A lot of the time, guitarists seem to have curious targets. They define quality playing and aspirations as “I want to be as good as player X”, “I want to be able to play solo X”, “I want to be able to play jazz” etc…
While these aspirations are in no way bad things, and could serve guitarists well as short-term goals, they could often be taken much further. Why can’t you have the desire to be better than any player you’ve heard? Sound impossible? It isn’t impossible for a number of reasons. Here are only some of them:
“I frequently hear people speak of some guitarists as being ‘naturals’. Where guitar playing is a skill, the guitar itself (in it's current form) is an instrument which has had its basic shape and form invented, and then it has gone through a process of evolution. A guitar is not a natural instrument like the voice. As such, how can you attribute anything regarding the skills people need to play a guitar to be in any way natural?
The nature of a skill is that it is learned. Where there are people who have an aptitude for learning certain things at different speeds from others, that isn’t the acquisition of the skill itself, that’s the speed at which the skill is acquired. The skills required to play the guitar are obtainable by anyone (of ‘normal’ physical and mental capability) because of the nature of what a skill is.
If anyone has concerns about whether or not it’s possible to obtain the skill of guitar playing, they are unfounded. If anyone has concerns about how fast these skills may be developed, this is simply a question of how much effort you need to make. After that it’s just a matter of discipline, determination and perseverance. How much of each of these three things that you will need is relative to how good you want to be.”
Taking all this into consideration, it shouldn’t be too difficult to conclude that pretty much anything that can be done, can be done by you. This is something I find myself saying to my students all the time. Furthermore, a direction that the guitar can be taken in the future can come from you.
Raising standards is important to guitar playing because without higher standards and more challenging targets, the guitar doesn’t get to move forwards. If guitar playing fails to move forwards, it’s at risk of becoming stagnant and tiresome. At it’s very worst, if any serious and committed guitarist doesn’t aspiring to take the guitar further than they found it, their aspirations “to be as good as” rather than “better” could actually be considered a contribution to the instruments stagnation! This brings me to what I’m going to be focusing on this year: Taking the guitar past the point at which we found it, raising standards and as we move into the future. As we are growing, changing, evolving, and improving our lives, so we need to ensure that we don’t leave the guitar behind, and take care to bring the guitar with us.