Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Progressing as a Guitarist: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

OK, so that was overly simplistic.

It has been an interesting adventure, picking up the guitar four years ago at forty-six, after not touching one for the previous four years. In the beginning, I learned very rapidly - or rather, I relearned - and in a mere two years, I had relearned almost all of my previous repertoire, and recovered circa 80% of my technique. After that, however, things became more of an effort.

More likely, I have to say that I took many steps forward, and then I'd have a revelation that made me rethink everything, necessitating that I step back a few paces and restart the process. Then, there were plateaus - frustrating in the extreme - but even during those times I knew I was progressing, even if it was just adding new pieces to my set.

Of course, I've also rebuilt a performing career during that time, and all of the gigs I've done have gotten me back into the game. Many years ago, I was an extremely nervous and self-conscious performer, and today - at the dinner club and piano bar gigs, at least - I'm so relaxed I can daydream and people watch during most of my set. Virtually all of that progress was simply due to the fact that I got busy and performed several times every week. Like I say to my students, If you want to get good at playing in your bedroom, then play in your bedroom; but if you want to get good at performing, then you have to perform a lot, and in many, many differing circumstances.

Well, the scale practice routine I recently started has been an unexpected double-sided blessing-curse. As I got into it, I had to rethink my right hand angle of attack, and more importantly, my fingernail shape and length: The i and m nails got a LOT shorter, and much less pointed as well. Of course, this made me rethink the p (Thumb) as well, and it got shorter too, and also more angled toward the inside of my hand.

The immediate result of this was that I started dropping a lot of notes in some of the pieces in my set. My nails were so much shorter and flatter on the tips that I was simply missing the strings. It was so bad I had to drop some pieces from my set for a while!

Well, a few weeks later, I've tightened things back up, and my tone - a product of nail attack and release - is much better, and I've gotten to a whole new level. Painful at first, but the end result has been the biggest technical leap I've made in well over a year.

So, as you progress, expect these setback-breakthroughs. Initially they might seem depressing, but it is the overall goal that you'll be closer to in the end.

FOOTNOTE: The house deal fell through because the seller was overly proud of the work he'd done to the place, and he wouldn't come down enough on his - way too high - asking price. Too bad, as I loved the place, but in addition to being a perfectionist, I'm also a cheapskate (Perhaps that's why I'm terminally single?). I understand markets, and I don't have a perfect 800 credit rating for nothing. LOL!

That's one of the most perfect redheads I've ever seen. No freckles, so I'm betting she never sees the sun (She's Russian, so that might figure). Her hair is actually redder than that, but she dresses it with something that dulls it a few shades - sacrilege. I only know this because the rest of her hair... er... never mind. LOL!


Blogger Tennyson Williams said...

This blog is very fun and informative and the love of my life is a redhead, so that's a nice touch. I'm totally adding a link to my site ;)

2:18 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Sorry about not getting the house. It was a lovely place. You like Alpine anyhow. It's nice though that you want to get closer to your mom as she's older now.

I do a lot of scales on the piano. I actually like it..

9:02 PM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Thanks, Tennyson! I bookmarked you place too.

Ironically, Claudia, I'm starting to enjoy practicing scales again too.

Cheers to both of you,


5:26 AM  

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