—-A#—-B—-C#—-D#—-F#

For me it would be much easier to just learn the note names on string 10 up and down the neck and fill in from there. You can also cheat by recognizing that string 10 and 2 are the same name and 9 and 1 are the same. So knowing the two low notes gives you the two high ones. Only 6 left 🥴

I think Paul Franklin’s advice on simply “memorizing” intervals is getting through to me, because that has made it easier for me to “visualize” where the notes are on the steel, with or without pedals and levers.

I’m not trying to change what works for you, but maybe my blather here can be of use to you in your study. One thing I’ve learned in teaching guitar is that almost no two people are going to learn the same way or at the same pace.


Last edited by Fred Treece on 14 Feb 2019 8:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 14 Feb 2019 4:44 am    
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b0b wrote:
I don't understand why you need the piano to visualize note positions on the steel guitar. Confused

Fred Treece wrote:
The only way I can kind of understand your method is that perhaps you find it easier to visualize intervals on the keyboard than on your guitar.

Although I never learned to play piano, I grew up with one and learned to read music sitting at it. So I visualise music in a double layer of piano keys and notation. All the notes on the keyboard are laid out in one dimension plain to see. A guitar is two-dimensional (because you can play the same note in different places) and a pedal guitar is 3D and a bit much for the human brain.

I have never attempted the learn the entire neck note for note. I am not called upon to play in Ab very often, for instance. But I do know what chords are available at each fret and I can then find any note within that pocket.

I admire players who can decide to sit down and learn the whole thing methodically. My attention span only allows me to observe where the well-worn tracks meet and piece things together as they arise - what I call "magpie" or "jigsaw" learning Smile

Fred also wrote:
No two people are going to learn the same way.

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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 14 Feb 2019 11:50 am    
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Ian Rae wrote:
...All the notes on the keyboard are laid out in one dimension plain to see. A guitar is two-dimensional (because you can play the same note in different places)


The same is true for violin, cello, and double bass, so how do orchestra players get around this paradox? I'm thinking they're reading not only the note they're playing, but looking ahead at the next notes also, and figuring out the most "economical" way to play the melody. That is, playing all the notes with the least amount of movement up and down the neck.

Of course, I could be wrong. Confused
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 14 Feb 2019 1:18 pm    
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Good points all.

Donny, you are quite right. The visualization isn't meant as a final goal but as a means towards a goal. It is, for me, a way of getting to the point where the most economical means of getting from point a to point b is second nature.

The pathway to creating the new synapses in your brain that enable mastery has to be approached from different angles as we train both the left and right sides of our brain. The ultimate goal is to have those synapses so ingrained, playing becomes as second nature as singing.

In my quest to learn the eharp neck, visualizing the notes on the keyboard is one trick and one tool to get there. Might not work for everybody or anybody else. That doesn't mean I also don't memorize, hunt and peck, understand chord positions on the neck, intervals. It is just another tool in the box.

A story: the way I know my right from my left in a fast decision were someone is screaming go LEFT!! is I imagine I'm writing with a pen. Whatever hand the pen is in is my right hand.

I tried teaching this to my wife and she could never get it. It didn't work for her. She would panic anytime she had to make a quick decision like that. Brains are different.
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Last edited by Bill McCloskey on 14 Feb 2019 4:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 14 Feb 2019 4:13 pm    
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Male and female brains are different. Women have more connections between the hemispheres.
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