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Don’t Let Others Set Your Goals

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself while learning guitar. It’s easy to want what others have — be that technical skills or repertoire pieces. This sort of competitive attitude can be healthy. It can drive you to new achievements, and help keep your focused.

When Comparison Becomes Unhealthy

Everyone compares themselves to others. It’s what drives that sense of competition. The danger is when you start competing with others solely to compete. “I want to play Asturias,” says a student. Why? Is it because others are playing it? Or is it because the piece is a “standard”?

The danger of this sort of thinking and goal is threefold. First, that imaginary student only want’s play the piece because others are doing it or because of some preconceived notion of what classical guitarists should play. Second, the goal of playing that piece (or playing scales at 120BPM or a given arpeggio at the same tempo, the list could go on) could be unrealistic and unachievable. Finally, the student…

Let Others Set Their Goals

By buying into what others are doing, we run the risk of letting them define what our goals are. This is dangerous, and it’s herd behavior.

The bottom line is that musicians are only in competition with one person: themselves. The goal is to continue improving. That means setting goals that are realistic (but push you), and doing things that will be beneficial for your own playing. Don’t let others define what you do. And never fall into the trap of having to play some piece or achieving some arbitrary beats per minute number on the metronome.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 November 24
    Matt Callihan permalink

    This is a good post, Chris. I notice this same mentality in long distance running. People seem to compare themselves to others for a standard of what is “good” or “bad”, rather than to determine what is “good” or “bad” for him/herself.

    I get the impression sometimes that people think that anybody who does not aspire to be a “Segovia clone”, for example, does not have his/her goals set properly. Guitarists should aspire to be “authentic”, not clones.

  2. 2010 November 24

    As a player, and builder of guitars, and more importantly in life, I feel goal setting is very important. Short, medium, and long term goals should be written down, and checked now and again. I certainly agree with this article, set your own goals!

    Strength,
    Paul Weaver
    lamareguitars.com

  3. 2010 November 25
    Justin Rutledge permalink

    You never understood that it ain’t no good
    You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you

    -Dylan

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