New Year Guitar Resolutions 2014

Around this time each year I like to look ahead and set a few goals for the coming year.  In this space I would like to share with you a few of my musical goals as well as suggest a few for my students and for those that haven't pulled the trigger on learning the guitar.

1.  Learn an instrument.  May I suggest the guitar?  This has got to be on the top ten list of all resolutions that are ever made, and it's a good one!  You may not feel like you have the time because you are busy with school, work, children, etc.  Learning an instrument, like any art form, is a life long process.  You take it with you through all your seasons of life.  And, I don't need to tell you, time flies.  Children grow up and move out, jobs change, retirement comes, and now you have a little more time.  Take your instrument along with you on your life journey.

2.  Memorize more music.  This one is for me and you.  I read so much music, that I actually resist memorizing it.   Every year I pick 2 to 3 songs (usually in the classical and finger style genre) to memorize and have performance ready.  You should do the same.  Memorize the chord progressions to your favorite songs, or pick a couple of simple instrumentals and commit them to memory.  Practicing is good exercise for our fingers, and memorizing is good exercise for our brains!

3.  Don't look at your strings when you play.  In particular, your picking hand.  This is one for my students (how many times have you heard me say this).  When you become less preoccupied with your strings, you will become more engaged with what you are playing.  Use your eyes less, and your other sense become more heightened.  Your sense of touch kicks in and you get a feel for the distances between strings.  You will also listen better, and your ear will become your guide.  I know why you look.  You are using hand eye coordination to aim for strings.  The problem is, you will gain the motor skill while missing the music.  Play without looking, miss a few notes, learn from your mistakes, it will be OK.  Throw your head back and play your guitar!

4.  Start your music on the inside and then express it on the outside.  This is for all of us.  Music is an art form.  If I asked you to draw me a landscape, you would probably put your hand to your chin and have one of those contemplative looks on your face as you think how you will go about your drawing.  You're thinking about what will be in your landscape, the color of the sky, the kind of trees, and maybe a stream that runs through it.  Your art starts on the inside, now you draw.  Music is the same.  Before you play your song, do you think of the tempo?  What is the dynamic range of your song?  What tone (color) are you looking to get from your guitar?  All good questions.  Music is art.

5.  Be a student of the guitar.  This last one is for all of us.  I may be a teacher of music, but I never want to forget that my journey is not over.   I have so much more that I could learn and in the process share with all of you.  Let's all commit to being better students this year.

Well, that's it from me.  Do you have any musical goals that you would like to share?  I am looking forward to seeing all my students in classes and lessons this year!


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