Confessions of an Autodidactic.

I read lots of articles & watch lots of documentaries on science, psychology, and music.
And I especially enjoy it when the subject matter is a combination of all three.

I am fascinated with how the mind & body work together (or not) to achieve results in any kind of goal-oriented task. Although sometimes there doesn’t appear to be any absolute conclusive science on some of these concepts, it helps me sort things out. It helps me attain a deeper awareness of the process of integrated learning. And I believe this knowledge helps me make informed choices on all the things I can do to improve my musicianship skills.

But is this extra-curricular knowledge required to play at a high level?

Apparently not.

Otherwise, all the great players you have ever seen would have also studied science & psychology, in addition to traditional music pedagogy. And this simply isn’t the case.
Some of the great players I see/hear have had little, to no, formal study experience of… anything. They just played a lot. If there was a singular thing that all people who play extremely well possess, it is this… they put in huge amounts of time playing their instrument.

I’ve yet to find any high-level player who didn’t share some kind of personal story that includes this experience. Sometimes it was a specific period of their lives, early on perhaps, where they played 8-10 hours a day at the expense of any kind of social life. And then they spent the rest of their lives composing, performing, and recording. (Oxford Comma alert!)

Maybe they just sat & jammed with recordings. Or they went through an intensive academic system and studied formally with a bevy of music instructors. To me, it’s obvious that if you take a structured approach, you will increase the likelihood that you will become a high-functioning player. But again, not every great player did this.

There are simply too many examples of people who play at an extremely high level with too many different kinds of approaches to say that any singular approach is the best & most effective. But at this point on my path, I am resolute when I say that, at the end of the day, it always comes down to putting in as much time as possible in actually playing your instrument.

Sometimes I catch myself striving to unrealistically distill the whole story into a singular unifying concept… or thread of continuity… or lowest common denominator. The reality is, there seems to be myriad concepts as we strive to figure it all out. I feel anyone can benefit from exploring the different approaches that can be taken to achieve one’s agenda.

Alas, the eternal quest to find the secret of guitar.

This is a futile goal… it just doesn’t work that way.

However, plurality provides the easy fix to that statement…

Find the secrets of guitar.

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