The Great Buddhist master Lin-chi once said: “If you meet the Buddha, kill him”. An iconoclastic riddle that is engineered to bring a sense of originality in the thinker, Lin-chi goes right for the heart of a fatal habit that many people do: make deities out of celebrities.
In his time, the Buddha was a celebrity to every young aspiring monk and there was a bit of a cult of personality that eponymously followed the man. However, the Buddha was a real person who walked this earth and came up with his own ideas about the nature of the mind, life, & death and can only be relevant to the criteria of his life’s version of truth. Lin-chi’s words were not psychopathic advice meant to inflame the youth, it was advice that was meant to keep the mind from wandering into ignorance though devotion.
I say the same thing about all of the modern heroes of guitar: If you meet them in practice, kill them! That’s right, destroy them in your mind as soon as the image is made and keep repeating this little mental exercise until you are free from the tyranny of comparison or divine adoration.Moreover, these thoughts start to fester and then the nasty part comes out: the comparisons of relevant artists to legends from a golden age. You see these posters all over the place with the same hipster jargon about how its a tragedy that artists A only made $X and sell out artist B makes double that or got more awards than artist A and quite frankly, it all needs to end. This type of behavior does not relate to practice or learning anything and it does not engender a proper space for studying any of these said legends.
Learn with an unfettered mind and move into the future without clinging to the past and your guitar playing will be set free. Sorry no tabs for this lesson, the message is more important
Many people trying to learn any instrument seldom are attempting to learn anything because they are attempting to succeed. Music is not a goal or contest of superiority, it is an activity born out of the deepest parts of the human soul. That sounds great, but if that is true; then that means music is available to every human being. Furthermore, if its in our souls, its in our brains as well and studies have shown that 2 hours a week of practice can actually grow certain regions of the brain, that means that if you practice:
- 17 minutes a day 7 days a week
- 24 minutes 5 days a week
- 20 minutes X 23 days a week
You can get better no matter what. So what is stopping you?
Motivation must come from within and you must practice to fail, play fast enough that you can play under a little duress and fail all over the fretboard. Doing this activity is what your personality needs to let go of disappointment. In my years of experience as a guitar teacher/coach, I’ve heard millions of bad reasons and explanations for why they failed at a certain chord shape or techniques. I’ve heard that their hands were too small, too big, stupid hands, or bad genes. I’ve also heard that “they don’t really care if they do it or not” or “they aren’t trying to be a rock star or go on tour anyways”. I have no problem with a player/student that just wants to have fun and learn at a leaisurely pace, but plots forward towards their goals; even if it’s a goal like: improvise solos over Comfortably Numb on Saturday night at your friends house. Some of the best students I ever had were not always the technically best, they were people who were motivated intrinsically, had goals, and were inwardly prepared to meet the hardships ahead.
Disappointment is the attorney in court prosecuting you right now about your playing and why should you be taking lessons/ practicing/bother even trying.It seems to me that the problem is never stupid hands or bad genes, rather a commitment to success without being interviewed by failure who is the gatekeeper to success. Stop looking past failure and acting like you are not afraid of it! Its time to face it and laugh at ourselves to return our natural wonder and awe of the instrument. Disappointment needs to be eradicated and replaced with slow and careful handling of your musical phrases (whatever they may be ), but it can’t stop until you deal with that little devil that makes you question yourself and rob you of your passion.
Remember, the more you let disappointment rule you, the more blood, passion, and sweat it steals from you and those are the ingredients to success.Make your practice structure and your motivation and discipline spiritual. Motivation comes from within like a pilot light, now go! Turn yours on!