Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Do Those 14 Year Old Guitar Players Have That We Don’t?

I occasionally exchange emails with other middle age guitar hobbyists and our conversations inevitably come down to “what does the 14 year old down the street have that we don’t; nothing says I can’t belt out the blues too.” While this is technically correct, one thing those 14 year olds may have that we don’t is fun.

Those of us starting the guitar later in life can come to it with a laser focus, something to prove attitude. You pursue lessons, work on your scales, and document progress; all to make up for lost time. We’re big into ‘discipline’. By contrast, any 14 year old who is actually playing the guitar is doing it strictly because it is fun. If it were not, they would drop it like a lame video game. They are going to run circles around someone, regardless of age, who is all about discipline but leaving out the fun.

Fortunately this quandary has a ready solution; simply set aside a portion of your playing schedule for fun. Start with one practice session per week where you play whatever you want however you want. What this does is relax you mind and open it up to new possibilities. You will be amazed at what you discover during one of these sessions; nuggets of knowledge you can apply to the rest of your more focused practice sessions, all of which will lead to progress.

I am all for making rapid progress to make up for lost time and the fundamentals with discipline is a critical ingredient. However, if you want to maximize progress, introduce fun into your guitar practice diet and you’ll be belting out the blues right along with your 14 year old neighbor!