Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue... Easy Ways to Maintain Forward Progress in Your Musical Growth and Mastery Without Wasting Past Victories
The struggle is always the same, right? How does one balance on the tightrope of maintaining musical growth and mastery momentum while not allowing what’s already been learned to become a distant, not so clear, memory?
There have been many instances in my life as a musician where I’ve dug through boxes and boxes of books, dvds and old lessons and become very disappointed at the amount of material I’ve worked hard to learn and totally forgotten to apply...
A very simple idea I’ve used to overcome these disappointing times is based on the old wedding adage of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” It goes something like this...
Something Old (Review)
Within each practice session I dedicate a percentage of time to reviewing older material. This material could be past songs I’ve learned for gigs, techniques I’ve learned and haven’t been able to utilize in a while, old scale patterns and positions, chord shapes, phrasing tools, etc. I usually keep a list of things I want to review in my practice journal and simply refer back to the list when I’m planning my weekly practice sessions.
Something New (Learning)
I also dedicate a percentage of my practice session to learning new material. There’s no mystery here. This material consists of songs for upcoming gigs, techniques for styles I’m interested in adding to my playing and specialized content I develop for my students (yep, I actually go through the learning process for all content I provide to my students so I can help them avoid an unnecessary pitfalls that might occur.)
Something Borrowed (Finding Inspiration)
A small percentage of practice time is dedicated to finding inspirational playing. This could be the most important element of my practice sessions because it continually motivates me to get better and improves my learning abilities as I “borrow” techniques and ideas from online performances, recordings, method books, dvds, etc. While a lot of the ideas I find get placed on my “review” list mentioned above, I still gain the benefit of being inspired in the current moment... Win-win!
Something Blue (Going Back to Your Roots)
Another incredibly important part of staying motivated to push forward and maintain momentum is simply going back to what originally inspired me to begin playing in the first place. For me, it’s the Blues. It may be something different for you. Regardless, I always take a bit of time during each practice session to play some blues guitar. It may be specific songs I loved as a kid. It may be a 10-minute jam over the changes to a Hendrix tune... It’s always different, but it’s consistently fun and invigorating.
While everything in this article is common sense, it’s the simplicity of each element combined with the synergy between these elements that provide massive results. I would encourage you to try separating your practice sessions into similar sections for a week or two and experience the benefits an old marriage saying can add to your success as a growing musician.
Until next time, stay focused, stay consistent, and expect the best from yourself. :-)
About the author: Ty Morgan is a professional guitarist in the Phoenix, Arizona area. He also owns and operates one of the premier guitar education academies in the area. If you’re searching for rock/blues guitar lessons in Mesa, AZ and ready to discover the science of learning and mastering guitar be sure to contact Ty!