Does it Need to Sound Perfect?

I think us "musicians in learning" maybe take the idea of learning a song too serious. We listen to a song or maybe grab a tab to one somewhere off the web and sit down and start to teach ourselves how to play it. This is all cool and everything but when it doesn’t sound like the actual song then we start thinking about a few things. Giving up on the song and start looking for another one to learn or worse yet we set the instrument down and back off from it leading to frustration and getting stuck in a rut and possibly even quitting.

So why beat yourself up over it! Yeah we all want to sound just like it does on the CD. Unfortunately what is not realized is that if you went to see most of your favorite artist live and in concert you’re not going to hear the artist perform their songs to perfection. The thing we forget sometimes is that we don’t even really care that the artist does not sound just like their CD and we still enjoy the performance, so why hold yourself to a higher standard.

Some people may argue that to learn the song means to learn it note for note. That’s all fine and dandy if you’re a concert pianist or on the road with someone like the Trans Siberian Orchestra. But when learning I think it’s just unrealistic to expect ourselves to perform to these standards. We set ourselves up for failure thinking this way.

So what’s the answer? The answer is to quit over thinking the song your learning. Figure out the chord structure and the strumming pattern and go at it. Once you get the basics down you will start figuring out how to add little twists to the song so it will start to sound similar to the one you’ve been listening to. But you need to start somewhere, you need to start with the basics and you don’t need to make it sound perfect. I’m sure when you play the song for your family, friends or even just for yourself they will feel proud of how you performed and you will too.


Anonymous said...

Looks like RHM is making headlines...


...well being re-posted. Regardless, this post was written for me. I thought I needed to sound perfect but as long as I can play...that will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh! Now you've gone and done it. The "perfectionist" in me thinks this particular post is hogwash! The rest of me thinks it's great advice and something I really needed to read right now. I think I'll listen to the rest of me. Don't worry about that "perfectionist" side. The rest of me doesn't like him very much anyway.

Daddy Rose said...

How do you know when you are ready to start practicing songs? I am quite sure that for "me", now is certainly not the time, but there must be a time somewhere? LOL

Anonymous said...

I was preparing a similar post after reading so many "What's the strum pattern for this song?" questions in guitar forums.

Who cares? As you point out you won't sound like the original anyway. Just strum what you feel like.

Thanks for the nice post.

@The Old Man - I'd say when you know two chords and can change between them. But then I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so maybe one chord is enough ;-)

Sarge said...

@ Gary - I'll be looking for your post!

@ The Old Man - Kepp working those chords! You should be ready anytime.

@ Stormy - I sometimes hate the perfectionist side of me.

@ MJK - The whole idea is to have fun.

Anonymous said...

Perfection is the goal but permission to make mistakes is IMO a very important step on the path. Getting too hard on yourself can actually hinder the drive to improvement - it leads to anxiety, frustration and tension - none of which is good.

Daddy Rose said...

@Gary & Sarge...What? 2 Chords? Ready anytime? I was expecting you folks to say "In about a year after you finish the Intermediate DVD" Holy Smokes, you folks have no fear of diving in head first aye? LOL