What is good?
For years I kept my guitar playing private and only really played at home – occasional gigs, parties and duets would present opportunities to play to an audience but, relatively speaking, the majority of my playing when I was in my twenties was confined to the privacy of my home. I had this kind of idea that, when I was an awesome guitarist I would burst onto the music scene and take everyone by surprise and people would say “wow – who is he?!” But it doesn’t work like that…
When the question comes up (usually from non guitarists or non musicians) “are you any good?” or “you must be good if you’ve been playing for 30 years”… or “such and such and so and so are really good guitarists”… etc. It makes me cringe!! To my mind, there is no such thing as “good”. The question really is; “can you entertain people?”.
I know people who, literally, can only play 3 or 4 open chords on the guitar and that is it! The sort of chords that a beginner learns in the first few weeks of learning to play the instrument – but they can sing along and do a beautiful cover of a popular song! And that, for me, is far more entertaining than seeing a very technically proficient guitarist playing hundreds of notes a minute in a display of fretboard mastery that actually is not soncially very pleasing.
And this is where my learning was so flawed when I was younger… staying at home and practising and self-teaching and trying to become “good”. It was a waste of time! In hindsight, I should have done the following – I should have had a vision of the way I wanted to entertain people; and then learned to play the music to support that vision… and also I should have got out there and played to people in public. Building performance confidence needs to run alongside the learning and playing of the instrument, and not as some kind of add-on at the end. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Happily, I feel that, I can entertain people with my guitar – and Becs is an amazing singer and a great friend. Musically, I’m in a good place :-).