Happy new year!
So, I started learning to play guitar in my early teens. In that time, there were three important things that helped me to improve:
- Practice (obviously)
- Getting help from better guitarists
- Going in over my head
It’s the third point that I want to highlight today.
It’s important to try something challenging in order to get better. This doesn’t apply to only guitar, but any skill, really, including singing, recording, mixing, mastering, you name it.
We are often far too content to simply sit within our comfort zones. After the novelty of a new skill has worn off, we’re happy to just stick with things we’re good at. Not take any challenges. Not take any risks.
That’s fine I guess, but in order to really improve at something, I believe that it’s important to push ourselves. To try something a little harder than we’ve ever tried before. Something that maybe we’re not so sure we can pull off. Something we have to work at.
Of course, it’s possible to go too far with this. Many times I’ve decided to take on a challenge that really was too far out for me. In the end I got discouraged and frustrated, and ended up quitting.
That doesn’t do anybody any good.
Instead, we should take on tasks that are challenging, but attainable. Even if they’re not achieved quite in the way we planned, the journey of trying hard to achieve a difficult goal forces us to get better.
The other night, I was watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with my wife, in preparation to go see The Battle of the Five Armies in theatres (which was awesome, by the way).
At the end of the movie, there is a song called “I See Fire” which has a very cool fingerstyle guitar part. I decided that I wanted to try to learn it.
It’s not a terribly challenging guitar part, but it did take some work. I’m not very experienced with this style of guitar playing, so it was a stretch for me.
But once I got it, oh man that felt good!
A month or so ago, I took on a 4 song production project with a friend of mine who is a piano player and singer. It was my first time really recording a musician other than myself. It was challenging and scary, but we managed to finish the project, and again, it felt good!
Later this month, I’m planning to produce a song with a friend which will force me to do several things I’ve never done before, including:
- Work with several different musicians
- Record remotely (i.e. outside of my studio)
- Record an acoustic piano
- Record a violin and cello
It’s a little scary. But I’m really excited about it. It will force me to step outside my comfort zone, learn something new, and most importantly, I know that I’m going to get better because of it.
What challenge are you going to take on this year?
Don’t make it too hard! You don’t want to get frustrated and discouraged.
But don’t make it too easy. Push yourself a little. Try something a little harder than you’ve ever tried before. You will get better.
Leave a comment and let me know how you’re going to challenge yourself this year. I read every comment, and I will do my best to hold you to your challenge!
Have a fantastic new year!