Gijs Verheijke

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Getting better at playing guitar

20 Oct 2023

When I graduated high school I bought my first electric guitar. Up to that point I had been playing keys and producing music, but I was drawn into the challenge of guitar because my music preference changed and also simply for the challenge. Playing guitar became one of my primary outlets to procrastinate on studying during my student years. I got pretty good at it, let's say a solid intermediate level.

After university I kept playing regularly, but I stopped practicing. I just played what I could play, and when I moved to Asia in 2015 I stopped playing electric guitar altogether. I picked it up again during covid, but didn't really manage to get back to level I had in 2014. I didn't fall in love with the guitar I bought, a PRS SE, and I couldn't find the inspiration or discipline to play often.

But this year I got into playing with a jamming group through a new friend who is very into playing guitar. So now, for the first time in my life, and first time in almost 20 years after first starting guitar I am actually playing guitar in a band.

It gives me a strong reason to play more, so I don't look like a fool and let down my bandmates. But also it just helps to keep me inspired. It got me playing so much more that I felt the time was right to invest in a really good electric guitar, so I did. The new guitar is so amazing and plays so well that it constantly inspires me to play more. The flywheel turns.

The other guitarist is the band plays quite a bit better than me, especially faster. But he is not so far ahead that I feel like I can't catch-up. In fact, I feel like I CAN catch-up, so my competitive juices start flowing.

Now I find myself putting in deliberate practice toward getting better at guitar for the first time in more than 10 years. In about 3 months I got about 40% faster. Just by sitting down and putting in the deliberate practice with a metronome to get faster and more accurate. I'm now able to play things I have never been able to play before. It's actually incredible how much headroom there was and how fast progress happened.

It really makes me appreciate again the wonder of learning. Learning new things, maybe especially physical things, is an amazing feeling.