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Progressing as a Player

There is so much involved with your progress as a player over the course of your life, but one thing is for sure: it never ends. There is no question that we have peaks and valleys along the way, as I have too, but overall, we never really get worse, only better. I also feel that in your early days of development and learning, it’s so important to do the best with what you’ve got. This means you must not be frustrated, rather, you must try to make as much music with what you know at the time, no matter how limited you may think it is!

I always point to certain “landmark” recordings to make this point to students, such as “Born on the Bayou” by John Fogerty and Creedence. Yes, it is pure simplicity turned into musical genius, but I feel the real genius behind this piece of music and his solos is that Fogerty really didn’t know too much on the guitar at that time anyway, but he was able play something so pure, funky and to the point. It surely was him maximizing what he knew at the time. On the other hand, it’s a bad thing to hear a guitarist who isn’t up to the task trying to play too much, or trying to throw in too many ideas that haven’t been well-formulated yet.

The ideal thing to happen, as you develop, is to create a real “foundation” within your playing and musical knowledge that becomes an almost bottomless well of information and inspiration to draw upon. I know that my own vast experience as a player and as a teacher has helped give me an ever-growing base of knowledge that I can draw upon, and it helps me with my spontaneous improvisation, as well as when I really want to sit down and truly work a piece out. You’ll also find that, as in my case, the technique followed the “need” to play what I was hearing inside of me. So even though many folks may say “he’s a great technical guitarist,” I never ever thought about getting a better and better technique…it simply became part of my vocabulary as I had more and more to say with the guitar. Necessity was TRULY the mother of invention in my case, and in the end, as you continue to develop as a guitar player, it will hopefully be true for you, too!


Posted: 2/12/2010 10:36:17 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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