So its the new year now. Happy new year!
Now on for the good stuff.
Its a year later…what have you done? What have you accomplished? Has it been a year of procrastination or a year of continuous action in the direction of your dream?
Millions of people play guitar. Only a handful take it ever so seriously. Im talking to you. You take it so serious that you can’t see yourself doing anything else.
Somethings holding you back though. Maybe its taking much longer than expected. Maybe its your job or a relationship. Maybe its 1 or 2 close family members whose thoughts of you are held too highly in your mind. This means you care too much about what they think. You want some kind of approval and some kind of “go ahead, I’m with you,” kind of dialogue with them.
Aint gonna happen.
Real guitar players don’t make excuses. They make records.
If you have a job and work 9-5 and have a family and play the guitar as a hobby, I’m here to tell you that you too can get very far with the guitar. You can also make a record. Ive seen it done before. Its a matter of hunger and whether you want it or not.
Stop making excuses. Cut out that part of your life thats not bringing anything of value to you.
You may piss off a few people in the process but those that are offended by your work ethic and how seriously you take things don’t really love you. They envy you.
Build Your Work Ethic
Do you know who George Bellas is?
He is one of the worlds great virtuosos. Read some of his interviews here. He practiced 18 hours a day at one point and started with an acoustic guitar on 13 gauge strings.
Do you know Greg Howe is? He was signed to shrapnel records at 24 years of age. They both were. George Bellas was signed even earlier. Shrapnel Records is one of the elite guitar virtuoso labels on the planet.
These guys have put in tens of thousands of hours more than you have on the guitar and yet we ask the question… why do they play so great?
It’s work ethic. It’s always been about work ethic. It’s always been about work. Its also a desire, an obsession, and a passion. They absolutely love to do it.
To them it doesn’t seem like work. But to you it won’t seem like work either if you just did it every day. What you just did…did it feel like work to you? The last time you picked up a guitar 10-20 minutes ago, last night etc… did it feel like work to you?
You got to do that over and over and over again. It’s an absurd amount of repetition. It’s work ethic. They simply work harder than you. That’s why they’re signed. Yeah maybe they had the right people around them. Yeah maybe they had better teachers. But the fact remains the same.
They have put in countless amounts of hours…
What does this mean for you?
It means you gotta step up your game.
How to Build Your Work Ethic as a Guitar Player
1) Become more acquainted with other players and with your instrument
The first thing you must do is to get more acquainted with your instrument. Listen to this podcast…No Guitar is Safe. Read guitar player magazine, browse guitar player websites and stay in tune with what these guys are talking about and doing. You will get something from each of these players.
Keep listening to the podcast as there are little gold nuggets in every single one of them. From Joe Satriani I learned one of his legato lesson he gave to one of his students. Brilliant.
From Guthrie Govan I learned how to be funkier and how to improve my phrasing. I bought his Rut Busting licks from Jamtrackcentral.com and now have 10 new backing tracks from the Oracle himself.
From Greg Howe I learned how to think about improvising in a new way. Contrast. From Greg Koch I’m Learning…be your damn self. I also picked up his Rhythm Riffs book and working on some advanced rhythm guitar riffs.
From Steve Vai I learned some great stuff. I’ll let you listen to that one on your own.
2) Do more
What have you not been doing that you could do more of? Is your ego getting to you telling you that you are bad to the bone and that you are good enough already? After a quick listen to lets say: Greg Koch’s “Rocky Mountain Gristle” I’ll bet that you might have some things that you’d not only need to work on but would like to as well. The guitar is a very diverse instrument . Fuck what you heard, get on the guitar, plug in and let her rip. Record yourself, keep learning and keep pushing forward.
Stop letting everything get in the way. From hanging out too much, to binging on Netflix. Stop all that shit. You don’t need it. Instead, do more of what you love to do. Practice more, record more. Listen to more music. Forget what others are saying about you. You’re a guitar player. Walk, talk and act like one.
Practice your ass off. Practice every day even if your ass falls off.
3) Read, write, record
Read about your favorite players. Record yourself playing and practicing, keep learning and keep pushing forward. Keep writing songs.
You thought you were a chord progression master up until you came across those suspended chords and other extensions. Are you really? Could you really come up with a fly progression that sounds killer right off the bat? Could you repeat that process over for an entire album?
In order to become your highest level you must have a work ethic of the gods. Which leads me to my next point…
Read guitar blogs, read books, read magazines, re-read old lessons. You may be unmotivated because you do not know that momentum plays a big part and the way momentum is sustained is simply by reading. Maybe a band is releasing a record this week. Read, read, read about everything having to do with the guitar and you will stay inspired. Your momentum will become sustainable and will gain strength like an avalanche coming down the mountain.
4) Build your work ethic
How do you build not only a work ethic but one of the gods?
Heres how you do it. Its very simple.
You (constantly) stay in action.
You take action every day for the next 365 days of the new year.
You read, then you write music and then you record yourself. You learn something new. You write an original song and then you repeat the process until you’re blue in the face. Then you go to the gym. Then you do it all over again. You read, you write and then you record what you wrote. When you learn something new, you apply it to a song of yours. Record again. Practice improvising riffs and licks. Record again. One day you will look back and you will be a master. Work until you have a work ethic of the gods and no one will be able to stop you.
Write down what you want to improve upon. Improvisation for one. New licks for 2. New rhythm riffs for 3. Rut busting licks. Out of the box thinking. Playing outside. Writing a sonata. Recording an entire album.
Find out by doing research about everything you want to do and don’t give up until you get answers. Come back to this blog and keep reading and indulging all the great ideas and concepts that you have read about. This blog is only just beginning. By the end of the first quarter of this new year we will have just gotten started.
Here is the formula again: read, write, record and repeat.
What does work ethic mean to me and my goals?
Thats the question you now have to answer for yourself. Take out a notepad and at the top in big letters write out this question but the formula stays the same. The only thing that changes is what song or technique you are working on.
In Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, he speaks about the gods looking down at the mortals and how they sabotage themselves because they quit too early. They do this and they do that and they give up. They laugh at people like that.
They can foresee the future and mortals cannot.
Read magazines or listen to podcasts. Use that inspiration to write new riffs, licks and songs. You record yourself playing and listen back for analysis. Keep learning new things. Keep writing songs. Repeat the process endlessly.
Do those things for the next 365 days and see what you come up with. I bet it will be great.
Again…You read for new information. You write music with said information. You record yourself playing said concepts. Thats the work ethic of the gods for a guitar player such as yourself.
Do this very well 8-10 times and you have a record on your hands.
Read, write, record.
Read, write, record.
Read, write, record.
See you in 365 days as the new you and I will also see you in a few days with a new post…