Posted Nov 04, 2009 12:29 PM
Have you every gone into a music store and heard someone playing the most incredible solo you ever heard? You poke your head around the stack of amps and discover this virtuoso is a young 15 year old kid.
If you had any doubts about finally getting serious about the guitar this has only put the final nail in the coffin. You could practice 10 hrs. a day, 7 days a week and still not play as well as this young kid. Well don't give up so quickly!
There is the possibility that this kid has a lot of natural talent but there are some more likely scenarios happening here. This kid probably has a burning desire and passion to become a great guitar player. He probably spends his every waking moment learning as much as he can. In one day he probably puts in as much practice as most people put in all week. This incredible solo you just heard is something he may have been working on throughout the whole year.
As you can see there is much more to the story then there first appeared to be. What looked like a naturally talented young kid is in reality someone that has put in a huge amount of time and effort. While there are a few that are more gifted then the rest of us, most musicians have to work hard to get to the point they are now.
So the lesson here is never assuming anything. You don't know what the real story is. Had you went with your first assumption you may have just hung it up or just continued noodling around like you have in the past.
The better way of dealing with this situation is to use this as a source of inspiration! Now when hearing someone play what you think is beyond your ability tell yourself that with enough practice you too can get to that level!
Your next step is to set yourself up with some easily attainable goals. This is extremely important if you want to become the player you desire to become. It could be simply starting a song you always wanted to learn, making it through a solo at a slow speed or learning the scales you need to know to allow you to maneuver around the neck of the guitar more freely.
If you can reach these smaller goals it will inspire you to reach the next goal. One goal at a time and you will get to your final ultimate goal whatever that goal may be! The key to achieving success however large or small your goals are is to figure out what this ultimate goal is and work backwards. Let me explain!
First ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. If your answer is to become a better guitar player, while being a good goal, this is not specific enough. What does that mean? If you learn a new chord or a new scale then you are then a better guitar player.
If your answer was to become a professional musician then you need to figure out what exactly that means to you specifically. Do you want to be in a professional cover band, be a studio musician or be in a touring rock band? These are the type of questions you need to figure out in order to make a plan that will get you there!
Lets imagine that your goal is to become a professional touring rock musician. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself what this entails. This may require you to tour from city to city in a small van playing small dive clubs to just a few people. You don't start off with a nice tour bus and playing coliseums filled with screaming fans!
If this hasn't discouraged you already you need to go back one more step. Do you just buy a van and go driving around the country looking for places to play? No! You will need to establish yourself locally and spread the word outwards through websites, myspace etc
The next step back is you will need a band. Will this be a punk band, country band or heavy metal band? Do you want to write the songs or just concentrate on creating solo's? What exactly would be your function in the band? Let's say you wanted to be the main songwriter for the band. How are your songwriting skills? Do you have any songs written yet?
If you've never written a song before then you had better start analyzing some of your favorite bands songs to see how they construct their songs. You might even take a songwriting class or find a teacher that teaches songwriting.
Finally do you have the technical ability and theoretical knowledge to create great sounding songs? Knowing how all the musical puzzle pieces fit together is an invaluable tool if you want to write intelligent and creative songs! Get books, online lessons or better yet a local teacher to help you with the areas you are weak at.
You now have worked backwards and know exactly what you need to do to achieve your ultimate goal. Just start with the last step you wrote down and work your way back up to the first step. By doing this you have set up a plan of smaller more achievable goals. One by one these goals will bring you to your ultimate goal!
You have also avoided wasting time on skills that do not directly benefit and line up with your big goal. Learning sweep arpeggios, string skipping and other advanced lead guitar techniques will not help your songwriting as much as analyzing songs and learning chord theory along with other skills I have already mentioned.
How and what you will study will depend completely on your ultimate goal. Even if your ultimate goal is to just play songs by your favorite bands you need to work backwards and figure out what smaller goals you will have to concentrate on to reach this ultimate goal. You will then have a plan that will focus on the skills you need instead of wasting valuable time on skills that will not bring you the results you desire!
I hope this article has given you some inspiration to get back at it and also taught you how to focus on material that lines up directly with your own goals! Yes playing guitar can be a lot of work at times but if you know where the path leads you it can inspire you to keep moving along. Knowing why you are learning this technique or scale gives you an outcome to strive for and can turn what would have been a chore into something challenging and yes even fun!
Don Parkhurst is a professional guitar instructor in the Lebanon Connecticut area. If you have any questions for Don or would like to sign up for his Guitar Club Newsletter log onto Rock-lessons.com!