(April 1-7, 2019)
I will own up to it. I didn’t do great this week as far as practice schedule goes. I think I might have practiced three days total. Not good. But as I said, I’m owning it. I didn’t have any good excuses. Though I was really tired all week, it was more about having too many distractions. I was fully cognizant each night that a practice was expected. I procrastinated hour by hour until I was too tired to focus and decided to head to bed instead. I’d either play videogames or go down a rabbit hole of guitar videos (NOT a substitute) or do some reading. So the next big step will be to put away the excuses and knock it out as soon as I have a moment, before something else sucks all of my attention for hours. The practice is all about building muscle memory so really, “intense focus” isn’t a requirement. Some, sure. No side distractions allowed for sure.
Now for the good news. I think I hit a couple of breakthroughs in the last day or two. I had a hunch that some of my problems with maintaining perfect sounding chords was due to things outside of the instrument – namely posture. Last night I decided to stand up to practice.
When I eventually get good enough to perform (for myself or others), I will be standing and moving around a little bit. Also, my sitting posture is really really rotten. I hunch over the guitar to see my fingers on the frets and that does a big number on the hand angle, leading to buzzy chords. My sitting posture sans-instrument is awful anyway. It is something I’m working on but I don’t need to be trying to turn two wrongs into a right here.
Standing up and playing was fantastic. I had the biggest session-to-session improvement since I started this journey, even going back to December/January. I could make every chord sound perfect with little effort. I had to contort my wrist, hand, and fingers in new ways (i.e. correct ways) that felt like a workout when I was done, but the confidence and motivation boost was huge. Another half of this whole step forward was actual by-gawd finger memory clicking on. I can actually tweak my finger orientations right after a buzzy chord and correct it without making each one a project. With the D, it’s stretching the ring finger out more to get closer to the 3rd fret. With the A, it’s tightening the formation, index finger especially. With the E, it’s correcting the angle and pushing more towards the 1st fret with the index finger. I’d say 9 times out of 10 I can correct right there on the fly. It’s really awesome. I can’t say enough how proud I am of that newfound ability.
I improved on the A to E chord changes dramatically. I went from about 30 to 45 a minute. There was slight improvement on the others involving D. That one continues to be my bane. I’m going to have to put extra emphasis on that one. With A and E, all three fingers have gotten to the point that they can act in unison and form the chord with a smooth simultaneous drop on the fret board. D is still stuck on finger 1 then finger 2 then finger 3, with some finger1 + finger2 then finger 3. I can’t get that baseline D formation down yet. It seems different every time I do it. A and E are rock solid in comparison. That’s okay. Something to focus on.
I made a list of near term goals in my guitar notebook. I’m jotting down thoughts in there and I’ll transplant and elaborate on them in this journal. On the agenda:
- D chord formation and emphasis (mentioned above)
- Do random chord changes and try to increase speed
- Measure one minute changes
- Look straight ahead, not at guitar at all (strum and fret memory)
I need to start writing a lot more about thoughts, observations, and tips in here. I should make one entry for the week and then just keep adding to it as the week progresses and something new comes up. I’m doing something related to guitar almost all week between videos, reading, and actual practice. That way, I also won’t have to sit down on Sunday nights and pound out something for an hour which will absolutely forget some key points.
Looks like I have a lot of ways to get better. I’m motivated. ‘Til next week, or in a couple days.