Tipsy Tuesday: Play outside of your comfort zone


Exactly two years ago, I was here in Charlotte preparing for my big move to California in August.  During that stressful, scary but oh-so-exciting period in my life, I was losing sleep from the anticipation.  Fortunately, I had the luxury of living alone so I’d play guitar at odd hours of the night–whenever the mood would strike.  I suppose you could say I was strictly a rhythm player although I had a strong interest in playing lead.  Of course, I wouldn’t admit this back then but I lacked the confidence to even attempt soloing.  And here’s evidence of it in an old notebook of mine:

  • “Soloing is like a conversation.  No point in playing a bunch of licks if they don’t convey how you feel.  Say what you want to say.
  • “Hear a lick you like then learn it.  Then change how it’s played: add a slide instead of a bend, play one part slower and the other part faster, etc.
  • “Record yourself improving and listen back.  Listen for parts that excite you and make you proud of what you did.  Then sit down and recreate it and tweak it.”

Then most importantly, “if you want to learn to play lead, don’t spend so much time playing chords.  Yes, learn them but work on LEAD.”  That tid bit cracks me up because I wrote it down to remind myself but I continued to focus on chords due to the intimidation of playing individual notes.  Why?  I haven’t a clue!

Nowadays, whenever I realize something intimidates me or makes me uncomfortable to play… I play it.  It should never take 2 years tackle something you want to play because it’s “hard.”  Nothing worth while comes out of being comfortable.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one learns that way.  At least, not me!

Note to readers: Please understand the tips I jotted down are not my personal advice and the sources are unknown–they’re probably from one of the many guitar forums I lurked in.

Image courtesy of John Kasawa /

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