I picked up the guitar for the first time in quite a while last night. I’ve been focusing on bass since I got the Schecter, and continuing to work on the uke – though more on trying to remember things I’ve learned and less moving forward in uke-land. But, the past few days my time with Rocksmith’s bass lessons have been kind of passive-aggressive, where I’ll start a lesson or practice track, and stop about 10 seconds in with ‘fuck this shit’, and sometimes I get the same about a certain song that’s just the teeeeennniiiiest bit challenging. Something that normally would be an ‘okay, this is a bit much for me/a bit too fast/I need to slow this down to learn the progression before I can play along, since it’s a bit much to look at the first time out at this speed’, the past few days has just kind of made me not want to practice.

This is a phase; it’s going to pass. I’ve had stints like this before. But, it’s also a sign that maybe it’s time to take a few days away from the bass to recalibrate and come back at it fresh.

Part of it is that I have to give myself permission to do things out of order. I’ve had it in my head that I have to get 100% completion on all of the 101 lessons before moving onto the 201 lessons, because that seems like doing things in order, but it’s also not realistic to assume that just because Rocksmith put these lessons in a specific order, that you’re chained to that. In fact, the opposite is true – Rocksmith gives you the ability to do the lessons in just about whatever order you want to. Sure, you probably shouldn’t tackle Slides 201 until you’ve completed Slides 101, but there’s no reason that you can’t work on a 201 lesson about synchopation just because you haven’t mastered palm mutes yet; they’re just not related lessons. There are no palm mutes in the synchopation practice track, so only being 65% complete on palm mutes is no reason to avoid it.

Sometimes, you just need to look at something new.

Knowing that that was a part of my frustration – that I wanted to look at something different – I went right ahead and cracked into that lesson, regardless of the level of completion I was on the 101 lessons (for the record, I am 100% complete on several of them, and several that I’m not, I’ve reached 100% completion on before, with a few notable exceptions.)

I have a weird relationship with the synchopation lesson at the moment. On the one hand, it’s not hard. On the other, I’m not really sure why I need a specific lesson and practice track to talk about it. Sometimes, notes happen on the beat. Sometimes they don’t, and when they don’t, that creates a certain effect. Yeah, and? Because, if that’s all you have to say on the subject, really, no shit.

Bearing in mind that I’m feeling bass passive-aggressive right now, though, take my comments with a grain of salt. I worked through the synchopation practice track a few times, then moved onto learn a song to end my bass practice on a high note, and ran through X-kid a few times.

After that, I put the bass away for the night and dusted off my guitar. Literally. The last several times I worked with guitar, I grabbed the acoustic, so my Godin was a little dusty and neglected. I knew a lot of this practice would be warm up and review, which is as it should be when I haven’t touched it in however long it’s been, so Rocksmithing was perfect for that; I hadn’t tried out the PS3 version with the guitar yet, and out of the gate blew through a few of the very early lessons, which was enough to get the feel of the instrument under my fingers, I guess. Those two extra strings still mess me up though; there’s a lag between my head and my hand of ‘which string is the orange one again?’ (Rocksmith is color coded.)

In spite of not touching the guitar in a while, there have been guitar thoughts and questions in my head, not the least of which was a vague wonder if maybe picking wasn’t at least a good chunk of my guitar struggle. I decided to try some of it without the pick. Sure, that changes the tone, but that doesn’t matter for what I have in mind at the moment. I just want to see if there’s a significant difference in speed and accuracy of the strumming hand once I take the pick away. I haven’t reached any firm thoughts on the matter at all, but I do think it’s worth experimenting a bit with pick vs no pick and see where that takes me. Even if it just takes me head first into a dead end, it’ll still be enlightening. The catch, of course is in whether or not Rocksmith is going to be sensitive enough to pick up guitar strumming when there’s no pick involved; I haven’t experimented enough yet to have reached a firm conclusion on that, either.

In any case, for the next few days, I think I’ll put my guitar hat on instead of my bass hat. I think I need the change of pace for a bit, and as long as I’m playing something, I’m still moving in a mostly forward direction. Even if that forward is really just backtracking and review, practice is still practice.

Until Next Time, switching hats for a little while. I seem to need the change of pace.

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