• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Help me focus!

scotth

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,447
I can't focus on my playing. I want to be so many things that I can't pick a direction and stick with it long enough to accomplish anything.

I'm good at setting goals and paths to get there, I just can't follow through.

In the last few years I've wanted to be (and still do) and tried : 1) Lead guitarist for Pearl Jam tribute band
2)90s cover band. (front man guitar, drums)
3)Studio owner/recording engineer
4)guitar speed demon
5) slide guitar
6) Jimmy Hendrix songbook
7) Lessons
8) write an album inspired by Black Keys/motown
9) garage rock band with my wife on drums
10) and today.. I was listening to Mumford Sons and dreaming about taking singing lessons and cover their material.

Music is so fun, that I just want to do it all! I'm so overwhelmed by choice that I can't get started on anything.

Wow, that was kinda therapeutic writing that list.

Anyways.. any tips on how to just focus on one thing?
 

NewLeaf09

Member
Messages
2,581
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake

Robert Service

Guess why I know this.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,163
I don't really have any advice to offer.

I'm kind of the same way.

I think, it means you'll never be the best slide player, or the best engineer, or the best instructor, but if it's what makes you happy, then there you go.

I will say this: You might want to get an honest assessment from an objective party some time. I have a colleague who is maybe very much like you, and while he's been "successful" at a local level, I think the reason he's tried all of these things is because he's trying to find a path to "success" that he's capable of doing, while putting aside what he was really super great at. IOW, he's lost his way, which is kind of a shame because he is so good at what he's really good at, and I think it's an emperor's new clothes with everything else he's involved in - no one wants to tell him that he doesn't really have the knack for those things, or if they did, he might not accept it. But you know, maybe he's just burned out on the thing he's really good at, and needs the diversions. Everyone has their thing.

Enjoy.
 

jaded_musician

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,340
I bounce around between guitar, keyboards, mandolin, but mostly guitar. I bounce around style wise as well. I started off as a keyboard player but always wanted to play lead guitar and that's what I do now in a band.

I don't have many goals at this point. I'm forever trying to improve my technique, speed and theory. Progress is slow for me, but I make progress with small random bursts of effort. Sometimes you just have to be accept the way you explore music and enjoy the journey for what it is.
 

ZeyerGTR

Member
Messages
3,996
Those are fine goals, but many of them seem like bigger, longer term goals. Instead of "write an album" maybe "write one song this month." It's easier to stick to and accomplish smaller goals. Break them down into smaller goals that lead towards the bigger ones.

[Edit] And don't be afraid to revise - just keep making progress. If you didn't finish the song this week, then make next week's goal to write that bridge it needs, or finish the next part.

You might also want to prioritize them. That will really help. How important is being good at slide guitar to you versus being a speed demon? How much do you want to be in a Pearl Jam cover band versus a band with your wife? Some may be dependent on others. If you honestly sit down and prioritize them I'm sure some will fall off the radar. That's a good thing!
 
Last edited:

brad347

Member
Messages
1,259
I don't really have any advice to offer.

I think, it means you'll never be the best slide player, or the best engineer, or the best instructor...
But it doesn't necessarily mean that. At all.

  • Brian May played pretty damn good guitar in Queen, and also found time to gain a doctorate in astrophysics and publish peer-reviewed literature in the discipline.
  • Les Paul played pretty damn good guitar, and also found time to pioneer and push forward the design/development of the modern electric guitar, and yet still also found time to pioneer modern multi-track recording, as well as several other innovations.
  • Tom Scholz played pretty damn good guitar in his band Boston, and also managed to be a pretty good recording engineer and designer of audio and guitar electronics, all after having graduated from MIT and having a successful career as a senior design engineer at Polaroid.
  • Tommy Cogbill was one of the great and most prolific recording electric bassists of the 1960s-70s; a session ace and virtuoso who was a major inspiration to Jaco Pastorius, and others. He was also a damned fine guitar player (that's him on "Think" by Aretha Franklin), a solid songwriter, and a first-rate producer. After the studio scene in Memphis dried up, he moved up the road to Nashville and did it all again, but in country music instead.
  • Prince
etc etc etc etc etc.

Limitations of time and focus are largely artificial, and all in our heads. Those who have the passion that leads to greatness will have that passion whether they focus on one thing or twenty.
 
Last edited:

Oneofthe

Member
Messages
254
I can't focus on my playing. I want to be so many things that I can't pick a direction and stick with it long enough to accomplish anything.

I'm good at setting goals and paths to get there, I just can't follow through.
This stuck out at me. I don't have this problem with guitar because it is my hobby (a hobby is a way of saying you love doing something not for the money) and my goals consist of things like, reading music better to read certain Jazz Standards and the like.

But, but, but in life when it came to careers this is what it felt like. Make a solid plan including all the licenses to get the certification but once starting it I really hated what I was doing so I would switch it. Believe it or not my current, "profession," is writer where there really is not path to it, no license to it. So, with humility, you may not like what you are doing or you may be making creativity work when it should just flow.

