As I’ve recently mentioned, I’ve been working with a friend of mine’s son to teach him how to play guitar. We’re very early on in the stages of this process, but already, I’m realizing that there are things that can be done to help get those “quick wins” to make it feel like you can actually make progress and keep excited.
I remember going through books for a number of years trying to make sense of what I was reading, and realizing that either the theory was over my head, or that the images being shown only told part of the story, and I’d obsess over those little bits. In truth, after I started listening to music and watching others play, I started to realize that there were a number of things that seasoned players did that were much simpler. While I was wracking my brain and my hands trying to master these intricate chords, most of the players I would see, especially in rock guitar, would usually play the chords they were hitting with just two fingers and usually just three strings. Occasionally, they would hit chords where everything would ring out, but more times than not, it was much simpler that it seemed.
I realized that most of the chords I was showing my student could also likewise be simplified a bit, and that there were two finger variations of most of the chords he could use, and they could be moved up and down the neck easily. This makes for a big win in that I can teach him real songs without the minutiae (that will, of course, come later).
We often get sidelined because we don’t have enough knowledge to do everything. We get frustrated when we can’t get it perfect. Let’s stop thinking like that. Instead, let’s see what we can do now, and let’s see how effective we can be with a little bit first. Once we get our bearings, and we get accomplished, then we can expand our repertoire, but just like guitar, many of the efforts we get involved in can be performed with a lot less effort than we believe is possible. We just have to trust that a little can go farther than we think it can.