It’s so important to get as much playing as you can every day, and there are times when even if you can do it for just ten minutes, you’d make a world of difference in your playing. Since you are more likely a beginner or intermediate player who’s reading this, you probably are very enthusiastic about this new friend you have known as the guitar, and probably play a lot! At least I hope so, since this is such a wonderful time of self-discovery for you. It’s great just to sit down and pick up that guitar, acoustic or electric, and to make some new ideas happen. This is how I developed my playing skills, besides the fact that I also played thousands of gigs and sessions, which were all learning experiences as well. It’s just that there’s something about solo playing and practicing that brings out a special, deeper side of you that may not usually come to the surface.
I guess you could say it’s a little like “dreaming” in sound. I like this approach, as opposed to what many folks do, which is to work so hard and rigidly to play something fast or difficult that the love for the guitar almost gets lost in the process! You must remember that the guitar, given the right moment and mood, will literally speak to you regarding what it yearns to play! When this is happening, it’s really your “muse” and your soul that needs to be satisfied. Again, in my case, why is it that most of the time, it’s my “first take” I end up keeping? Or why do I always seem to come up with a totally new song or riff the second I pick up the guitar? I suppose it’s just something I am so used to by now, that it has long been simply my way! I hope this kind of natural playing ability and creativity occurs in you too, and that when you do play by yourself, you try to “tap into” that creative part of you that wants to “dream.”
I can remember once seeing an interview with the great Duke Ellington as he was sitting at the piano, and he said of his playing “you call this playing? No, it’s dreaming….” That one always stuck with me, and I have always very much related to that “dreaming” concept of real playing. After all, where does all this wonderful music we make come from? Stay focused, play a lot, and be sure to “dream” when you hold that guitar!