Today I began lessons with an experienced player, but he’s someone who lacks confidence, and it got me thinking. Really, it’s the “confidence” factor that seems to be something can largely dominate our ability to be a true player or not, and I guess since I exuded so much confidence in my early days, it has always seemed like a natural thing for me to have. Of course, confidence builds as you get better and better, and sometimes your personal confidence may exceed that of your musical confidence, and we all know about “those” people, whose sheer gall and “chutzpah” outweigh their real musical abilities. They may go far in the biz, but in the end, their lack of real ability will sell themselves short!
You’re much better off if you can have the “real” confidence in your playing, and even if you may be shy or find it hard to “put yourself out there”, it’s still far better to be really well-off, musically speaking! One thing I noticed in my student today was how much he actually was missing on the fretboard. This immediately told me that his lack of confidence was, as I suspected, directly connected to his lack of musical ability. There are far too many players who like to call themselves “advanced”, when really all it is that they’ve play a long time, not that they’ve musically grown a long time! This is the key…I mean, I’ve known players who have only played 4 years who know more and are more confident that him, and he’s played for 30 years!
It’s so important to start young…..because even though he’s played for thirty years, that means he was 30 when he started! Well, you should never not start because of age, but by starting at age 30, he lost the most important “formative” years of his learning abilities, and instead he acquired many bad and old habits that are now extra hard for him to break! I was amazed for example, which he played only with his thumb. Well, unless you’re Wes Montgomery, that’s not going to get you very far, and it’s going to limit your playing. So, of course, I right away tried to get him to use that thumb independently of the other fingers, and tried to get him to learn to play only the bass notes with the thumb, while playing lead with the other 3 fingers!
Again, all this will eventually help build his confidence, as he’ll have many more techniques on which he can “hang his hat”, and upon which he can build more and more knowledge, and therefore, confidence. Remember, in the end, we all really teach ourselves,
and without confidence and creativity, that learning process will not go very far! Good luck, and be sure of yourselves as you move forward!