Dealing with failure

Dealing with Failure

Failure is something that we will all experience at some point. It’s natural, and is to be expected when you’re on a path to improvement. Anyone can fail at a task, whether it’s not beating a time in a race, having a gig go disastrously wrong, or something as small as adding too much flour in a cake. People fail every day in life, but that doesn’t define who they are as people.

The way we deal with failure is what truly defines us and is what makes us improve.

Instead of replaying the issue in your mind and mentally torturing yourself, look at it from a different angle. What was the main cause of the problem? Were you paying attention when it occurred? Was there another factor that affected that one? Once you have looked at it from these angles, you can find ways to fix them and ensure that they don’t happen again.

Taking it as a learning curve is something that will seem difficult soon after the situation has happened, but the earlier you can accept what has happened, the easier life will be for you and the better you will feel. Sure you’ll feel embarrassed for the first few hours, maybe days, but laughing about it and moving on only has positive benefits, where as reliving the moment in your head will rarely help your self esteem and attitude.

The situation has already happened, so look at the best way to go up from there.

Failure is a natural step to self improvement, if we didn’t fail then we wouldn’t know how to get better. It can be quite refreshing to have a bad experience, not only does it make you much more vigilant in the next scenario, but it also makes you aware of how often it can happen and will help you keep on top form when you’re going through life.

How to better your life

How to better your life

Do you want to look like the man in the photo? Everyone does, I mean look how happy he is, his life seems perfect, but how did he get there?

I think its important to have aims and priorities in life. There are times when I have no goals to hit, this is usually after I’ve just achieved something ive been working towards for a while and I think “now what?
This is my take on what to do when you’re in that position, hopefully it will give you a clearer, more direct approach to bettering yourself.
For the past few days I’ve been lost for what to do with myself. I’ve just finished my University course, and had to enter the “real” world of work. The course had given me a purpose of what I should do in my life, but now that’s gone, how do I move forward?

Simply put, only you can answer it. I’m sure you may have seen that in other posts on this sub, but that’s ultimately it. This could take 30 seconds, it could take 2 months, but the importance of it is the you are thinking about what you want to do. Transitioning from a purpose to having none is liberating in a sense. You are in control of your life. You choose what you want to do, and how you approach it.

The dissertation I worked on spoke a lot about career paths in my chosen field, and of all the subjects I spoke to, the majority said that they found pleasure in their emotional satisfaction to their jobs as opposed to their monetary value. Having a job you enjoy can, on its own, improve your perception and happiness through life. Though this is discussing a post graduates point of view, I feel it could be applied to anyone else, provided their work ethic is strong enough to strive for what they love.

But what about the money to live and survive? Yes this is something to consider, especially with a huge jump in the direction you want to go. Easterlin’s Paradox is something that came up in my research and was something that gave myself a little perspective. In brief, it analysed trends of money and happiness and whether they were related. Findings show that there is a threshold of where money provides happiness, and that is usually when the costs of food, water, housing, and safety are covered. After that, psychological areas such as friendships and well being will be the determining factor of your happiness.

To get to the point where you are working for a job you love and being financially stable you need to work. And hard. This is the first stumbling block for most, because they don’t know where to start. My advice: Take a pen and paper to a place you find has little distractions, maybe a library or a coffee shop, and plan. Think about what you want and how you’re going to get to it. Look at other people and what they have done to get where they are now. Use it to your advantage. This step alone will influence your outlook and will be a huge step between where you are now and what you want.

The next stumbling block? Actually doing it. Don’t just plan and hope, you really need to hit all the targets you have set and make sure you’ve done the best damn job you can for them. This can be especially tough if you’re working other jobs and have other commitments, but clearing your distractions and going to that efficient place will increase your productivity tenfold.

Once you have put in that work, you will see an impact on your own life as you will be positive you’re following something you really want. Once you have it your targets, what else do you want from your route? Plan again, this time with different goals, and put in just as much, if not, more work than you did last time.

There is no secret to it, it is purely just “hard work”. But “hard work” is just finding a direction and making the effort to move in that direction to get to the place you want to be.

I hope this helps some of you, just a thought I was telling myself whilst running the routine myself.

