How do I forget everything I’ve learned and just play?

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I’ve been doing weekly guitar lessons for the past couple of years, and my ability has improved a ton. I can play things that seemed impossible a while back. Theory-wise, I know my way around the guitar pretty well — arpeggios, inversions, jazzy 9th chords, and about a zillion ways to play a major scale. 

But I often find myself with a guitar in my hands, but I’m almost frozen by the theory. I’m not one of those people who thinks that knowledge gets in the way of self-expression. That’s obvious bullshit, and the only people I ever hear spouting it are guitar players. 

But I would like to be able to let go and just groove. Do you folks have any tricks to get the learnin’ out of your heads and just play? Sometimes I get it, but then I start getting theoretical ideas in my pretty little head.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17399
    edited June 8
    Go deeper into the theory and deeper into your playing.

    It just takes time, because although you've been doing it for a couple of years that isn't long enough for it to become automatic.
    It will come, just keep working on it.

    Try not to push too hard though- option paralysis often happens when people are trying too hard to play outside their comfort zone.

    Also look at how effective your practice time is.
    It could be that you are doing a lot of unstructured playing, which doesn't push you further up the tree as structured, targeted practice, designed to achieve specific goals does.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 774
    Mushrooms.

    ...but seriously get a trio, train it with any old chord combo and jam along. Before you do that, train your ears by listening to lots of music.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • smigeonsmigeon Frets: 70
    edited June 8
    I second @blobb's advice of listening to a lot of music. But also, a good external groove helps me a lot. When I can't play with other people, I use the "Drumgenius" app on my phone (played loud through my speakers): it's based on real drum samples as opposed to MIDI and has lots of really 'human' grooves. This morning I choose a 12/8 gospel sample and played Georgia On My Mind for about an hour. I started out unable to avoid all the cliches I usually come out with when I play that tune, but after a while, new stuff was coming out. Recommended!
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 287
    My practice time is quite structured. I do a bunch of pure exercises, then I work on whatever song I’m learning with my teacher. Plus some extras, like going back over older songs to polish them (I swear I’ll play Lenny through note-for-note one day :) )

    I’m quite well disciplined, is what I’m trying to say.

    It’s good to hear that more work will get me there. Wax on, wax off, and all that. 

    I tried a Trio but I didn’t get on with it, mostly because it a) made a high pitched whine, and b) I play with my amp up and guitar volume down, and the Trio never heard the guitar properly. 
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 287
    smigeon said:
    I second @blobb's advice of listening to a lot of music. But also, a good external groove helps me a lot. When I can't play with other people, I use the "Drumgenius" app on my phone (played loud through my speakers): it's based on real drum samples as opposed to MIDI and has lots of really 'human' grooves. This morning I choose a 12/8 gospel sample and played Georgia On My Mind for about an hour. I started out unable to avoid all the cliches I usually come out with when I play that tune, but after a while, new stuff was coming out. Recommended!
    That sounds like just the ticket. I just realized I also judge what I’m playing as I play it. Not in a self-hating way, but more to see if I’m being “creative enough.” Which is ridiculous, there you go. I figure a nice long groove with a good drum track might be a good use of an hour or two. 
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 803
    @mistercharlie  try a few backing tracks from somewhere like http://www.karaoke-version.co.uk/ alternatively there will be guitarless tracks all over YouTube...
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 774
    also, record everything you do and listen back to it.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 774

    I tried a Trio but I didn’t get on with it, mostly because it a) made a high pitched whine, and b) I play with my amp up and guitar volume down, and the Trio never heard the guitar properly. 
    well...that's a big shame. In my view the #1 creativity development tool.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1652
    My practice time is quite structured. I do a bunch of pure exercises, then I work on whatever song I’m learning with my teacher. Plus some extras, like going back over older songs to polish them (I swear I’ll play Lenny through note-for-note one day :) )
    Your most creative time is immediately you pick up your guitar, and before you start channeling your thoughts and fingers into exercises and whatever you’re learning. So start with the free practice, whether experimenting over backing tracks, or just noodling.

    You can also try playing along with whatever is on the television or radio. This gets you listening to what’s going on, and playing what sounds right. It’s also likely that what’s playing won’t be your choice of music, which is a challenge in itself.
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 287
    Roland said:
    My practice time is quite structured. I do a bunch of pure exercises, then I work on whatever song I’m learning with my teacher. Plus some extras, like going back over older songs to polish them (I swear I’ll play Lenny through note-for-note one day :) )
    Your most creative time is immediately you pick up your guitar, and before you start channeling your thoughts and fingers into exercises and whatever you’re learning. So start with the free practice, whether experimenting over backing tracks, or just noodling.

    You can also try playing along with whatever is on the television or radio. This gets you listening to what’s going on, and playing what sounds right. It’s also likely that what’s playing won’t be your choice of music, which is a challenge in itself.

    I’ve always got my exercises out of the way first, like eating your veggies before your pudding. You’re right though, I do feel drained afterwards. I’ll try that today! And I do sometimes play along to the radio, but usually as an exercise to find the key and then play along before the next song. The key part is easy though — pop music is mostly in C, and anything from the 80s with a sax solo is in Eb.
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 293
    I've been buying a bunch of this guy's backing tracks and playing along. I think he's ace. No affiliation, just stumbled across him.

    https://nowyoushred.bandcamp.com/music
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 287
    soma1975 said:
    I've been buying a bunch of this guy's backing tracks and playing along. I think he's ace. No affiliation, just stumbled across him.

    https://nowyoushred.bandcamp.com/music
    Cheers! I’ll check that right now. 
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 293
    The Allman and Floyd-inspired tracks are great.
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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