Welcome to this edition of Fingerstyle Monthly. "Gird Your Loins For Battle"? What in the world does fingerpicking the guitar have to do with battle?
Nothing in a literal sense, I hope. But, to improve as a player, you do have to test yourself.
In some cultures, the way to adulthood included having to prove yourself through a physical trial, or test. When that trial was successfully completed, the testee was accepted as a full member of the tribe or group.
In modern times, the closest that many of us get to this type of trial is in the educational system. As we go through our schooling, we are periodically tested.
We have to vigorously apply ourselves to our study materials in order to do well on the test. This, in a perfect world, makes us more knowledgeable about our topic of study.
After our schooling is completed, formalized testing is over with for most of us. Our degree, educational or professional, shows that we've suceeded in our trial.
Here's how this idea applies to us as musicians. Many of us are sit-in-the-living-room, play-for-our-own-enjoyment, kind of players. We play to unwind after work or school.
This is a great way to have music enrich our lives. The problem with this, though, is that we frequently don't progress. There is no longer a test, or trial, that we need to ready ourselves for. So we just float along and don't have much improvement in our playing.
Maybe we should have a test to help keep us on our toes. A test like, say, playing a gig. Don't faint!
For some people, performing in public is a scary idea. That's where the battle part comes in. Your trial by fire. The idea is to be so well prepared that you can perform despite your nerves. And, if you do make a mistake, to be well enough prepared to cover the mistake and to keep going.
The knowledge that preparing for yor battle/gig brings will stay with you and will be a building block for better skills.