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Guest Article:  Derk Stiepelmann

The Art Of Conscious Ignorance In Your Guitar Practice

In our daily lives we have a ton of things constantly fighting for our attention and our guitar practice is no different. Thousands of YouTube guitar lesson videos, guitar websites, courses and magazines that all scream for our attention. It has never ever been easier to get lost in things to practice than today. So, I highly recommend you to practice the art of conscious ignorance. What does that mean? Simple - we train ourselves to not follow shiny objects and instead focus on the things that we are working on.


Why does the mind always look for the next new thing?

A high level of focus on the same elements can quickly get tedious for our mind and that is the reason it quickly looks for something else that it finds interesting and more stimulating in the moment. Today it´s a video on a classical guitar piece, the next day it´s time for a flamenco technique, then it´s time for a metal riff. This is very exciting for the mind, because each day offers something new, but this jumping around from one thing to another never gets us to master anything and so we end up with a ton of train wrecks, instead of being able to play few things really well.

If we don´t become aware of this mental pattern, we are forced to repeat it again and again and it will keep us stuck in a cycle of frustration forever, leading to more and more confusion, overwhelm and often to quitting guitar altogether.


To end this cycle, here´s what we need to do:


  1. We need to develop an awareness of your own mental patterns. To develop that inner awareness I can highly recommend some type of meditative practice, because it will very effectively train you to become aware of your own repeating mental patterns. I personally start every day with ten minutes of meditation practice and these ten minutes are well worth the time invested. Creating a new level of awareness is step one, because we can´t change what we are not aware of.                                      

  2. Once you have developed your inner awareness to the point that you can start seeing how patterns want to repeat themselves you have reached a turning point, because now that you made the pattern conscious, you have a choice to play it out again or to simply watch it with curiosity and see it for what it is: a pattern that wants to repeat itself. This means that we don´t resist it, push against it, get angry about it or suppress - we are simply watching it with a curious attitude: “Ah, here´s the pattern again. Interesting!”                                                                                                                                 

  3. Make a choice. Do I really want to follow this pattern of following the next shiny object again OR can I simply let this pattern exist in my mind without following it?Every time you choose to not follow it and just observe it, it will lose momentum and become less attractive over time. This is the art of conscious ignorance. You are conscious by recognizing the pattern, but you CHOOSE to ignore and not follow it.


Applying this to your guitar practice will make sure that you don´t get lost in a new shiny object every day and instead focus on the things that really help you to move forward very fast.


About the author: Derk Stiepelmann is founder of Songwriter´s Shed, a guitar school in Dortmund, Germany. If you are searching for guitar lessons in Dortmund, simply click the highlighted text.

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