Keep in mind, I am a realistic dreamer. I do fantasize about one day driving to Texas (I'm from California) and playing a set in Amarillo at a sketchy, dive bar like I used to go to in my twenties...but that is a long term goal and I accept I may never do it.

Hey, Robert Frost said, "Make your avocation your vocation," in Two Tramps in Mud Time; it seems you went the opposite direction here, you are making your, "Vocation an Avocation," and man do I hate to work, fun can never work.
 

The bear

Member
Messages
10,900
It's great to be versatile and play and learn from many different styles, but at some point focusing on one thing(at least for a while) and really going in depth can be really useful. Once you "master" that style you can always visit other styles, and maybe do even better in them if you have a really strong foundation in one style. Certain things such as reading, learning theory, practicing scales and arpeggios with a metronome can be beneficial for most styles of music. You can set some long term goals and also some short term. Having a good teacher can also be a good way of staying focused. Good luck!
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,314
I think I'd take it a week at a time. I would begin by establishing what my greatest weakness is - and for a few days I'd work only on that. I wouldn't work on anything else. Just the weakness. Do it again and again. Work through things slowly - very slowly. Try to be honest to yourself about what you're not playing correctly before going to the next step. If you focus on whatever the weakness of the day is - and nothing else for a couple of months, I think that would improve your weaknesses and make you a better player. This stuff is slow going. You can't be in a rush, but you sure can make your playing time more effective.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
I think I'd take it a week at a time. I would begin by establishing what my greatest weakness is - and for a few days I'd work only on that. I wouldn't work on anything else. Just the weakness. Do it again and again. Work through things slowly - very slowly. Try to be honest to yourself about what you're not playing correctly before going to the next step. If you focus on whatever the weakness of the day is - and nothing else for a couple of months, I think that would improve your weaknesses and make you a better player. This stuff is slow going. You can't be in a rush, but you sure can make your playing time more effective.
I think that's solid advice for "how to improve, become a better guitar player/musician," but that's not what the OP is asking about. He's asking about direction, what he actually wants to do with music in the "big picture" sense.

OP, I'd say that if music is not your day job, ie, how you pay the bills and put food on the table, then just go with whatever floats your boat at any given time. If it's a hobby, no need for you to put pressure on yourself or get frustrated because you can't commit to something. Just do what you feel like doing today. If you're bored with that after a week, move on to something else. The only time I would say that would be a problem is if you make commitments where other people involved, ie, joining a band. Of course, there are situations that don't always work-out, but if you indicate to others that everything is kosher and commit to a certain degree, they're not going to be really happy if you change your mind in a week.
 

The Captain

Senior Member
Messages
12,790
I would not stress too much about it. I'm the same, but it's a fun hobby.
Some people are naturally inclined to be very focussed on a single thing, and some are not.
I'm jack of all trades, master of none and OK with it.
 

The Captain

Senior Member
Messages
12,790
I'm going to try to be a little more helpful.
The four things I have bolded go together. If you add "playing wiht the facility and groove of John Mayer" to the list, (which you should, BTW), then it fits too.
Personally, I would happily be Stone in a PJ tribute, but that's cool, cos you are gonna be Mike. Mike was a massive Hendrix fan, of course, so you can dig into the vast majority of what you want to achieve by focussing on Goal #6.
My goal list is very similar to yours and that's what I'm doing.
This year it's all about copping the Mayer/Henrdrix vibe. I'm starting by focussing on Bold as Love, from Continuum. I could probably make my life easier by working up from Purple Haze and Voodoo Chile, but I like BaL, so that's what it is.
In the process I will have to work on groove, learn the Emaj/C#m scales inside out, learn thumb over technique like it's breathing, and learn to play all those chord fragments and hammer on/pull offs that Jimi uses all the time, improve my wah technique, fingerpick, all that stuff. At the same time, I'm gonna nail that damn "slapping thumb" that JM uses so well.
Did I mention "groove" ? Both Jimi and JM groove.

I think you should ditch your Mumford and Son ambitions and put recording on hold until you have raised your playing bar to where you want it. You will need to write some songs before then anyway. That's why White Stripes>Black Keys career wise, and why guys like James Bay and Ed Sheehan are ascendant, while so many far more technical players are not.
Noting wrong with messing around with some slide and alternate tunings, that all fits wiht the garage band/grunge ethos anyway.

In the last few years I've wanted to be (and still do) and tried : 1) Lead guitarist for Pearl Jam tribute band
2)90s cover band. (front man guitar, drums)
3)Studio owner/recording engineer
4)guitar speed demon
5) slide guitar
6) Jimmy Hendrix songbook
7) Lessons
8) write an album inspired by Black Keys/motown
9) garage rock band with my wife on drums
10) and today.. I was listening to Mumford Sons and dreaming about taking singing lessons and cover their material.



Anyways.. any tips on how to just focus on one thing?
 






Trending Topics

Top Bottom