Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - You've Got Problems?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

You've Got Problems?

  • "I can't hold the pick"
  • "The pick keeps moving around!"
  • "My third finger won't work!"
  • "My pinky won't work!"
  • "My fingers won't work!"
  • "My fingertips are sore"
  • "I can't get to the C chord fast enough"
  • "I can't always pick the D string when I need to!"

Etc. etc. etc...

 Just about every student I've ever had will come to me seemingly exasperated with a complaint about some physical aspect that is considered either "impossible" or specific to them and nobody else in history.

 I can try to convey the idea that yes, there are elements to learning to play guitar that is challenging - and when something happens that seems daunting, to the point of being "impossible" that in reality - I've probably heard that before.

 Persevering is part of getting better.  If it didn't take that everyone would do it and the ability to play guitar would be commonplace.  And boring.

 A big, big takeaway from learning guitar is the literal skill set of  learning how simple repetition, applied in a very concise manner, always yields rewards.  Rewards that from the outset may seem literally impossible.

 The basic mechanistic things - holding the pick, getting from one chord to another, finding the strings with the pick consistently, etc. - are all individual skills.  Everyone gains ability of these individual skills at differing rates.  It is never, EVER linear.

 By that I mean chances are one student takes for granted what another student is telling me is impossible, and vice-versa. If both can take me at my word when I say "it will balance out over time" then it's just a matter of persevering.

 The caveat is that for the kid that has many, many hours a day to practice will perceive those non-linear discrepancies in skill diluted by the sheer quantity of practice time.  In other words, if you only practice 15 minutes a day and have trouble finding the high E string in an arpeggio, you're going to perceive that as an issue across many weeks.

 Maybe 2 weeks go by after starting to address said issue, and you think to yourself "I've been doing this for 2 whole weeks!!!  I still can't do it!!!".  The guy that plays 4 hours a day literally addresses that problem in the same day he decides to fix it.

 Let that soak in: in the first example the guy at 2 weeks comes to the lesson saying "I can't do this!!! I've been working on this for 2 weeks now!".  This person has put in less than 4 hours of time applied to the problem.  The guy that does 4 hours in one day - he's already got it covered.

 That doesn't mean you can't get better at 15 minutes a day, but skills learned on guitar take  multiple hours.  You can split that up across days, but once you get down to quarter hour playing sessions you're increasing not just the literal length of time it's going to take, but also the mental effort!   

  In reality you'll maintain at 15 minutes a day, it will be uphill to get more skill. Right at 30 minutes you'll get steady increases.  Practically, you need a little more than an hour a day, say an hour and a half, to see "exciting" results.

 Presuming you're applying yourself properly and not messing around practicing.

 Regardless, the point of this post is that everyone I teach at some point will find an aspect of their ability they feel is not "keeping up" with the rest of their ability, and will perceive that as being some sort of guitar playing show-stopper.  It never is.  

1 comment:

  1. Presuming you're applying yourself properly and not messing around practicing. Ok putting layers upon layers from precious songs does a student divy up the 90+ minute time block for new material/skills vs. Keeping the past lessons sharp?