Going outside my comfort zone with the guitar
Hi everyone, how has your start of the new year been?
My first week was a mixed bag. It started with a lot of stress and worry, but I settled down towards the end of the week. Generally, I’ve begun to settle down about a lot of things recently so maybe this year can truly be calm, or, at least calmer than 2021.
During the weekend, I ran into a wonderful opportunity to make the start of this year fabulous. Bluegrass music, Zoom, and guitars are involved…
I’m doing something cool this winter
January is a dull month here (much better than I’m used to in Sweden, however!), and Omicron doesn’t help. After two years of the pandemic, staying sane in the head is becoming increasingly difficult. So having a nice, uplifting project that keeps you busy is a good idea. And what better is there to do than studying guitar?
You may remember the singing class I attended in the autumn and how much I felt it pushed my singing skills forward. The same teacher has now released his course schedule for 2022. I received it in my e-mail last week and saw with interest that the first course would be a guitar class, to study the style of Tony Rice.
I decided to not join, mainly because… well, because it’s Tony Rice. He was a very advanced player and his style isn’t what I think of as particularly straightforward. Also, the required skill level was described as intermediate/advanced, and that’s not how I’d describe my own competency on the guitar, although I’m now probably closer to intermediate than a pure beginner.
Then on Saturday, I saw on my teacher’s Instagram page that he had opened another group, at noon the day after, which would be at 5 pm here. It’s a quite nice time of the day to sit in a guitar class – much better than the singing class that was in the middle of the night for me.
I was very tempted but still hesitated because I was afraid my skills were too low. But then – why does everything have to be easy? Something more challenging, in a way that suits me, would do me good. And I dropped all my preconceptions of “I’m not able to do this” and instead got into the mindset of “It would be fun to try this!”
The day after I contacted the teacher, and after a conversation about whether my level of guitar skills would be enough, I decided to join. A couple of hours later the first class took place.
Moving forward with the guitar
Otherwise, I’m studying bluegrass guitar with Bryan Sutton at ArtistWorks, and have access to an enormous library of video lessons, tabs, and video exchanges between him and other students, and I can do my own video exchanges (I’ve done a few). With so much material, it’s easy to get lost, and I’ve been a bit stuck lately, doing the same tunes and exercises over and over, uncertain about what the next step should be.
So when this Tony Rice course crossed my path and kept crossing my path as if it was telling me to join, I saw it as a good way to focus on something completely different and that it could be the first step to get further with my playing. I may not be able to follow everything, but what’s the worst that can happen? I will learn a lot and get tons of material to work on in the future. It’s also a way to test the waters – how far beyond my comfort zone can I go?
I’ll learn licks and phrases that I can later use in my own solos, and while I focus on learning tunes and solos note by note from a specific recording, I’ll work on my technique, but without even thinking of it.
After the decision to sign up, I couldn’t stop smiling.
Now I’m on the fifth day of practising the intro of “Old train”. It seemed overwhelming at first, but now I play it with good flow in 60-70 BPM, even 80 sometimes. I can do this!
(That speed is way beyond my comfort zone!)
This course is just what I needed. It continues for another month, and during this time I’ll dedicate most of my time to guitar practice. My guitar, my teacher(s), the late Tony Rice and my determination, will make this winter a good one. This is the start of what could be a fantastic year with the guitar – maybe this year will be when I dare to call myself a “pretty good guitar player”?
I’ve babbled long enough about this – but you know, “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”!
To be continued.
Sharing with the lovely bloggers at Natalie’s weekend coffee share.