Top tips for practicing guitar

Top Tips for practicing Guitar

There’s no better feeling than nailing a part of a song that you have been trying to do for months, but what about the practice time beforehand? This is one of the most difficult challenges we face as musicians, long repetitive sessions replaying the same parts to get the perfect, but what if there was a way to make your practice routine shorter, more effective, and more enjoyable? Hopefully these tips will help guide you in those directions!

1. Be clear on what you want to learn

This might sound obvious, but is something that a lot of people over look what their final goal is. Are you trying to perfect that tricky run in a solo? Is there a string you often accidentally catch when playing? Are there some chords you just can’t seem to hit every time? This is always the best place to be as you have a clear idea of the issue and can create a clear way to improve and overcome the obstacle.

2. Create a plan of action

So you know where you want to improve, now we just need to pave the pathway to improvement. Exercises that target the technique/passage directly are super important and directly influence techniques and motions that are used. Have a look at exercises or other musicians who are proficient in their craft. Why are they so good? Are they placing their fingers in a specific way? Are they using a motion that you have not seen before?
 A little bit of research can go a long way!

3. Act upon the plan, slowly…

Once you have found some interesting exercises and musicians, try it yourself but always start out slow. The key to learning new things is to master the motion/skill in a slow motion you your muscle memory can adjust to the new technique and have a good starting point. A great piece of advice one of my tutors told me:
“Play what you feel is slow, then play it at half THAT speed.” – Jon Bishop
Not only does this make sure you have complete control over your movements, it also encourages you to think about your playing rather than relying on muscle memory. This is the best way to avoid bad habits!

4. Metronome!

This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give if you want to improve you overall playing and musicianship. A metronome will take your playing from 0 to 11! You can find them for free on every App Store on your phone, or even use Google’s built in metronome here. If you can get a metronome that has a speed builder that would be an added bonus, as it increases speed over a length of time you you can improve your speed without worrying about stopping to change the tempo!
Once you have the technique/run in your fingers confidently, gradually increase the tempo on the metronome by about 5/10 bpm each time. I’d say a good way to progress is to increase the tempo speed when you can play the part 3 times in a row without any mistakes.

5. Treat yourself to breaks

This is something that is always overlooked by musicians, but I believe that it is so important to have breaks throughout your practice routine. I swear by the Pomodoro Technique, which is where you practice for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break and repeat. I feel this is important because of a few things.
Firstly, your mind needs time to recover. It needs a few minutes to take in the information that you have been feeding it for the past 25 minutes, and a short break will accelerate the process of learning, it also give you a little more time to reflect on what areas you’re excelling at and areas of improvement. After the break you will feel much more engaged than if you were to have a 2 hour long practice session, as you’ll be itching to get back on that guitar!
Secondly, your hands need time to recover. As nimble and fluid they may be, they need time to relax. The short break will be hugely beneficial in the long run. Rather than playing for an hour and burning out, with a short break in between you will be able to play much better with less strain, and your stamina will improve (a bit like practicing for a marathon), and most important you lower the risk of straining your hands.
Lastly, your muscle memory will develop quicker. Having a break lets the muscles in your arm relax and not overwork. With them working in relatively short bursts, this also improves retention. When you want to play super fast runs where you don’t always have the time to recognise all the notes, muscle memory is very important!
There are numerous Pomodoro timers online, however my favourite is Plato Timer. It looks great, very easy to use and customise (if you prefer a shorter/longer practice session/break) and I can’t recommend it enough!

6. Consistency over length

If you can, practice regularly, even if its for a short amount of time. Practicing for 30 minutes a day will always be better than practicing for 3 hours once a week. Your brain recognises repetition much more than an intensive one-off session. Visiting passages of music or techniques over the course of a few days will help your brain understand and retain more information as it is being refreshed on the idea daily.
Imagine your brain is like a water bucket you fill up every week. If you fill it up to the top with water and take it around with you every where, it’s going to be heavier, and more work, and overall tiring because you have made such a big jump from having an empty bucket to having a bucket full to the brim.
But lets say you top up the bucket every day, but only by a little bit. When you start out, you will find it difficult to carry an almost empty bucket around, but you will get used to it much quicker than if you had a full bucket. The next day, you add a little bit more. This doesn’t seem too difficult because you’re used to the small amount of water yesterday. By time you get to the full bucket, you’re much more comfortable because you have adjusted to it throughout the week and know how the bucket works.