Change and Progress

by Hamilton
(Chicago, USA)

Hey Marc, I appreciate so much the info I see you make available and congrats on living the benefits of hard work and commitment.

Right now I’m facing a dilemma. I spent several years playing with the limited info of being self taught and even grew up with some well known great jazz/r&b guitarist in my local Chicagoland area : Nick Colionne, John McGee-LTD, Rico McFarland and either played with or played in some of the same venues.

My issue is, I have for the past 3-4 years attempted to re-commit myself to playing daily and digesting as much info, understanding of theory and hard work to improve skill level. I actually see improvement, but feel as though I kinda hit a wall and wondered if you’ve encountered this problem (and wanted to see if you had any strategic suggestions to attempt to get past this point.)

I have started the steps to pursue mentoring locally and considering your customized lessons training . Some considerations are time (I work, 40 hrs.wkly) and finance (must be reasonably affordable), but I do understand sacrifice equals reward.

Thanks again, for your patience and consideration.


Hello Hamilton,

I know exactly what you mean when you say “hit a wall”, and I think most musicians (amateurs or pros) face that reality at some point.

Since I cannot suggest exercises, licks, chords and tunes directly to you (you seem to be conscious of where and how to get the information), I simply want to tell you this :

The answer is “shifting gears”.

When I encounter a roadblock in my musical life, I try to make *drastic* changes ASAP. It can be anything, as long as their is change in the lifestyle.

For example, a while ago I wanted to avoid the “statu quo” so I asked myself if I wanted to go towards “more music” or “less music” in my life. Simply by questioning the situation, I flipped my musical life upside down in a matter of weeks.

Of course, I went for the “more music” option.
(and it seems to be your case too!)

So what can you do, in a practical sense? Simple suggestions :

-Listen as much as you can (CDs, radio, Ipod), obsess about it!
-Read through a new tune every day.
-Limit practice time and cover specific topics with a stop watch
-Don’t practice for a week but go out (for live music) everyday!
-Take up some *unknown* repertoire for you : classical studies, flamenco, death metal… (something new and different).
-Organize “jam sessions” (daily, weekly, etc.) and prepare well.
-Read books (jazz musicians biographies for instance)

(or a combination of 2-3 of the above)

Obviously, you’ll have to find what can “shake” you habits and make you go forward. Often, its not just practicing and learning “more, more, more” that does it. A simple shift of mindset will do the trick.

I hope this helps,
Marc-A Seguin