I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone from when I made that promise to practice 3 times a week starting in January. It flew by!
I have had a cheap guitar for a few years. I would get so I would pick at it (no pun intended) for a couple times, then put it away again. Part of the problem was that I was a music major for undergraduate and graduate degrees and to know what I wanted to sound like in my head versus what was coming out – or not coming out – of my fingers was really frustrating.
So, the first thing I learned was to relax on my expectations.
Quote from one of my lesson books:
Have faith that the full extent of your aspirations can be realized with time and patient effort.
How true this is! The first 2 or 3 months my fingers hurt. I could only play for 15 minutes at a time. I did, however, start to practice 5 or 6 days a week instead of 3. Because I was only playing for 15 minutes, I figured I could do more days. I just set the timer and worked through my books. I sounded really amateur and not very good, and I kept saying to myself “It’s okay. You aren’t a professional any more. Nothing wrong with being back at the beginning.” I needed to keep saying that to myself. My musician’s ego really took a hit at first.
About mid summer or so, I began to notice that I was sounding a lot better. Things were easier. I had built up calluses in my fingers so I could play longer and began to shoot for 30 minutes most days of the week. I rarely missed a day because I was beginning to enjoy the practice immensely. I was learning to love the music for music’s sake again! (I will tell you that college politics took so much of the enjoyment of music from me, but that is another long story to tell.) I was relaxed and okay with things not sounding perfect, which is a big deal for me.
I also learned that just because I didn’t like a piece at first, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t like it later.
Case in point of the above piece. It sounded terrible when I first tried it and felt awkward, so I didn’t work on it. Then I decided to pick at it again later – and I listened to someone play it on YouTube and decided I liked how it sounded. YouTube has been a great source to listen to some of the pieces I have been working on, plus some good advice. Who knew? It’s not all funny cat videos and Chocolate Rain.
The last couple of months I have noticed even more improvement to the point where I am much more musical with the playing, which is what I was really missing in the beginning. Not to mention that I love my new guitar!! I even love how they knotted the strings:
I won’t show a picture of how I knotted the strings on my old guitar, but it sure didn’t look like that
Since I dedicated myself to playing and have improved so much, I decided I deserved a good instrument. Having the right equipment makes all the difference in the world.
Funny how a lot the things I learned from my guitar apply to much of the rest of my life as well.
I am looking forward to doing the videos in the next couple weeks and hope you enjoy them!