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For me, it's about moving forward, learning new things.
For many years now, since the mid 80s, it's been my goal to be able to do solo improvisations on guitar in a finger/classically influenced style that are musically rewarding to me and enjoyable for others to listen to. I'm much closer than I've been in the past, so I take heart in that... and I enjoy the effort. Whether I ever really get there... thatremains to be seen.
No and I never will be. I have my moments where I surprise myself by how far I have improved from say 5-10 years ago but I am so far from where I would like to be. Its a good thing I guess, keeps me on my toes. And I`ve learned not to get too hard on myself about it because the truth is, I am so much better than I was 2-3 years ago.Its hard to compare yourself in this small time frames but if you do, I think you`ll notice, you have learned things.
For me, its a multi-dimensional process of singer, songwriter/composer, piano/organ, guitar, recording/engineer/producing, choir director, and guitar which is probably my weakest link... I realize at the tender age of 39 that the guitar is simply not a natural extension of me, unlike the piano or singing. I`ve been playing piano only 3 more years than the guitar and the chops are miles apart and I have spent so much more time on the guitar in the last 15 years, I figured I would have caught up but never did. Oh well...
It truly is a journey and like I tell my oldest son who is learning to play the guitar, "No matter how good you are, there will always be room for improvement."
I never will be either. I feel like I'm stuck being a "bedroom" player". I infrequently perform, but when I do, I feel like a nervous wreck and playing with shaky hands doesn't help. .png" alt=":smileysad:" title="Smiley Sad" /> At least I get to enjoy occasionally playing with friends, making recordings for my web page, and YouTube videos.
Here's where I am: I reached a certain standard of musicianship and then decided that was that. I'm competent enough to do what I need to do with regard to songwriting and playing. I'm not really confident enough about my abilities to feel comfortable in a band, though
I'm a lazy bugger - I haven't practised for about 25 years
But, you know, how many chords does one need to know to write the kind of cheesy pop-****************e that I churn out?
It's actually very helpful, I think, to have some aspects of your musicianship reach some sort of plateau and stay there for a while. So you can concentrate and develop other aspects. Like a basic set of tools, ok, you've got those so now what can you do with 'em?
For example, the big-time classical piano interpreters get to a point to where they can handle, technically, the repetoire they know they are going to work. They don't keep on trying to get faster and faster, for example. Maybe they could, but why? They may know that they can't really play a few of the infamously, diabolically difficult pieces - so they just don't include those in their set list.
When people tell me that I'm a great player or something, I tell them this truth - I'm careful to play what I can play and not play what I can't play. It sounds ridiculously obvious, but all us musicians know what it really means...we all hide our weaknesses and play up to our strengths and that's the only way to exploit our gifts in the long run.
Especially self-taught people like myself. If you graphed my skill-set, it would look like a broken comb - spike, gap, half-spike, big gap, super-high spike, gap, gap, tiny spike, half-spike, etc. So I really feel like a phony sometimes - I think most of us do.
They way the young Beatles proceeded - McCartney in particular - is pretty much what I've come to. They'd learn a new chord and bang write a new song (or three.) They'd get obsessed with some new riff from a record and they'd worry it and practice it and drive everyone crazy until they got it down. They were as technical as they needed to be to give them the ability to realize some of what they heard in their heads. They were in no way shy to ask for help, and they never made any claims to virtuosity.