It’s really hard to feel zen about a lesson you can’t complete, when you’re stuck at 93% for weeks on end. I honestly had to walk away from Rocksmith’s Bends 101 lesson for a week for the benefit of my splintered sanity. Coming back to it just got frustrating. No progress. No progress. Negative progress. No progress. Yesterday I finally cracked 96%, so I was determined today to get that one godforsaken note that kept hanging me up (which was, of course, just as much an issue of speed as accuracy – the quick shift from the 9th to 14th fret was fine in and of itself, and the bend was fine in and of itself, but shifting from 9 to 14 and bending in the span of time allotted for it was enough to drive a gal mad. Okay – this gal, anyway. Mind you, I’ve only been at this for, what? 3 months now?
So, today, I was determined – with equal amounts of righteous anger and determination to be zen about it all – to complete the fucker.
Alright, so that declaration (and the dance of joy that followed) are probably not even remotely zen, but at least I’m not staring at that mocking 93% completion anymore.
I feel less bad about staring at lower completion levels for ages. After all, my completion level is low, ergo, I’m obviously complete shit at it. But, when the completion level this high, I am…slightly less shit at it, and obviously being held up by something stupid, like a single transition I can’t make work, or speed, or something that as a newbie I just have to fumble blindly with until I get it right.
So, not too long ago, slides were my nemesis. These past few weeks, it’s been bends. I know, realistically, I probably haven’t been hung up on either of these lessons as long as it feels like I’ve been, because man, it feels like an eternity! Time for a new worst enemy! Looks like the other lessons I’ve dipped into are (Legato: 34% complete, Tremolo: 50% complete, Palm Mutes: 11% complete, and Harmonics: 39% complete). I’m not sure which of these will be the next on my hit list. Most likely, legato or palm mutes. Tremolo may have the highest completion level at the moment, but it’s also the one most requiring some speed, which I absolutely don’t have yet, so I think I should save that one for when I have a bit more under my belt.
I’m also thinking about my shoulder pain issues. At first it seemed to be strap related, because getting a better strap did improve matters, but I think it’s a more complex combination of things. The way I’m holding the guitar is inconsistent. Sometimes it’s at more of an angle; other times I’m conscious to make it as close to 90 degrees to my torso as possible. I’m not sure which is right, but I think whichever is wrong may be partly to blame for the shoulder pain. Also, expecting now that tension is contributing to the shoulder issues. Tension seems to increase as a sign that my hand is getting tired, so that’s something I have to be more attentive to. I’m finding harmonics great to fiddle with when I’m feeling tense. I like them for that because there’s little to no finger pressure required, but still string skipping and moving up and down the fretboard, so I can sit and practice these things while releasing tension. It’s a bit like cooling down after a workout, really.
In non-rocksmith related practice (Yes, I am doing both, but there’s less interesting things to discuss with just me and the mini amp. It’s a lot of ‘same shit, different day’, so I haven’t really had much to discuss on that front.) I finally sat down with the internet and started to break into a bit of learning to read tab. The first song the first lesson taught me: Happy Birthday. And, as ridiculous of a thing as it is to get excited about, it’s also the first thing I’ve done on my non-rocksmith time that actually sounds like music, so you can bet I went through the tab for that song over and over and over again. Well over a dozen times, just enjoying making sounds that I recognized come out of the guitar. I had less luck with producing anything that sounded recognizable in other songs in the lesson, but that’s okay – it’s a step.
So if you have suggestions for other super-easy songs to look up the tab to for an absolute beginner (that aren’t church songs, if you’d be so kind…) do comment and tell me what they are!
I’m also plodding away at scales a bit more, trying to get stretchier fingers, but progress on that is slow. And, I’ve converted a cheap acoustic to a lefty – but I think that deserves its own post, so will go into that in more detail later.
Until next time – defeating enemy lessons, one battlefield at a time.