The guitar is a fickle mistress. One day you’re shredding like a coked-up Yngwie Malmsteen, and the next you sound like the most annoying noodler at Guitar Center. It takes physical and mental energy to master this craft. When you’re not at the top of your game, guitar playing can feel like a chore.
Worse yet is the procrastination that eats up precious string time; when playing should be the favored method of procrastinating from other menial tasks (like going to work, feeding pets, and sleep). Inspiration is nowhere to be found, yet those six strings sit there just waiting to get dirtied up.
Fight against your tired, bored mind by….
Learning – Seeking out unfamiliar music to play is a quick way to make yourself a better musician. I had zero interest in bossa nova until I learned a simple rhythm exercise that eventually led to me discovering one of my favorite players – Baden Powell. Learning a new style, or even an old favorite that you’ve never tried, might drum up some renewed energy.
Listening – Pandora & Spotify make this easy. So does your parents’ record collection. Who influenced your favorite band? Listen to them and their influences.
Mental practice – The meeting of fingers and frets is only a fraction of real practice. The rest is in the mind. Practicing away from the guitar with visualization can yield great results.
Tune Up – Playing even slightly out of tune will ruin your day. The G string that’s a ½ step off instantly stands out and is quickly corrected. However, when every string is just a bit flat (to varying degrees), it’s easy to overlook. Within a few minutes, your ear is seriously pissed off. Invest a minute to bring her back into balance, and all is right with the world again.
Get Inspired – Take a minute to remember what first drew you to the six string. Watch a performance that fires you up. Your favorite band probably has a concert DVD.
Of course, go to shows.
Here’s Doc Watson. Old and blind but hot damn can he play.
Jam – Find a friend to play with. If you don’t have any, play over your favorite albums, the radio, or a backing track.
Hang it up – At the end of the day, if you ain’t feelin it, you ain’t feelin it. Remember, it’s not a chore. Piano teachers are the only ones who hit your knuckles with a wooden ruler.