Steve Jobs on How to Improve at Guitar
How do we know when it’s time to start a new tune?
How do we know when to drop one exercise or study and pick up another?
With all the myriad things we could work on, how do we decide?
It’s common to have a “to-do” list. Many of us live by them. But what Jobs is recommending here is a “not to do” list.
To focus and bring one project to completion, we often have to say “no” to a thousand other projects.
If we want to really master that one piece of music, that may mean holding off on starting another. We may need more time to work on one technique before jumping onto Youtube and finding another. This is the price we pay for improvement.
Chances are, starting a new piece won’t get us that much better. But bringing an existing piece up to a new and higher standard – that takes work. And this work elevates our abilities and stretches our palette.
To get better on guitar, we need to ride the edge between challenging and impossible. We need to hit this zone in every practice, with everything we do.
But there are only so many hours in the day we can practice guitar. We can’t do everything every day. We have to decide. And that means slicing away attractive options. Not forever, but for now.
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”