This is a short post, and it deals with a subject that I plan to dig into quite a bit deeper in the future, but for now, not many words are needed. The subject is getting clear about what we’re doing in a given playing situation and why we’re doing it, and it can really be as simple or difficult as we make it. What the hell am I talking about? This…
I find that we often mistake perceived “weak” areas in our playing and understanding for other, usually unrelated things.
For example, we might blame lack of sufficient technique when we’re really being held back by an incomplete understanding of the guitar’s mechanics or a theoretical concept.
Likewise, we may think we need to learn more theory to accomplish our immediate goal, when we actually just need to sharpen our right and left hand coordination, which helps in the application of that theory.
This problem, although common, usually goes unnoticed, because it can be tough to diagnose. One sure-fire way of discovering and solving it is by getting a clear view or idea of the situation at hand.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things we think we need to know, do, apply, etc. in order to be a competent guitarist. But, in reality, that list of things is usually far shorter than we believe it to be.
If you’re having issues with a particular aspect of your playing, try to “dismantle” the big picture, and instead, look at the smallest, most basic components needed for what you’re wanting to accomplish. These components usually amount to a few, basic things:
2) Theoretical Understanding (Music Theory)
3) Understanding of Guitar-Specific Mechanics
Don’t mistake the need for a better grasp of fretboard mechanics and the guitar’s physical (and musical) layout for the need to swallow more theory. And don’t blame stagnant chord changes when you really should get a better working knowledge of how progressions are built, and what can be used effectively in a given context.
Break things down to the most basic level you’re able, then see if you can categorize what’s going on in that particular situation into one of the three component types I mentioned above. I guarantee that spending some time doing this will help to clarify whatever problems you might be having, and will also help to eliminate the same type of problem in the future.
Try this out in different contexts, and not just with things you’re finding difficult. Go back and revisit something you can already play well, and see if you can pick out different things that apply to one or more of the three categories we’ve listed here.
The idea is to practice using what you’ve already practiced as leverage for things that need more practice, rather than trying to build upon something that you don’t already know and isn’t already working. Think about it, analyze it, and most importantly, DO IT.
It doesn’t have to be that hard, and it’s up to you to make sure it isn’t. This guitar stuff can be stressful enough without adding unnecessary confusion to the mix. ‘Till next time!
Image Source: trekearth.com