I know it may sound a bit harsh, but you can really serve yourself well by being your own worst critic! By this I mean that you should be highly critical of your own playing, and in essence, never be truly satisfied with what it is you’re doing. This applies in my opinion, especially to the creative side of things. After all, this is a creative process we are going through as guitarists, and we must always be learning and growing. If we stop that, we might as well give up! The worst thing is for anyone to get themselves into a little “box” where they feel so secure with the small amount they actually do know, that they are literally “afraid” to step out over the boundaries!
Breaking the very rules we think are there to make music is what music is all about. Science is always being re-defined, and music is certainly a very “scientific” endeavor. It involves sound, time and space, and many other “intangibles” such as emotion and your own personal level of expression. These are things that cannot be pre-prescribed, nor understood by even a teacher….it’s really in the end, totally up to you!
I know that when I am onstage, for example, if I start to fall into a musical “rut”, or play something that to me, is way too predictable, I feel as if I’ve let myself down! Sure, there are songs with riffs we have to include and “get to”, but it’s learning to play “outside” of those comfortable realms that we should really always be striving for! The audience is actually tuning in to your thought process as you play, and they are hearing your pure expression. If you break that train of thought, or lose your focus, so will the audience, and odds are, they’ll start to talk or ignore you. This is of course, a rather extreme occurrence I am referring to, but it does happen, and even though most people listening to you won’t nearly have your musical knowledge, you will still be “losing” them on a very gut level, where they’re not sure what’s wrong, but they’ll at least know they don’t like it!
That being said, it’s critical for you as a growing musician to always remember that it’s you who must first be pleased with your own playing, then all else will grow and flourish from there! I have always been my own worst critic, but at the same time, I realize how important it is to take note of the strides I have made, when I make them. The recognition of the good progress is extremely important for you to hone, and it’s those little steps ad giant leaps that will keep you coming back, and hungering for more!
So stay hungry, stay creative, and most of all, stay critical of your playing; in the long run, it’ll always help you to improve!