I watch F1 and one of the more heated debates in recent weeks is the one regarding who is the better driver between Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Personally I hate these debates and I especially hate them when discussing music.
I don’t know where this originally started, but the idea of comparing musicians between them is stupid. Mostly because of this overused quote: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
If you’re an aspiring musician, then one of the worst things you can do to your growth is comparing yourself to other musicians. This is especially true for guitarists. And don’t get me wrong, I fell into this trap too. I was so obsessed with what Syn Gates of Avenged Sevenfold was doing and me being incapable of doing it that I somehow managed to stagnate as a guitarist for years…that’s right, not weeks, not months…years. All because I compared my abilities to his own without taking into account the fact that the dude has been doing this for years and is probably more passionate than I am, hence why he’s more motivated to get better at guitar.
After doing some studying, both music and myself, I figured that while I want to better my guitar skills, I’m also more inclined to creating symphonic music than I thought. Therefore, I actually spend a good amount of time figuring out how to write that type of music.
It was a liberating feeling. I now reserve time to study whatever techniques I feel like studying on guitar and whatever type of music I want to create, without feeling the need to compensate for anything. It’s a constant learning process. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true.
I’m not saying you should not be inspired to become as good as your idols one day. But you need to understand that you need to move at your own pace and that this learning curve is a marathon. Treat it like a sprint and you’re gonna run out of steam pretty quickly.
Finally, going back on the quote I have mentioned, everyone and I mean everyone has different ideas of what it means to be successful. Some might be content with being able to create a song using only the I-V-vi-IV progression. Other might want to best their idols in technique and speed. And there is a myriad of possibilities in between.
Don’t compare yourself to other musicians. The only people doing that are non-musicians who think they understand how any of this works. They don’t. Statistics are good for sports…they’re pretty much useless for musical abilities. Make the music you want to make since this is the only way you can find a style true to who you are.