Guitar practice minutes logged since last post: um… about 40 minutes all together, I guess.
I made a nice schedule for myself, teal and yellow, hard to miss. I mapped out the week. I penciled in some ambitious stuff, including frequent chunks of excellent guitar practice. I fastened it to the cork board above my desk with a thumbtack.
Then, I went about the business of ignoring it. Oh, I thought about it all right. But I still ignored it.
BUT IT'S OKAY! Progress does not follow neat and tidy trajectories. Progress is like really intense interval training: meandering, sprinting, resting, heaving, back-pedaling, resting, sprinting, power-squatting, stretching, walking, prancing, climbing, sideways-pedaling... When I get back on track, I will throw semis with the sheer force of my discipline.
Although I know step 1 of my plan to play guitar and sing in front of strangers is to embrace the inevitable suckage that will occur when I get all nervous and sweaty in front of a microphone (Don't coddle me: it doesn't work. At some point I will give an embarrassingly shitty performance.), I do want to minimize the suckage to the best of my ability, which requires me to practice. I must practice the guitar. Because I don't--I don't practice the guitar. I think about practicing the guitar. But I don't.
However, in the short stretch that I did practice, I learned that I have no real practice plan. Piano was very structured. I had scales and chord progressions and exercisey songs and recital pieces. I had to write down everything I did and show it to Mrs. Fremar who would then dole out the stickers. I was an absolute sucker for stickers. With the guitar… nothing. I pick it up and strum aimlessly, or I putz through things I made up. I make up chords, because I don't know what the notes are. I don't know music theory. My last year of piano lessons was my last year of piano lessons, largely because Mrs. Fremar made me study theory, and it felt like my soul was dying. I don't want to know what I'm doing. I just want to do it.
My husband, Chris, is a musician and a former guitar teacher. He knows theory like… I don't know. Like a cow knows cud. He picks up a guitar and sees patterns and shapes. He says, "Oh, see here, this is a diminished 4th and a 7th and a sustained and a such and such minor with an ooglie pookie doo in the key of boink boink." I pick up a guitar, I see strings, and I say, "Oh, see, what happens if I put this finger over this dot thingy and that finger between these bar thingies? Oh, that's a nice sound. What other sounds go with that?" And that is how i build a song.
Which brings me to two concerns:
1. I am going to have to ask Chris to give me some structured exercises to practice. Which means my soul might die. So why do it, you ask? Because what I also recall about piano is that after I quit lessons, my playing turned really clumsy. It turned clumsy because I didn't pound through those boring, soul-killing exercises anymore. So… all that crap must be good for something. What good is a living soul if you suck?
2. I'm afraid I might need to learn some theory. Why? Because when I do make up songs, I have a hard time remembering it later. I don't know what to call anything, so it's just finger choreography. Nothing has a name. Much harder to recall. Moments of genius vaporize.
My goal before the next post is to learn 3 different soul-killing-but-good-for-me-except-for-the-soul-killing-part exercises and to practice them (and other things) for at least 3 cumulative hours. (3 hours in 10 days is doable and much better than 40 minutes in 10 days.)