Although I stopped taking guitar lessons because of my work schedule, I can share two positives. Most important, Nicky (my fabulous guitar instructor-see previous posts) and I are still in touch. He occasionally stops by my bank and raps on my office window before we’re even open for business…with the police department two doors down, he’s lucky SWAT hasn’t approached and asked him to “Kindly step away from the window, sir.” Nicky is good people.
That second positive is my continuing education with playing the guitar. Like some of the greatest guitarists of all time, I’m teaching myself. That means I’ll NEVER be great, good, or adequate. I will, though, have a great time trying. And, despite my own teaching inadequacies with the guitar, I’ve improved from where I was after stopping formal lessons. Here’s how I’m doing it:
- Commit to playing at least five times per week. Whether for 15 minutes or an hour, picking up the guitar and playing anything is vital (for me.)
- Stick with one method book…and only one! I tended to go from lesson book to lesson book as I grew bored and never progressed. I was chasing improvement without the needed focus. Now, I stick with one method/lesson book. I never move to the next lesson until I’ve completed the one I’m on with facility and melody. Still hitting the wrong string? Stay on the lesson…you get the point.
- Recruit my wife to sing along with my strumming on well known simple songs. That motivates me. Scarborough Fair, My Favorite Things, Morning has Broken, Yesterday, Over the Rainbow, Wild Thing, Edelweiss, and Speak Softly Love have been fun to play and hear my wife sing along to. Granted, I’m not necessarily playing at speed, but, I’m working towards becoming faster.
- I bought a tiny device ($27.00) that plugs into my electric guitar that allows me to use my ear-buds…it gives me an amplified experience without disturbing the peace. An added benefit is I can play outside without traffic and wind making it hard to hear myself.
- I also bought a $119.00 acoustic. It gives me variety. If I need a change from the electric, I grab the acoustic. It’s keeps things fresh and that keeps me motivated.
These are simple steps that cost nothing or very little. The whole point is to stay engaged. I look forward to picking up the guitar. I’m playing more and improving. It also makes me feel less guilty when I buy guitar magazines.