If you haven't heard of this, here is an extract from the introduction, and in insight into what this project is about:
If you want to do something, you may as well do it properly. To do something properly, you need the right information and when you have the right information, you need the right guidance as to how this information may be applied. With the right information you're in the best place to start, and it is only from this truth that real, high quality progress can be made. Where all of this may seem simple and straightforward, like anything which seems too good to be true, it often is. When it comes to any creative endevour, there is an additional challenge which complicates all of this greatly. What if there are many truths? What if there is a whole world of truth to explore? Some of it seemingly contradictory! Where one persons perception of 'good music' and another persons perception can be radically different, how do we manage, quantify, and work with this truth? Exploring this situation and consistently questioning it is a large part of what this project is about. This is the reason that a permanently evolving collection of ideas and updates for a community of progressive thinking guitar players exists within this blog. This is why this project is not, and never will be 'finished'. It lives and breathes as music itself lives and breathes.
If you want to develop your skills as a guitarist and musician, the truth is that there are no "guitar secrets", no "quick fix solutions", and no "shortcuts to great playing" despite some of the claims made by some adverts that you may have seen online for some guitar tuition courses. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time, dedication, discipline, and practice, but the rewards for your efforts will outweigh the commitment that you will need to make if you have the right information and the right guidance. Welcome to the real thing, welcome to the Contemporary Guitar Performance Workshop.
Back in January 2010, my first post of last year was entitled “New Year, New Ideas” and it introduced a module on phrasing. The following posts (interspersed with some more general posts on guitar playing) remained focused on this one topic for the next few months. This year, I’m going to looking at broader perspective, and look at long-term goal setting and the value that it has. While it’s sometimes important to focus on one topic and immerse your playing into a program for developing that one aspect of your playing to a high standard, it’s also important not to lose focus on longer term goals and to this end, I’m going to be making some posts on more general aspects of guitar playing in terms of long term goals and target setting (along with some other thoughts and ideas) for the foreseeable months ahead.
A lot of the time, guitarists seem to have curious targets. They define quality playing and aspirations as “I want to be as good as player X”, “I want to be able to play solo X”, “I want to be able to play jazz” etc… While these aspirations are in no way bad things, and could serve guitarists well as short-term goals, they could often be taken much further. Why can’t you have the desire to be better than any player you’ve heard? Sound impossible? It isn’t impossible for a number of reasons. Here are only some of them:
Natural Ability on Guitar? (April 2009):
"I frequently hear people speak of some guitarists as being ‘naturals’. Where guitar playing is a skill, the guitar itself (in it's current form) is an instrument which has had its basic shape and form invented, and then it has gone through a process of evolution. A guitar is not a natural instrument like the voice. As such, how can you attribute anything regarding the skills people need to play a guitar to be in any way natural?
The nature of a skill is that it is learned. Where there are people who have an aptitude for learning certain things at different speeds from others, that isn’t the acquisition of the skill itself, that’s the speed at which the skill is acquired. The skills required to play the guitar are obtainable by anyone (of ‘normal’ physical and mental capability) because of the nature of what a skill is.
If anyone has concerns about whether or not it’s possible to obtain the skill of guitar playing, they are unfounded. If anyone has concerns about how fast these skills may be developed, this is simply a question of how much effort you need to make. After that it’s just a matter of discipline, determination and perseverance. How much of each of these three things that you will need is relative to how good you want to be.”
Taking all this into consideration, it shouldn’t be too difficult to conclude that pretty much anything that can be done, can be done by you. This is something I find myself saying to my students all the time. Furthermore, a direction that the guitar can be taken in the future can come from you. Raising standards is important to guitar playing because without higher standards and more challenging targets, the guitar doesn’t get to move forwards. If guitar playing fails to move forwards, it’s at risk of becoming stagnant and tiresome. At it’s very worst, if any serious and committed guitarist doesn’t aspiring to take the guitar further than they found it, their aspirations “to be as good as” rather than “better” could actually be considered a contribution to the instruments stagnation! This brings me to what I’m going to be focusing on this year: Taking the guitar past the point at which we found it, raising standards and as we move into the future. As we are growing, changing, evolving, and improving our lives, so we need to ensure that we don’t leave the guitar behind, and take care to bring the guitar with us.
Any and all constructive comments and criticism most welcome.
All the best,
Last edited by Nik Harrison; 9th January 2011 at 10:55 AM.
Since the time it takes for threads on here to drop to page 5 seems to be measurable in seconds these days, I thought I would engage in some posting purely for bumping stuff up the page (as people seem to do quite a bit).
I'm finding that little else is working these days to get people's attention so here's my latest thoughts on the subject:
Since the contemporary guitar performance workshop facebook group was 'archived' recently, it currently has about 17 members, (about 200 less than it had), so if anyone was once a member of this group from the pre-archive era, please feel free to re-join. For anyone else who may not have ever been a member, please feel free to also join!
In the lessons I teach, I frequently observe the same kinds of things that students seem to do a lot when theyíre trying out new licks or ideas. A lot of the time they will attempt the idea, get stuck at a particular part of it, and then try again only to repeat exactly the same mistake. Perseverance once more and determination will drive them to make another attempt, but yet again, the passage grinds to a halt at the same place. I still have similar experiences myself when I try out certain new things, although I take a very different approach to these situations now than I once did. At the point where a student has made the same mistake (or just ground to a halt) 3 or 4 times, I ask them to stop.
It is at this point that an awareness of one of the key components of practice needs to be recognized and responded to. Practice is essentially made of two key components. These are assimilation and reinforcement. Assimilation is the process of learning new ideas. Reinforcement is the process of maintaining and strengthening those ideas.
Taking this into consideration, at the point where a new lick has ground to a halt more than 3 or 4 times, the assimilation process has actually become a reinforcement process, and worse still, itís actually become a practice of getting something wrong! The assimilation process had not sufficiently been completed before subsequent reinforcement should even be attempted.
At the point where an attempt is made to perform a lick and itís ground to a halt (or a mistake has been made in the same place) 3 or 4 times in a row, stop. Stop playing and reassess. Reassess by thinking about why the idea is grinding to a halt or why the mistake is being made? Is it too fast? Is it too difficult for the time being and needs to be re-categorized as a longer-term goal? Is it too slow and actually boring to practice? Any of these (and plenty more) reasons could be influencing what is happening, but even if you stop and donít pick up the guitar again until the next day, to persevere practicing getting something wrong could actually be worse in the long term.