Ever noticed how lots of guitar players sit around and start playing a song…and stop…and doodle on the guitar and then play another half or sixteenth of a song, then a bit of an intro and so on. Does this sound familiar?
One of the things lacking in many players is the ability to complete, to follow through and turn what they can do on a guitar into a musical package that defines who they are as a unique musician. What many guitarists have is a bundle of bits and pieces, this is extremely common. Fortunately someone was kind enough to point this out to me about thirty years ago, and it helped me prevent catching a bad habit very early in my musical career.
So how do we deal with this issue of bringing all our musical bits and pieces together?
I have a strategy that has worked for many students, and the reason it worked for them is because they followed through and acted on some very simple advice. We often bypass the simple things but it’s astounding how the small things can make a massive impact on what we do. So here it is:
Get a piece of paper, a ruler, an eraser, a pen and a pencil
Draw three columns on the piece of paper in PEN
Create a heading at the top of the first column:
SONGS THAT I CAN PLAY
Create a heading at the top of the second column
SONGS THAT I AM LEARNING
Create a heading at the top of the third column
SONGS THAT I’D LIKE TO PLAY
Write a list of the songs you can play in the 1st colum in PEN
Write a list of the songs you’re learning in the 2nd column in PENCIL
- Write a list of the songs you’d like to play in the 3rd column also in PENCIL
When you select songs for the third column make sure that a number of them are achievable.
As you learn a song completely, or get it to the point where it’s reasonably good, move the song from the second column to the first.
- The next step is to sit down and play a concert to yourself, from start to finish. The concert will consist only of the songs from the first column. No doodling around.
Even if you can only play one or two songs, it’s OK you’ll build on it. If you follow the simple steps I have recommended, you’ll find that you’ll be developing a repertoire of songs for performance. Your style will gradually become more defined and more refined.
Click the link on song_list.doc to DOWNLOAD a simple list template
In my next blog I’ll be discussing how to practice so it’s not a painful non-musical experience.