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Understanding Level 2

Level 2 is going from a "One Dimensional" perspective through a "Two Dimensional" perspective. What does that mean?

Check it out below.

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Video Coming
May 2023

Level 2 is all about gaining traction, and understanding the bigger picture. You learn your role as a musician here, able to be on the rhythm train - contributing with proper timing and chords, etc.  

Most aspiring players fit into this category. They get lost here. Though they may hear or practice higher level concepts, etc, they struggle knowing how to apply those things appropriately. You're attempting to move beyond seeing music as something that magically "happens" around you, to something that has rules and structure, and if you spend time with it, experience it, it's something that you too can hold and contribute to.

Theory, core-fundamentals, structure, repetition, & building a strong foundation is important here. Thinking and contribution moves beyond basic down beats or 1/4 beats to 1/8 beats (thinking in double time). This change significantly adds complexity to your rhythm.

You should begin playing with others at this point. Seeing not just your own self in the picture, but how to listen and be a part of the rhythm train in a group setting, learning to use your ears not just for your contribution, but how that functions with others. You're learning to see things 2 dimensionally - outside yourself, and experience with the bigger picture. 

In Level 2, you're going to zoom in to very particular core concepts, i.e. learning the main five keys of A, C, D, E, and key of G.  By focusing in and building a foundation on these keys, you'll be start to see the big picture. Really focusing in on the theory, what works (and doesn't), some of the "formulas" of modern music will really help you then take a wider view of application to that bigger picture. You're getting good at what's important, what's common, etc. 

Remember that dot in space we used as an example for Zero and One dimensional? Now that dot is moving and making connections. The dots are the concepts, chords, etc, and the lines connecting the dots represent the time and thought you put towards making those connections. Light bulb moments of theory and concepts, seeing yourself connected to others in a group and seeing concepts connected as pieces to a puzzle. 

 This is ABSOLUTELY the most confusing part, and the most difficult level to break out of.

 

Most people skip many of the fundamentals, and dabble in level 3 too early. It takes TIME and EXPERIENCE to master Level 2. 

 

When in level 2, you should begin learning to do 2 full things at once.  For example, listen to others in a group while you hold down your function, i.e. playing with others. Another example would be learning to play and sing at the same time, etc.  You want to get to where you're now depending on muscle memory to accomplish basic tasks, without total focus/attention being required.

 

Also, you should be learning 2 ways of doing things - sometimes colorful or expressive ways, but still limited in scope. Do you know 2 ways of expressing, for example, a C chord, or how to lift it to a  "sus" chord, or how to play an alternate version of that chord, like a Cadd9. We are still in the "open position" for guitar, and playing "in the pocket." It could mean not just reading notes/chords on a sheet, but learning to play by ear as well. Ear training is important in Level 2 - listening for distances between notes. Are you taking time to think and process what it sounds like to go from a G chord to a D chord, for example? These chords you play often are relating to each other - they have a relationship. 

In practice, Level 2 has three major functions.

1. Learning a wide scope of chords and understanding how they fit within a key.

2. Learning and practicing transitions between these chords in a smooth manner.

3. Learning to get on the "rhythm train," and be a part of the action, not just an observer.

These things take experience and time. 

Level 2 players still need total attention and focus to complete, understand, and move through tasks and concepts. Think about how much focus you needed to complete the most basic tasks when you first started. With time and effort, those basic tasks (switching from a G chord to a C chord, for example) get easier and more efficient.  Level 2 is about getting those common and basic functions to cooperate, to be smooth, to sound good, and get that train rolling.  Lots of brain work here, in the moment and in overall contemplation. 

Muscle memory is essential, and gets established in this level. This will ONLY come with time spent with your instrument.  

 

When playing with others, in the beginning, Level 2 players get easily lost. Sometimes you can feel you aren't contributing appropriately, confidently, or with enough smoothness and complexity. There should also be times that are very exciting with feelings of accomplishment. Music can begin to be fun and rewarding in Level 2.

A confident upper Level 2 player is learning to organize themselves, learning to take a birds eye view of their immediate tasks. 

A Level 1 player, when looking at a chord chart will only see what's immediately in front of them, one chord at a time, and will constantly ask themselves, what's my next chord? What's my next chord? Their vision is narrow. In Level 2, a player should learn to see chords in sections - a bigger picture of the structure of the song. You see full chord progressions and can hold them in your mind. Now you can take your mind off, "what's my next chord," to a more mature contribution to the song - doing 2 things at once - holding the chord progression in your mind, changing chords efficiently and properly, with good timing.  You're learning to organize yourself and widen your scope outside yourself and the immediate small task.

 

Level 2 describes the "teenage years" of development as a metaphor for development of the musician. There's a magic thing that happens at age 12 or 13. As a teacher, I've seen it over and over again, at that age, traction can really take off. I myself, and friends of mine also experienced this shift of interest and ability at this magic age. What seemed impossible at earlier ages becomes possible AND FUN at this age. 

 

No matter what age you are, you may have experienced or are experiencing this feeling on your instrument. If you're spending time with it (just as a teenager experiences life around them), basic things start to make sense here - the rules of life (or music). Things that were once difficult or chores can now be a game, can be fun, can be play.

It's important to have fun in this level, no matter how long you're in it. 

That's all part of it. Try to enjoy the process and contribute best you can. We're moving from focus and attention on yourself and immediate tasks (Level 1), to a bigger picture, eyes moving upward and seeing a big world out there (Level 2). It's still mysterious, but now you've got some miles under you, some experience, some knowledge.  

Experience level: 2-8+ years

Cognitively describes ages 12-20. 

1,000+ hours put in

Want to read more about the philosphy? Check out Level 3.

Ready to dive into the videos?
Check out Level 2 video page.

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