Jul 25, 2008

Staying Motivated

There is a major problem in the mindset of most people, when it comes to tackling a new challenge. As you may know, depending on how far you plan to go with maximizing your guitar skills, you will no doubt be stared down by the face of overwhelm-meant.

The point is that whether you want to play like Keith Richards, or shred like Malmsteen, you will be challenged evenly, like the rest of us. This is a part of the learning process, and the more advanced the style of music that you choose to pursue, the more ground you'll have to cover.

This is very daunting for newer guitarists, so allow me to share with you some positive news.

The first thing that may be difficult for you to understand, is that learning and developing your skills as a guitarist improve over time. Its kind of like compound interest. It grows with speed and mass. What this means, is that as you get older, you will still continue to encounter difficult passages, but the difference is that you will be able to nail them very quickly. The reason for this is because you know how to teach yourself better now. You know how to take your time and you can detect when are really getting it. Your hands become more sensitive and you notice every little difference in the way you pick a string, and the way your fingers push down on the frets. If you are playing guitar and have just started, feel comforted in knowing that this process has already begun for you, and will grow very quickly.

Take your time. I can not put enough emphasis on this. If you are aspiring to become a fast guitarist, just promise yourself to be a little patient. Let me give you a scenario. You are just starting to learn some fast riffs. You can only play them very slowly. Let's assume that you practice these riffs for an hour everyday, while taking your time. Now lets play around with the opposite scenario. Lets say that you are playing these same riffs for an hour a day, but you've decided to jump right in and try and shred them right off the bat. Let us look at the progress after 3 weeks of practicing, involving both approaches.

1. After 3 weeks of picking cleanly and working your speed and dexterity up = insanely fast picking skills and amazing fluidity. Not to mention a head that is now full of understanding and mass amounts of creativity.

2. After 3 weeks of trying to be Malmsteen reincarnate = no one can even tell what you are playing. No distinguishable notes can be heard. You are trying too hard and its depressing. The worst part is that it is going to now take you at least 9 weeks to catch up to your wiser self.

A trick to keeping focused with this kind of development, is to enjoy the music that you are playing, even if it is slow. Speed can be beautiful, but music as a whole has been described as the language of God. Keep this in mind.

One more thing before I depart. Even the best guitarists wake up in the morning playing terribly. Its just something that happens. I had a really good friend who would pick up a guitar, hit a few awful notes and then put the guitar back down, exclaiming "I'm just not feeling it today". The sad thing was that had he kept with it for about a half hour, he would have caught right back up to where he had been the day before. Once you reach that half hour mark, you can then build upon your current skill level. Increasing it by a notch. Tomorrow repeat this process. Just always take your time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wouldn't steer you wrong. These really are the ultimate secrets to becoming the guitarist that you see yourself as.

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