Professional responsibilities and progressing as a guitar player

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by wannabguitarist, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. wannabguitarist

    wannabguitarist Contributor

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    This is more directed to the older members here, but how does everyone balance professional and life responsibilities while improving as a player? Bit of long ramble ahead.

    Back when I was 17-19 (Jesus Christ it's been a decade) I used to play guitar for hours everyday. Never learned theory, but I would just jam endlessly in my room. This was probably my peak as far as playing skill goes. Once I started college I stopped practicing and would only occasionally noodle a few times a week. Wasn't feeling the instrument and eventually quit playing altogether after a bad wrist injury (thankfully I kept my gear). This phase of playing once a week to never lasted probably 2-3 years sadly.

    In my early-mid 20s I landed a position at a very demanding job I was totally unprepared/under educated for. Was working 10-13 hour days and having to study/learn after work to make up for my knowledge gaps compared to my peers. During this time I rediscovered guitar playing as an outlet. A way to blow of steam and relax every night. I didn't really improve as a player, but I did learn that I still loved the instrument.

    Now I'm comfortably past the wrong side 25 and I'm struggling on how to fit music into my life. I have a relatively normal job (45 hours a week, rarely 55), but I recently committed to getting my CPA by the end of 2018 which is an additional 15-20 hours a week of studying so actual free time is still limited. I still really enjoy playing but when I take a step back and think about my playing abilities I get kind of disappointed. I've owned guitars for over a decade now and I struggle to play songs I learned back when I was 19-20 (Evolutionary Sleeper is the current source of frustration). I know once I finish my certifications I'll have more time to practice (and maybe even learn some theory), but I also know there will be other major life responsibilities looming. Marriage, house, children/racecar.

    I guess what I'm getting at is while I don't see myself ever truly quitting guitar, I also don't see myself getting much better than where I'm at now. Maybe if I'm lucky I can get my own office in another 20 years and keep a guitar in there for slow periods at work :lol:
     
  2. Eptaceros

    Eptaceros Wayfarer Contributor

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    I work 60+ hrs a week, I'm in a relationship, and I also play guitar in a touring band. With what limited time I have, I realized that my technical skill has peaked and I'm very okay with that. I'm proud and happy with my level of shredding, and I don't see a need to keeping pushing those limits. Instead, I spend most of my guitar time writing and recording (or trying to, since I've always neglected those aspects).
     
  3. cip 123

    cip 123 SS.org Regular

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    Evolutionary sleeper ain't an easy song either! It's a fast little finger twister.

    Perhaps maybe try to rediscover the fun in learning the songs? Yea it's fun to be able to jam out songs but you need to work at it which can be equally fun as you see yourself progress.

    If you don't have much time just try to find the joy when you do get to play, even if it's a short time learning things, Guitar is an outlet but it should be fun :)
     
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I can commiserate, but I can't really offer anything useful.

    When I was at University, my life revolved around studying and I fit in music when I could. When I finished there, and got a good job, I was surprised at how much free time I had, so I spent a lot more time playing music. But then the good job fell apart and I got into a romantic relationship and I also moved - next thing I knew, I was working 100-120, sometimes even 140 hours a week (no, that's not a typo, I had two full-time jobs and both were working me overtime, plus a part time job on top of that and I was only sleeping for 20 minutes once or twice a day). As a result of my long hours, my health started falling apart and I burnt myself out just about the time I moved again and got a decent job again so I could put a little time aside for music, again.

    While I hope no one ever finds himself or herself in a situation where 100 hrs/week of work is necessary to stay on top of bills, I think the overall idea there is a common experience for a lot of people as the economy ebbs and flows and as personal issues come and go.

    Usually, if I make my intentions at home known that I'm going to play the guitar from X to Y PM, I'm good to play for that time span without much interruption. If I join a band, I have to explain to the band that I'm a family man who works days, so band practice time has to be limited to once a week for only 3-4 hours max, but that I can promise to learn my parts in the woodshed prior to getting together. If the other guys in the band are in similar situations, it usually works out perfectly, but you get one guy who is single without kids, and you might run into trouble. :lol:
     
  5. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Start jamming with people when you have the time. Also, try not to beat yourself up about downtime while getting your CPA. That will pay off and you will probably find guitar time even more rewarding.

