I’ve played the guitar for decades. Well, sort of. I know lots of chords and chord progressions in several keys. But basically I’ve just plunked along, self taught, or with tips from people who were better than I. A few years ago, I finally started formal lessons. One of the things often said about the guitar is that it’s an easy instrument to play, but a hard instrument to play well. So true.
After a couple of years of lessons, I wasn’t much further along that when I started. I practiced not nearly enough. That goes without saying. But a couple of months ago, I realized I had other tendencies that were working against me. These were tiny things that I thought didn’t matter. I would be too rushed to file my nails. I’d wait till I got into the classroom to tune the guitar. When I did practice, I’d sit on any old chair or couch, just to get it done.
What I realized was that these tiny lapses were essentially expressing disrespect–for my stated goal of wanting to play better, for the difficulty of what I was attempting, and for all the time and money I was spending to get there. Now I make sure that, even if I haven’t practiced as much as I would like, I’m prepared in all the other ways. I practice on a straight chair that promotes good posture and guitar position. I have my music on a music stand, not just spread out on a table or footstool in front of me. I tune the guitar every time I pick it up. For some reason, and without my consciously doing it, these small changes have resulted in more, and more regular, practice. And I’m better. I can tell. So can my teacher. He doesn’t know that I’ve made these slight changes in attitude and behavior. But he sees and applauds the results.
Now I get the pleasure of progress, incremental perhaps, but noticeable. It makes me wonder, are there ways in which I’ve been treating my writing with lack of respect? If so, and if I correct them, will I also become a better writer? Or am I already doing everything I can in that area? I don’t know yet. It deserves a fresh look. Who knows what I will find?