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Every month, Justin Sandercoe of justinguitar.com lends GT his insight as one of the world’s most successful guitar teachers. This month: Things I’d tell my teenage self
Things are going to change. That’s the only thing that is certain. People and things will come and go and tastes will change as you grow. Don’t be afraid of it. Respect it. Embrace it if you feel you should, but trust your gut; sometimes it’s better to rebel.
Your taste will change; music you love now might bore you in years to come. How I laughed as a longhaired metal head kid when my teacher told me that I would grow to love jazz. Don’t be afraid of being wrong.
Try and be in the company of people much better than you so you can learn from them. You’ll often find the highest concentration of them in big cities where you have to be strong and focused to survive; so if you’re in a small town, it would be worth spending time in a big city to absorb its energy and meet people. You don’t have to stay forever because big city energy stays in you long after you leave it.
Try to find and be yourself, and no matter who you become, strive to be the best self you can be. Be honest with yourself and other people and you will have nothing to hide and will always be able to look people in the eye.
Practise with diligence, there’s no substitute for it. If you want to be good at something you owe it to yourself to work on it. Many times you’ll find yourself alone in a room repeating the same thing over and over – try to stay in the moment and appreciate it no matter how repetitive it becomes, but strive to make practice as much fun as you can so that doesn’t become a chore.
Always ask why. Before you start doing anything, be sure to understand the goal and how this thing will help you get there. Don’t trust anyone except yourself – ask advice from people you trust but test things yourself as best you can and be sure that the logic holds true before commiting.
Your ears are for listening, not your eyes, so don’t let appearances sway your judgment of music (or people!). Unless you’re buying a guitar of course – that is the vehicle you will use to express yourself, and you should love everything about it.
‘Better’ is completely subjective: try not to measure it, but feel it. You’ll find it’s different things to different people at different times. Sometimes you’ll want to be ‘better’ for others, sometimes ‘better’ for yourself. Sometimes you won’t care and that is okay too.
Remember that taste is personal and you should respect others’ taste as they should respect yours. Be confident in your choices but make them wide and fluid. That we all like different things is one of the most beautiful things about life – if we all liked the same things there would be just one ‘perfect’ guitar, one amp, one style, one band. Some kind of hell?
Time passes much faster than we’d like, and even if it seems like you have all the time in the world, you don’t, so make the most of it. Every minute is precious so try to avoid wasting it on anger, boredom or frustration. Find things that fill you with happiness and spend as much of your life doing them as you can… like playing guitar!
Justin has some sage advice for you this month