What’s The Secret?
I read something this evening and I’d like to share it with you;
“People often ask me, what’s the secret of the musicians on the big stage? What is it they have that I don’t? How can some people improve so quickly while others are stuck in mediocrity for a while? Now, there are obviously a lot of factors going into this. Talent, luck, social background, and many other circumstances go into it, but I can tell you the biggest thing that separates a mediocre guitarist from a great one is none of those things. “Then what is it?” I hear you ask.
“The Pareto principle? Using Parkinson’s law to their advantage? In reality, it’s none of those. The element that is most responsible for the difference between say, you and Slash, is habit. Habit is the core of all guitar-playing skills. In fact, habit is an essential portion that makes learning anything easier. Studies have shown that simply making something a habit, which is to say, a crucial part of your daily routine, can go a long way in helping you learn it.”
Wise words, I’m sure you’ll agree, but these weren’t from anything you’d find in the Self Growth section of a book shop, this is an excerpt from James Haywire’s “Guitar Exercises” guide.
Since pulling my old guitar out of its case a couple of months ago (I’d hardly played in about 20 years), I’ve been really making an effort to get a little bit of practise in each day, and targeting at least some of that practise with specific exercises to encourage finger strength, accuracy and dexterity (hence the book).
During this two months, as a result of the regular and targeted practise, I’ve experienced a significant improvement. When I first started playing again I had to quit after just a few minutes as my fingers hurt, but now, after some regular playing, the ends of my fingers have hardened up and I can play as long as I like and my fingers are re-learning their way around the fret board.
Give Yourself The Edge
Jeff Olsen’s book, “The Slight Edge” is based around this principle – make a habit of doing a bit every day. Easy to do. Easy not to do.
Initially my target was to practise for an hour a day, but with other draws on my time, this often seemed impractical and I’d end up not getting any guitar time in at all.
When Guido, a wise friend, quietly suggested aiming instead for just 10 or 15 minutes, I initially scoffed, but soon realised that in fact this is the way forward.
15 Minutes a Day Can Make a Big Difference
Lowering the bar like this means that now, most days, I do actually play, and though I only aim for 15 minutes, most days I end up playing longer (sometimes much longer) as once I’ve picked it up and start to get into the flow, I don’t want to put it down.
Incidentally, I’m not awesome yet, but I’m working on it.