Days 16, 17, 18, 19 – Lack of Discipline Equals Little Progress

I wouldn’t say I made little progress the past four days. I didn’t, however, make the kind of progress I was expecting to make. Lots of distractions and no plan of attack took me all over the place. I did play, really I did. A lot! But I didn’t get out of my time what I put into it. Or did I?

I don’t mean to imply that I got 10-hours worth of progress out of my 10-hours of playing. I didn’t. I, perhaps, had a net gain of 1 – 2 hours of progress out of my 10-hours worth of playing. Quantity does not equal quantity and lack of discipline equals little progress.

I decided these past four days (I had an extended weekend due to Veteran’s Day and caring for my wife) to inundate myself with a myriad of distractions, all of which will pay dividends at some point, some sooner than later.

The distractions (in no particular order):

  • Getting my Blues Junior amp situated (I haven’t played on this in a long, long time)
  • Playing around with my Line 6 POD X3 Live effects board (I haven’t played with this in a long, long time and never figured out how to use it)
  • Setting up my Boss RC-3 Looping Station (I haven’t played with this much at all and certainly not for a long time)
  • Figuring out how to best record video until I get adequate audio input devices
  • Introducing new songs/progressions
  • Playing with each of my five guitars (mostly resulted in noodling rather than practice – I did land on my Martin OMC-15E)
  • Trying a variety of new picks to find one I like (I much prefer fingerpicking to strumming, but need to diversify my approach)
  • Tried to teach myself how to use a thumb pick (useful at some point, no doubt, but slow and clunky right now)

There you go, eight distractions in 10-hours results in my net gain of 2-hours progress. I don’t know if that’s a mathematically sound equation, but that’s how I feel. Being a teacher, I should know better than anyone that seat time doesn’t equal learning. Intentional use of time (as well as several other controllable factors) equals learning over time. All of these will pay dividends, as stated above, but need to be strategically built into my practice schedule.

What did come out of this is some quality time with my wife as she sat by my side while I played.

So, what have I learned these past few weeks?

Aside from re-acquainting myself with guitar, I’ve learned that guitar practice is for guitar practice; not trying out amps or picks or guitars. Trying new things is certainly an important part of growth, but I don’t want to sacrifice the benefits of quality, structured time for trial and error. Trial and error should and will have its place, but after I’ve met daily practice goals.

I’ve also learned that I work better when I set goals. My only goal going into this weekend was to practice 2 – 4 hours per day. That’s it. No musical goals. No technical goals. No measurable goals, period!

Moving forward, I’ll structure my time as I had previously structured my time. Monday through Friday, I’ll adhere to a regimen that includes finger mobility, technique, theory, and repertoire. I’ll mix it up to make sure that I’m working a couple of different things in these contexts throughout the week, but not becoming diversified to the point that I’m sacrificing growth at the expense of variety.

Moving forward, barring the occasional unforeseen circumstances, I’ll practice 2-hours per day and spend additional time on Saturdays and Sundays with the further experimentation.

What else have I learned?

  • Slow is best, but I hate slow and am most prone to error when I work slowly (but slow is best)
  • I hate recording video of myself, but it’s been hugely beneficial
    • Beneficial for helping me overcome nerves
    • Beneficial for getting outside myself to see things that I do well and things I need to improve upon
  • I’m dead set on achieving this goal
    • I’m three weeks in and still strongly committed to achieving my retirement dream
  • My retirement goal will only be achieved by setting and working toward smaller, measurable goals

Anyhow…before I get any more redundant, here’s an update on my time thus far (not going to post what I did because it was all over the place).

11/0, 11/11, 11/12, and 11/13 Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 34 hours

Time Remaining: 9,966 hours

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