When first learning a guitar, students focus so much on moving forward that they have difficulty seeing how far they have progressed over time. Instead of picking up the instrument for the sole purpose of playing for enjoyment, it is always with the intent of practicing to improve.
A long time ago, in a studio far away…
A few weeks back, a student of mine was stuck in a rut. He is the type of person who enjoys writing his own music and always brings in something impressive to work on. On this particular day, he came in frustrated because he was struggling to come up with ideas for his new song. He told me that he barely picked up his guitar since his last lesson.
Something old, something new.
As an instructor, I had two choices: 1) I could introduce something new, which meant he would have to put in quality practice time to get the material down, or 2) we could review previously learned songs that he hadn’t played in a while and just have some fun. As you might have guessed, I chose the second option. You see, in math, one plus one equals two (problem solved); but in music, a “C” chord (that you learned when you first started) isn’t just a “C” chord. How you attack the playing of the chord on guitar, for example, the style of rhythm you choose, and even the solo you play over a chord progression, will change over time.
Jamming and having fun, I knew by the smile on his face that the rut he was in was a thing of the past. Having greater ability and forgetting how far he had come, he’d approached the songs with a different mindset. When he first learned the songs, he had to practice and focus just to get to the end. This time around, he played them with confidence and ease. All of a sudden, he was able to come up with new ideas on the spot, ideas that he could later use with his new composition.
If you feel that you might not be progressing as you’d like, do what my student did. Dust off those old tunes and make them new again. You may be surprised how good of a musician/guitar player you’ve become!