(March 25-31, 2019)
Hey, look at me! This thing was more than a one-off! I’m not going to instantly brag and say that I was perfect. But I did keep a *mostly* regular practice schedule. I took off Monday (sleep deprivation) and Friday + Saturday (effects from sleep deprivation). So including today, that’s four out of seven days. Actually… that sounds kind of bad reading it that way. I can improve. I will improve.
In fact, I will have a second practice today (Sunday). This whole routine is a learning process. I’ll be tweaking things around for optimization. If I have room, especially on weekend days, I think multiple practices matter. What I’ve noticed is that I get worse as time goes on in each “sprint”, be it one minute changes or playing a song in the JustinGuitar app. I get faster on the chord changes themselves, but the sound quality of each chord played takes a nose dive. My fingers get sweaty and my tight shapes get looser because I simply can’t feel the difference by touch any longer. That’s why I figure frequency of quality practices matters more than length of each one. I’m not especially good at either category but I feel improvement in both overall.
Last week I mentioned how I was going to try to invert the one minute changes. That lasted all of a day. The timer actually served a useful purpose – to naturally push me to try to go fast. With the time removed, it felt too open ended. I may try again in the future, but the first experiment wasn’t satisfactory and I went back to the timer. I’ve been stuck in the 30-40 range for quite a while. Justin was explicit that people can spend weeks or months just building themselves up to the 60 in 60 point.
I have to work on my patience. It’s coming. Slowly. It doesn’t show in the raw numbers, but there’s something intangible that is improving. Confidence perhaps? Less thinking and more instinct? Those are the things I can’t point a hard finger to and the difference day to day is minuscule but yet I can feel them like the lightest breeze against my skin. It’s enough of a victory to me to add motivation. I believe the wisdom of experienced players that I’ll be able to look back in time and see that linear progression. I’m not used to working towards things for months or years. That’s a new concept. The only thing getting in my way is me.
I did have one practice after I wrote last week’s post. I was feeling dismayed that my first fret was having issues again with buzzing and lack of full tone. This was the first issue I had after changing the strings from 9s to 11s. I took it to the shop for a quick stop and all the guy had to do was adjust the truss rod and boom, problem solved. The guitar is so frickin’ picky. There’s intonation, action, bridge height, flex, and other things where minute adjustments have a big difference in the playability. I’m learning more and more about these things for sure, but it’s daunting. Anywho, I remembered that fix and gave it a shot. I turned the rod the wrong way and it sounded far worse. I panicked that I had effed up. I gathered myself and did it the other way and tried it. Boom, problem fixed again.
So where am I at? I mentioned the horizontal line of progression on the chord changes earlier. In Rocksmith though, the progress is far more visible. The twin towers of moving between frets and moving between strings is becoming much more fluid. It could be a coincidence that I may have played easier songs. But there are solid gains there. In the videogame everything’s coming together at once. With practice-practice, it’s a grind. That doesn’t really surprise me though. The practice is all about fundamentals. The game is about brute forcing things. Also, rhythm vs. lead. They both have their roles to play.
I’ve read/watched a lot of advice from various gurus lately. An important tip they emphasize is setting goals. Aimless practice and learning is fine, but it lacks in motivation. Knowing why and how and tallying victories do. Also, watching videos doesn’t count. For learning, sure. That’s not practice though. That doesn’t build muscle memory. That doesn’t improve rhythm. Those can only be accomplished by doing.
I had a lot more to share here but my mind’s trailing off and there are a lot of distractions as I write this. I’ll try to note new observations/ponderings through the week as part of the next entry so I don’t lose them. Bye for now!