    I work 40 hours, married and I tour 3 months of the year. I almost never pick up the guitar for fun or to revisit songs I used to play. It's sad but it's where I'm at.
     
  6. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire Contributor

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    I'm currently full time employed and also have a lot of sporting commitments. I get up an hour earlier than I normally would every morning and do an hour of warm-ups/drills (unplugged or with headphones). Then when I get home from work I only usually need to do a 10-15min warmup and I can launch into whatever I'm leaning at a time usually try for an hour's worth minimum, more is great if I can.
     
  7. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    Is this a repost? Maybe I’ve been here too long and see one of these every few years, lol.

    In short? You don’t progress as much nor as fast as when you were a broke kid.

    I basically work and study. Spent all last week calling/emailing clients for 50+ hours, studied for another 15 or so, and went home to take care of the wife/cook/Home things because she recently needed stitches in her hand and can’t do much. Left my house at 6 and came back at 9:45 tonight just to get 2 hours of study in with a partner.

    Either you make peace with it, or you make being a broke musician your priority over other things. And I sure as fuck wouldn’t trade anything for more time with a metronome. $0.02
     
  8. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    A big part of me was realising how many hours I actually had left in the week. If you're working 55 and studying 20 and lets give another 10 for headroom, that still leaves you with 83 hours in the week. If you sleep 8 hours a night, you have 27 left, or just under 4 hours a day. That's a lot of time - though it's easy to feel like it's not, if you don't stay organised and just waste it away in minutes here and there. That's plenty of time to fit some good practice in even allowing for chores and eating etc. You didn't mention if you have a family, obviously that can make a big difference and make it harder to work to a strict schedule.
    I'm self employed with a growing business and a family so I'm basically working every waking hour that I'm not with them (and if I'm not, I should be - as the todo list is always full). I've taken to just getting up earlier - nobody needs 8 hours of sleep (though it can take a while to break out of the habit). Getting in an hour or two of practice before the family wake up really puts my day in a good place and makes me feel better about things.
    The biggest challenge has been the abrupt switch from having all the time in the world, to having 'no time at all'. It led to me basically not playing for 2 years, because I thought "what's the point if I can't sit down and relax for at least a couple of hours and focus on a project?"
    I've had to accept that that isn't happening any time soon, and just set a very manageable goal of 15-30 minutes of playtime every day. Accepting that for what it is, and knowing that I absolutely always have time to fit that in somewhere no matter what, has really helped. I can just sit down and play without too much expectation. Focus on a particular exercise or write a few bars of music. Progress working like this this year has been way faster than I thought it would be, and it makes me realise I was stupid to pretty much not play for 2 years. I've probably amassed more total time just picking up the guitar for a few minutes at a time in the last few months, than I would in a whole year of taking long breaks between the rare times where I'd actually have a day to fit in a few hours of nonstop practice. I've also previous been so focus orientated, only practicing properly for long periods of time in my room etc, that for the last 4 years of living with my wife I never bothered to have a guitar sitting around on the couch or anything. I recently put a guitar next to the couch to noodle when I'm with her sometimes and realised what a big mistake I'd been making not doing so, haha. If I do want that focused studio time, I just have to knuckle down, set an alarm for 4 45am or so, feel rough for ~20 minutes and then have an excellent day
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
    wannabguitarist and watson503 like this.
  9. Ralyks

    Ralyks The One Who Knocks Contributor

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    Slowly. I’m a single dad with full custody and work full time. My son goes to bed at 8, so I try to get my playing in at much as possible then. Or, I play to entertain him and he then tries to play on the ukulele (he’s 2, so it’s size appropriate :lol:)
     
  10. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    After my son was born, I felt like my days needed 10 hours on top just to get anything done. I skipped all the play-my-faves-noodling-composing-stuff and kept it to 30 minutes of strict technique excersises on as many days as I could. I usually found time for this just before going to bed or by setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier in the morning. Made great progress during that time which showed me I simply noodled around too much in the past... :agreed:
     

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