Progress and the Big Plateau


I received an e-mail recently in response to my request for blogging subjects.I have included the some of it below because the writer made some great points on which I will share my opinion.

Good morning, Music Guru, (What a great start!)

…For me, the past couple of months have been just a big (ol’) plateau, what with the normal beating-head-against-wall stuff that happens…  What I have learned is that, even if you have to take several steps “backward” the key is to keep playing anything at all, not give up on yourself, and not quit; besides, the benefit of going back is that you learn how stuff that was hard or impossible a month or a year ago has “become” easy, which is a great confidence booster and really shows that there IS progress.  Believe me, I almost walked away on a couple occasions, but I am just too (darned) hard-headed—and, I’ve wanted to play too badly for too long.

I think a lot of people get frustrated and quit before they give themselves a chance at music in general as well as their specific instrument.  And as you may remember from when you were learning a million years ago, guitar is hard—on the fingers as well as on the brain.

Yes, the learning plateau happens to everyone.As a matter of fact, I have seen some musicians never go beyond a certain plateau.Others are learning all of their lives and their music shows that growth, but times of slow progress happen to everyone.

Sometimes I have felt that the effort is not equal to the reward.I have stopped playing for weeks at a time because I simply did not want to play any of the same songs or soloing concepts.

I started taking lessons from Barry so that I could rid myself of a several particular plateaus in my playing and understanding.There were concepts of improvisation that were just driving me crazy.What is interesting to me though is that I was on target with a few ideas and how I have been redirected is not terribly difficult; the new concepts just did not occur to me.

I believe that the writer suggesting we go ‘backward’ in our studies is a great idea.I often suggest it to students who have stopped practicing some songs when we add new songs.We need to visit old obstacles in the new light of greater skill that has been acquired with other concepts and songs.I am certainly going ‘back’ to quite a number of songs that I had real trouble playing as long ago as nine years.NINE YEARS!

A serious study of any subject is filled with twists and turns that lead us to both obstacles and solutions.The only motivation we have is to know we will be better tomorrow if we practice today.



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