I would like to discuss a topic that I personally feel has not been talked about enough in the online music community: taking your playing to the next level.
This is something that I have been personally struggling with for the past few months and, quite honestly, it still continues to challenge me. So, of course, I turned to the Internet. After trying many different searches such as "taking your playing to the next level" and "new challenges," I was left disappointed. All of the articles and videos I found were geared towards less experienced guitarists and intermediates. They contained typical advice such as "work on your bends" and "play to a metronome." Sure this is great advice for the beginner and intermediate guitarists, but what about the more advanced axe wielders out there? Those that are looking to push themselves into unchartered territory.
I was looking for something more.
I have been playing guitar for just over five years now and although I had went threw a brief period of lessons, I am predominantly self-taught. I followed all of the typical advice: I practiced my scales, worked with a metronome, studied my favorite songs, and it worked. I believe that I have become what most would categorize as an advanced guitarist. I even felt so confident as to release my own solo album a few months ago. That was great, but I was left unsure of what there was left to do. What could be next?
I became bored with the usual metronome grind that is involved in developing technique, primarily due to a lack of interest and a sudden skyrocketing of songwriting productivity that seemed to take up all my available time for music.
Around this same time I began to become heavily interested in mediation and the Indian art of chakra healing. My newly zened out approach combined with the chakra principle of third eye intuition led me to realize that I did not actually want what I was working towards. I never had any interest in being able to down pick or shred at warp speed; it was merely just an illusion. Revitalized, I am now looking for some new challenge: I want to struggle like I never have before.
Interestingly enough, my increasing fondness Eastern traditional music has provided this spark. It has refreshed the way I look at music and provided me with my next great challenge: scoring music. As of now, I am still learning to even read sheet music, being the guilty tab reader that I am. It has been a humbling experience. I am struggling, but I love every minute of it. This new stage of my journey has made me feel like I am thirteen again and just picking up guitar for the first time.
If you stuck with me through that wall of text, I'll leave you with this to take away:
If you are ever in a rut, lacking motivation, or unsure of where to go, go back to the days of innocence when you were just picking up the guitar. Think about what it is you truly desire to get out of music and be aware of when life presents to you another path to choose while on your journey.
About The Author:Ryan Loftus is a solo artist and multi instrumentalist from Philadelphia, PA. Specializing in metal, rock, and exotic music. His debut solo album, "Reclaiming Humanity," is available on YouTube, CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. SoundCloud Page, YouTube Channel, Facebook Page.