Speed Mechanics seems way beyond what Iíll ever be capable of. What should I do?
Yeah, it gets pretty advanced. But take it just a little at a time, and I bet youíll surprise yourself. You know, itís not like thereís some sort of time limit on it. And this isnít a competition. Just take it a little piece at a time. And maybe pick up one of the easier books, too, so you have a little more material to practice, and not just a bunch of difficult exercises. Rome wasnít built in a day, you know. How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time. They donít have to be big steps, either. They just have to follow one another, in the right direction.
Let me tell you about two specific things from my experience that I think bear directly on this issue. First, there was a time that I thought Iíd never be able to play lead guitar. Wow! That was way over my head. I had my hands full just learning the chords to this or that Kiss song. Then someone showed me barre chords. Man, those were tough: trying to fret all six strings without buzzing all over the place. It took me a few months. Then, songs really started to open up. Eventually I started learning some easy leads. Someone showed me a pentatonic scale. Then, I got Van Halenís first album. Wow! I started learning those songs and solos: the oneís I could, anyway. I formed a band, and learned lots of other songs. I tried to write some, too. Then I heard some Randy Rhoads solos. Intense. I learned a Bach etude, too. And I started teaching a little on the side.
Then one day I stumbled upon an opportunity to write my first guitar book for a major music publisher. I thought I could handle writing a rhythm guitar method. I even had a good instrumental tune to throw in at the end. But a lead method? Man, thereís so much to lead guitar...So many different styles of different players...So many techniques, different scales, and so on... I remember thinking, "How would I even begin to organize all that?" But a funny thing happened after I wrote one book. I started to realize that maybe I could write a lead guitar method after all. What once seemed beyond my ability seemed suddenly attainable. And I wrote a lot of other books. And I taught at a university-level conservatory. And I kept playing guitar. So the moral of the story is that what may seem beyond your reach right now, may become attainable sooner than you think. Just keep moving in the right direction, and youíll see your perceptions of your capabilities change over time.
Thereís another interesting footnote to this story, too. One day I came across an old cassette tape, on which I had recorded my earliest songs and solos--a little before I had formed my first garage band. I listened to it and I was amazed. It was bad. It was horrible. If someone came to me with a tape like that and said, "Troy, Iíve been playing guitar for a few years now, tell me honestly, do you think I should opt out of going to college and play in a rock band?" Iíd have said, youíre nuts! Go to school! But I didnít go to school. Instead, I played guitar, and I got good in time.
That taught me something. It taught me that following my heart really was the right choice. Itís always a tricky thing, to decide whether to rain on someoneís parade and tell them that they have a long way to go, and maybe they should rethink things, or just to inspire them so they "donít look down" and just go for it. So instead, I just tell you my story, and let you decide for yourself.
The fact is, life is a process, and we are all constantly evolving and learning. And we may not even know what we are ultimately capable of doing or becoming. The important thing is to never sell yourself short.
Donít look at the whole thing all at once. Just take it one small piece at a time. How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time. Itís really not too important whether you think you can or canít do something right now. What is important is that you take steps every day that move you in the right direction. And after a while, you may suddenly discover that what you thought impossible is now very possible.