Saturday, March 17, 2018

Motivation and music.

I love guitar just about as much as I love my cats which is a lot. However, I still struggle with getting motivated to work towards creating music in a productive meaningful way. I think there is a real two edged sword at play -  pun intended. In my opinion the best way to get better at creating music is to play what you love and play a lot. This sounds easy in theory but a real issue I have is noodling - see video below.  Unless I’m rehearsing for band practice I tend to pick up a guitar a lot and just mess around.  There is nothing wrong with that it just can be unproductive and leave your playing in a rut. The solution of course is some disciplined practice schedule.

My biggest problem with that is I don’t like a regimented routine. I find it easy to suggest a practice plan for students but feel trapped if I try to follow one myself.  I think the biggest thing holding me back is my fear that being diciplined will somehow stifle creativity. However if I honestly assess my recent progress and creative output plainly there is no downside to trying an alternative approach.

Now the best things to practice (again with an eye to music you love) are the things that you struggle with.  Things you are already good at need much less practice. The danger here is practicing material that you find difficult can leave you feeling burnt out and not enjoying practice.  To remedy this I think you need to find a happy medium between playing songs and developing repertoire and pursuing technique and musical improvement. Ideally you could find songs or write Etudes that fulfill both. So if you want to try some fast legato work and your pinky needs improvement maybe some Randy Rhoads era Ozzy would fit the bill. Now that sounds easy.  The real challenge here is honestly picking material that is hard enough that it is a challenge but not so hard that you hate to practice it and find yourself failing miserably when learning it. I think the solution to this is never be reluctant to critically assess your weaknesses. Try to begin this process with something a little below where you would like to be.  Make the first couple routines easy to build confidence and begin to increase the difficulty level once your set on a routine you can stick to.

So I’m gonna give that advice a try and update any progress here.