The Act of Caring (Regarding One's Playing)

Improving one's playing by being intensely aware of one's playing.

Ultimate Guitar

Recently, I've come to great realization about how important it is to "care" about ones own playing and writing. And, what I mean by that is, to really put in the effort of "listening" to what you play and even analyzing it to a certain degree. I speak to a lot of people when I say that we are passionate about our music. And to that effect we should be equally caring about what/how we play and what put out to the world. I sincerely believe that one of the differences between the world's greatest players and the good ones is that they care more intensely.

Let me explain to the best of my knowledge what I mean by all of this. We start with inspiration, we pickup our respective instrument/s, we practice, and we get good. Most of us practice to the best of our abilities, and according to how far reaching our goals are. We practice with the best of intent, and with the best of what we know. Now, what most us don't do is to listen intently to what we are playing and what it's telling us. A good analogy would be how we don't take care of our bodies, even when we instinctually know something is amiss.

Now onwards to some practical ideas I can give you. Record yourself. Record the pieces you've been learning, record your band practices, record your noodling! I use a Zoom H1 recorder, but you can use your phone too. I'd suggest you invest in some kind of hi-definition recording device so you can hear all the slight nuances in your playing. You don't want your ghost notes being drowned out by the hi-hat, your articulation drowned out by the recorders distortion etcetera. You can even use video recording if you prefer, which gives you an added dimension. But as musicians we are dealing with "sound", so keep it simple. 

After recording whatever it is you have recorded. Listen with intent to how you are playing, and what direction you were aiming for whilst playing. Listen to how even your notes are, your dynamics, note choices, phrasing etcetera. Mainly listen in order to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve, and that have you actually achieved it? And preserve it. You may not even like what you are playing right now, but in 6 months or a year, you'll look back at it and learn from it.

Now, to a more philosophical, though practical, approach. Really "listen" to what you are playing when you are playing. When you are practicing your licks or scales or whatever, listen to "how" you are playing, how you are articulating the notes, how the phrases are, the dynamic content etcetera. It's almost Zen like to an extent. Approach it in various tempos and feels and intentions. It really boils down to "what" you want to hear, and "how" you're going about approaching it.

I know most of what I've written lacks concreteness that you might find say in a method book which says to do X and do Y. But I hope that it might inspire some ideas of your own, and maybe make aware of some of these points. I know some of you do this instinctually, and some, who might need a bit of push in this direction, which I certainly did. Try it out for yourselves. Give these thoughts a chance.

0 comments sorted by best / new / date