Where are you headed?
by Sarah Worley (from Jan ’17)
We’re hitting the new year, so now is the perfect time for my first blog post, and what could be more apt than reflecting on your guitar resolutions?
But first, it seems only fitting to tell you a wee bit about myself but don’t worry, I won’t beat around the bush! Personal development is my thing, but guitar is my passion. I’m not a pro; I’m still learning. I came on board as co-author of the Guitarist’s Solo and Songwriting Companion when I saw that Paul, my fellow (and the main!) writer, had the makings of the book I needed. As we got writing and developing it together, we really did find ourselves writing what we both wanted to learn and internalise. I knew the theory, but I struggled to apply it to guitar. Our book was developed as a result, and to this day, remains my first point of reference as I develop my playing and soloing. As a not-there-yet, developing musician, I’ve come to realise there is no clear-cut, all bells whistling (did I mix my metaphors?!) moment when you graduate from “not really a guitarist” to “guitarist”. That moment will be different for everyone. Consequently, I’m interested in the journey of developing as a guitarist, whether as a beginner or a pro. And to blog about it, this may get personal. Possibly even uncomfortably so. Expect posts covering everything from motivation to overcoming blocks; the art of practicing to handling performance anxiety (no, not that!).
So today, we’ve hit the time of year when everyone is thinking about resolutions. It’s that time when we commit to turn dreams into plans; thoughts into action. Have you considered relating any resolutions to your development as a musician?
The thing with guitar, and any instrument for that matter, is that they call it playing an instrument for a reason. Play is about exploring. It’s about fun. It’s driving without programming the sat nav. And I really don’t want to contradict that – I want to make time for play. But the thing is, I really do want to get somewhere. And that’s where the planning has to come into it. I really believe in the power of visualisation – if you can see where you want to go in your mind’s eye, you have so much more chance of getting there than if you just don’t know. It’s like programming the sat nav. You can drive with Google maps running, and it’ll tell you where you are, but it won’t direct you anywhere until you program in a destination.
For me, I want to be in the position where I can play what I hear in my head with ease, so that I can write songs, express myself and improvise freely. And why do I want this – what is it that drives me to play? For me, it’s about wanting to communicate emotions through music. And the beauty is that, by getting clear on what I want and why, I can check in with my practice and ask myself if what I’m working on is really in line with my goals. If it’s not and I go off course, I can recalibrate, Google-map stylee.
So, what do you want? Can you answer these questions with clarity?
– Whose playing most represents where you would like to get to?
– How far are you aiming to develop your speed and technical ability?
– What are you aiming for in terms of performing? Just you, your mates, the local pub, Wembley?
– Do you want to be creative and write or improvise or would you rather stick to covers?
And what about your why?
– Why is it that you wanted to play guitar in the first place?
– What drives you to keep playing now?
By taking some time to reflect on what matters to you now, you’ll reap the rewards in keeping on track and practicing with purpose in the new year. Now is your chance – make your resolutions count!