After struggling over it for a few weeks, I have finally got a handle on slides. Are they perfect? No, it would be unrealistic to think they would be when I’m still a beginner, but I’ve reached 100% completion on the lesson and am executing them correctly 98% of the time, if I’m still suffering from a lack of speed switching between strings and frets that’s plaguing me with everything. I am speeding up, but slowly, and there’s really nothing but time and practice that’s going to help with that.
So, I’ve clicked on the next lesson on the list, which is bends. And, my brain implodes all over again. I understand it on a conceptual level, but execution is just not there. Rocksmith’s description of the lesson is atrocious, so I’ve also googled and found myself right back at justinguitar.com. That helped clarify the technique somewhat. My ears aren’t really attuned yet to knowing the sounds of individual notes, so I think accuracy in bends is going to probably be a way off. I don’t know how far to bend the strings, I don’t know when I’ve reached the point I’m meant to or when I’ve gone past it. I admit I also feel intimidated that I’m going to damage them somehow if I push them too far. The associated guitarcade game keeps starting me off bending the low E string, which seems insensible. It seems like that must be the most difficult string to bend, which just doesn’t seem like a practical place to start with this sort of thing. So, I guess you can say I’m mentally in the same place with the bends lesson that I was with the slides lesson when I started that.
I’ve jumped around a bit because of that and also tapped a bit into the tremolo lesson. It amazes me that it tells me I’m doing well with it when I know it sounds like hell because I don’t pick quickly enough, but expect that’s also a matter of time and practice.
As far as chords? I’m still working on the same handful of them, but as long as I’m conscious of how hard I’m pressing the strings, it’s getting easier. Last night I actually managed to get the F5 chord down with some consistency, as long as I kept telling myself ‘relax, and just push lightly.’
I’m reminded today that I actually had the same problem when I took karate when I was younger. I have a bad habit of trying to muscle my way through things. Now, that makes sense when you’re stronger than the average girl – as I was in my karate days. You get accustomed to having this strength that you can rely on to do the work for you by just pushing a little harder. It doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense when you’re a tiny little wimp, which is more or less my current physique. 😀 The mentality is still there though, that pushing farther means pushing harder, and that’s clearly really counterproductive when learning anything, but especially a musical instrument, because it means I’m creating tension that’s hindering any progress on speed. I feel like I need to become a little more zen about it all. Remind myself to relax, to breathe. Teach myself how to find my center – or, foregoing that, figure out what that sweet spot is between pressing too hard and not hard enough. Once I get that, I feel like these fundamentals will be a lot easier to get my head around.
Until then, taking the trial and error route, you know, in the name of science. 😉