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Not Satisfied with Your Progress? Try One Thing


Why can’t I ever seem to get this right?!!

Every one of us experiences some form of dissatisfaction with our playing.  We want to be able to play this song more smoothly, be able to create killer fills, or play a particular lick without having our fingers trip over each other.  Some of us are just wanting to make it through a worship service or gig without making a noticeable mistake (that was my goal for many years!).  Regardless of where your dissatisfaction lies, you can get out of that rut and overcome that area of frustration.  The reason many of us take so long to get out of our ruts is that we see our “musical monsters” as too big to overcome and try to overpower them by buying more books, watching more videos, and collecting as much information as we can hold.  Yet, we find ourselves not making the progress we had hoped.

Too Much Information

We live in a world of information overload.  You and I can access the greatest minds in music through the internet and spend days upon days gathering information.  There are over 100 bass guitar instruction books on the market that can be downloaded, or delivered to your home through Amazon.  The problem with all of this information, for me, is that I will become distracted, redirected, and overwhelmed.  If I want to work on improving my fingering on my bass, I’ll begin finding excellent videos and blog posts on the topic, but then find out that there’s another technique that I didn’t even know about.  The three books I ordered differ in their approaches.  Should I have been working on that?  Should I change the way I’ve been playing this song, or this lick?  Then, I look for videos on YouTube and come across a three year-old playing a Jaco Pastorius song on bass which makes me start feeling like a loser.  Don’t get me wrong, having access to all this information is an amazing blessing.  However, it can also be a debilitating curse.

Focus on One Thing

Identify a goal.  Take some time to think about what it is you’d like to work on and write it down.  Keep a piece of paper with that goal either on your music stand or a place where you will always see it.  Let that be a reminder to you every day to stay on that goal.  If you’re anything like me you will need reminders, constantly!  Keep some form of a reminder in front of you so you stay on task.

Here are a few suggested goals:

  • Learn one song a week
  • Play through a favorite song without error
  • Learn and play the 7 chords of a major key
  • Read and understand chord charts.

Try focusing on that one goal for 2 weeks.  Stay on your goal until you realize some success.  My favorite acronym for Focus is from EOFire’s John Lee Dumas, Follow One Course Until Success.  Take this time to follow ONE course.  Stay on that course and see how you improve upon your goal.  Believe me, if you focus on that one goal for the 2 week period, you will gain more ground than you ever would by working on it occasionally.

The sea of internet will still be there when you’re done:-)

Be like a postage stamp—stick to one thing until you get there. – Josh Billings