Category Archives: Practicing

Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over It

One thing that I always say to a new student is “whatever new thing I show you when we get together… you’re not suppose to get it the first day.”  I think learning any instrument (or anything at all) requires time.   There are probably only a few people in the world who can pick up an instrument and just play it.  If you’re one of them, then pin a rose on your nose.  😛

If you’re new to an instrument, whether it’s the guitar or something else, don’t beat yourself up because it doesn’t seem like you’re getting it quick enough.  We all learn in our own way and at our own rate.  Don’t get discouraged because it’s not sounding the way you expect it to the first day.. or the second day.. or even after a week.  And don’t give up.  Sometimes, you might know in your mind how it should sound or what you’d like it to sound like but it takes your fingers/hands/body some time to catch up.

When it comes to technique, I don’t believe there’s “right” or wrong” or “good” or “bad”.  Although, there is “clean” and “sloppy”.  (But then again, maybe sloppy is what you’re going for.)  In any case, the point is that everyone’s fingers work differently.  What’s important is if the technique is serving you.  Does it produce the sound you want?  Does it allow you to play at the speed you want?  Does it create the feel you want?  And, probably most important, does it hurt?

On the other hand, analyzing the details and figuring out what exactly is keeping you from being able to play a certain part or lick is a great practice to have.  I think every great musician has to do this one time or another.  And once you find that little piece that’s giving you a hard time, just practice that short passage until you get it and then add it to the rest.  Or maybe there are a few parts that are difficult.  Practice them individually then string them together.

But if you don’t have that kind of time or just don’t want to spend the time, maybe the situation you’re in doesn’t really require you to play something exactly the way you’re thinking.  For guitarists, maybe it doesn’t have to be that particular position or that particular lick.  Sometimes it might be (more) appropriate to ask the question “this person played it this way to make this particular expression, how would I play this to express the same thing or something similar?”

But whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It’s not worth it.

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