How I Breathed New Life Into My Playing Experience

An article for musicians who are looking for the next stage in their musical journey.

Ultimate Guitar

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.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    So.. go meditate to improve your playing? I'd suggest practicing with a another (or if you don't have one, a new) teacher instead of the pseudo-inspirational bullshit.
    well you never can tell where inspiration will strike from so if it works for this guy , who are we to judge ?
    I'm actually thirteen myself. I have been playing for a year now. I loved the experience of first learning. And ever since I started I learn something new everyday. I have started to write poetry and even try to learn to read music. I got to say memerizing note names is a pain. Great collum though it was good.
    I've been playing for 7 years now and started when I was 8, and I've always had a struggle to become a better guitarist and I could never find anything on it. Until I found your column on here. This gave me a lot of advice and I can relate to it pretty well. The advice I got was that try to find a new spark in your playing like if you play metal or rock, try to learn jazz or blues guitar. Thanks for the column.
    Wow everything was so identical to me minus releasing an album ( haven't done that yet). Props to you.
    I've been playing guitar for a year now, started with the acoustic my dad let me use his Squire Bullet, I played well for the first year. Just this year around October I had enough money to buy my own guitar, a Fender Squire Telecaster, sometimes it's the guitar that you pick that determines what you play and how you play, it also can tell you, "you want to play me, and you know it." that kind of thing can push you to want to have more and play more that will give you the drive to get better! Take this to heart, think what your instrument says to you!
    I have done this too and realized that the shred is nice and all is not what I wanted to base my music around. I've reflected a bunch myself and see myself resonating with some of your words here. But in my case I just want to play metal...I KNOW that much but I also don't want to over think it either into a category and such. I take inspiration from Jimi Hendrix bc he didn't really aim for a particular thing in music he just embraced his experience within his musical context and it worked. I hope to do the same one day.
    Hey, what's wrong with writing a lot of songs/ it could help you produce your next album!
    after only 5 years playing you are probably not advanced, I've played for more like 8 years and i improve at a very gradual rate now compared to first few years. you are onto something regarding simplicity though, when you play some chords whilst stoned you remember how beautiful the instrument sounds in anyone's hands