Saturday, 6 September 2014

If You're Going To Do It, Do It Right

September is upon us, and with it a new school year. This is the time of year when a new clutch of fresh-faced students show up at my teaching room door, all eager and full of vim and vigour. And these first few weeks of the academic year are when a seasoned teacher can usually see who's going to make it, who's going to be a real stand-out player, and sadly, who's going to fall by the wayside.

See, playing guitar is not a skill that only a select elite few can attain. Anyone, and I genuinely do mean anyone, can do it, as long as they've got roughly the right number of ears and limbs (I speak as someone with unilateral Grade 3 microtia, a condition which means I only have one fully functioning ear). The late great blues legend Jeff Healey was blind but overcame his handicap by playing the guitar flat on his lap.

Thing is though, it's not easy. Especially in the early stages. There's a lot of frustration involved in trying to force your fingers into all manner of unnatural contortions, and chord shapes that just refuse to find their way into your fingers. So it can be a hard road, and you can often feel like you're not making progress. But be patient. Be disciplined. A Jedi's strength flows from the Force.

Sorry, got carried away there.

So what does this actually mean in practice? Well, my first blog mentioned the importance of focus when practicing - – but commitment to a regular practice routine is also a must. For the early days 15 minutes is a perfectly reasonable amount of time to set aside for one or even two sessions per day (for more information on structured practice sessions, check out my book Zero Point Guitar), but it's essential to make the commitment to practice every day. Twenty-one days in and it'll be a habit that's hard to break, and that's when you'll find yourself making real progress.

Anyone can do it. But not everyone will do it. If you're just starting out this year, make the commitment to be one of the ones who will. It's worth it, I promise.