Bruce Lee on Why Goals Matter in Guitar Practice
They say that travelers on foot on snow-covered plains will throw a stone in the direction they want to go. Then they walk toward it. When they get there, they throw it again.
With the white stretching far in every direction, they could easily veer off-track and not know it. The stone gives them a respite from wondering. Instead of making a new decision with every step, they navigate only when they throw the stone.
In a land with no real landmarks, they create their own.
On guitar, we have infinite destinations we could aim for. But we often veer off-track before arriving. We become distracted by the next piece, the new exercise, the shiny new technique.
When this happens, we become confused. We sit down to practice and aren’t quite sure what to do. We dabble with this, then that, all the time wondering if we’re making any progress.
Pieces of music, target speeds for scales or exercises, a formal method or program – these all give our practice structure. These goals serve as landmarks to keep us on the path and moving forward.
Even if we don’t finish the piece of music, or reach the target speed, we still benefit from focused practice. And when we know what to do in advance, we can settle in and put our best attention on our work.
And attention and focus are the mechanisms by which we grow as musicians.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”