Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Not Suck, Chapter 23: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

I am subscribed to the Flatpick-L mailing list (although I rarely read these days) and I checked in and saw poster Bryan Kimsey post the following:
I'm reading the FGM with Grant Gordy on the cover and I saw a statement that struck me; "if you don't have a goal when you're practicing, then you're not practicing."
He went on to explain how, to him, he plays guitar without goals because it is the one area in his life where he allows himself to not be goal-oriented. Good for him, but not everyone is him. Personally, I have two or three points providing goals for my guitar playing. There's what I want to play and what I actually play.

What I want to play tends to come with technical limitations. I want to learn to play against a tap-tempo delay. I want to play with a guitar synth. I would love to have a computer interface and program effects that relate to how I'm playing the instrument. I have no audio interface or software. I have no piezo bridges. I don't have a tap tempo delay pedal, and I cannot interact with those goals until I take steps forward in my gear acquisition, which is not going to happen any time soon.

What I actually play is what I play every Wednesday and every other Sunday at church. Each song has challenges and parts to learn, but very little of it is challenging. My goal, at best, is to get a sense of the changes, a sense of the melody, and get this lick or that lick under my fingers so I don't have to think about it when the time comes. Sometimes, I have to work through the sounds on a track -- it has a sitar-like bit and a digital delay set for the U2 thing here, and then a distortion here -- but that's not really practice.

So, my suck comes from a lack of direction (see blog title), but the way of not sucking is to set goals and practice to work toward them. Without the goal, you're just playing.

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