Throughout my life I've run into musicians who seem to fall into two camps; schooled and unschooled. Typically, many unschooled musicians tend to be distrustful of schooled musicians, thinking that they are overly academic in their approach and don't "play from the heart." Schooled musicians, on the other hand, seem to have a tendency to look down on unschooled musicians, finding them to be undisciplined and incomplete in their training. Personally, I believe each has it's own advantages and disadvantages, and that neither is "better" than the other. I definitely don't believe the academic approach is somehow inherently detrimental to playing with "heart" or "soul." The joy of hearing and making music, and the feeling of connection to the rest of humanity that it gives me are the reasons I wanted to play in the first place, and that's never taken a back seat to the analytical, intellectual approach. To me, music is and always has been about feeling. As a matter of fact, probably one big factor in my frustrations with technique has always been the fact that I was totally self taught for the first 5 years I played guitar. I learned a lot of bad habits through being self taught, and ignored later teachers' suggestions that I try to address those problems, thinking "no, man, don't try to change me, that's my STYLE." I was always frustrated with my lack of "chops" and, rather than working on playing more efficiently, I'd just practice harder with the crappy, tension filled technique I'd developed on my own, and sort of "force it". Then, when I turned 30 or so, I started having all sorts of problems with tendonitis, and finally realized the value of playing with good technique. Since I started playing primarily with my fingers several years ago, I've concentrated on trying to stay as relaxed and efficient in my movements as possible, and it's really paid off for me. I can't necessarily play "faster" now than I could with a pick, but now I can do something like practice at a blazing tempo for hours without getting tired at all; when I was playing with all that extra tension I could play fast tempos but I'd be completely worn out after just a few minutes. The only trade off has been that it seems to take me a while to warm up with the fingers, although the longer I play with them the less that seems to be an issue. I'm not advocating that all guitar players should play fingerstyle, but just that in general there is definitely value in approaching technique from a scientific viewpoint, and paying attention to efficiency of motion. Improving my technique has had the effect of making my guitar playing, and therefore, my life, less tension filled. With less tension I have become more happy with my playing, less frustrated.
Meditation / Ground Zero Revelation / Sound
Dealing with Getting Nervous / Introduction / Technique