2016 is upon us, and I don't know about you, but I didn't see a single flying DeLorean all of last year.
Anyway. I've written here before about New Year's Resolutions, and we all know that they usually amount to no more than three days of gymn membership before finding yourself blind drunk and face first in a kebab (just me? OK then..).
But it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, the whole New Year's Resolution idea could be approached a different way. Up to now, I've always approached the subject with my students by finding out what they would most want to be able to do on the guitar by the end of the year that they can't do yet. Once I know what direction a student wants to take, it's a much simpler task to break that journey down into a series of progressive steps to help them reach their destination.
However, now I'm thinking of a different approach, one to help remotivate students who feel that they've “plateaud out” and can't improve any more. An awful lot of the time we keep ourselves blinkered in our approaches to many things, ignorant of what Donal Rumsfeld notoriously described as the “unknown unknowns”. Think of all the genres of music you've heard or seen and thought, “not for me”, or more perniciously “I could never do THAT”.. You could be a classic rock player aspiring to the shred approach , or a blues player nervously hovering on the edges of jazz. You could be a “thumb and strum” acoustic player fascinated by the seemingly arcane intricacies of classical or percussive styles – all these styles can seem hugely intimidating and on the face of it, utterly impenetrable.
But they're not.
I'm a firm believer that there is no greater satisfaction to be had in life than identifying something you thought you would never be able to do, a challenge that you never thought you could meet – and doing it. Whether it's learning a language, writing a novel, running a marathon, learning to fly – or on a more modest guitar-based level, tackling a technique or style that you never thought you could – make 2016 the year you give it a shot. It may well prove easier than you think.