The Rocksmith 60 Day Challenge

I was the quitting smoker of the guitar world. I had tried time and time again to learn the guitar. Try as I might, I was not been able to tame the elusive lute. Constantly picking up the habit then quitting when I wasn’t making the progress I expected.

A Guitar Player by Daehyun Park

I thought The Greats learned through some mystical power of osmosis. That I would come upon an Arthurian axe, pull it from its resting place and be able to jam like the guitar gods. This is how it worked right? Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way.

The next idea for success was to fully immerse myself in guitar theory. I learned all the finer points of the instrument and tried to demystify the art form. I learned about chords, power chords, and progressions. I learned all the fancy Latin terms (I assume). Words like legato, tremolo, arpeggio, and vibrato. In my youthful exuberance I forgot to simply pick up the guitar, pick, fret, and strum the instrument. This method was akin to a student of fine art learning everything about art history, oil paints, water colors, form, composition, and color pallets without picking up the damned brush or pencil and putting it to canvas or paper.

I quickly came to the realization there is no “get rich quick scheme” to guitar playing. There were no shortcuts, no Excalibur, no gift from the hand of Apollo. But, I made a breakthrough when dedicating myself to the craft, I discovered a system.

There was a cheat code. I used it to crack the art of the instrument. The cheat code had less to do with shortcuts and more to do with tricking myself into thinking I was playing a game rather than learning an instrument. The cheat code helped me familiarize myself with the instrument, play the instrument, and progress my skills.

Enter the Rocksmith 2014 & The 60 Day Challenge

From the Rocksmith website:

“Countless people gave up on their dreams of learning to play guitar because their experience was too frustrating and too time consuming. Now with advances in technology, there is a better, faster way to learn guitar. With the Rocksmith method…”

The rules of the challenge are simple:

1. Buy Rocksmith for your favorite console; PC, Mac, Xbox 360, or Playstation3
2. Sign-up on UbiSoft’s website for the 60 Day Challenge.
3. Play for 1 hour every day for 60 days
4. Become a rock legend (see 10,000 hour rule)

Before I started the challenge, I looked upon my dilapidated guitar. It was a cheaply made Stratocaster replica that I bought in high school. The guitar was doing me no favors, it’s action was set way too high and sometimes the notes didn’t pick-up on the game. I needed a new guitar, but I didn’t feel like a new guitar would be the panacea to my playing problems. I raised the stakes. I told myself, if I can make it thru the challenge, dedicating myself to 1 hour a day, I can justify buying a new guitar.

After familiarizing myself with the gameplay, I signed up for the 60 day challenge. Everyday and sometimes nights, to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I plugged in the game and played.

The first week of the challenge was tough, I couldn’t hit the notes right, I couldn’t make the chord shapes right, I was struggling. But, due to the nature of the challenge I was able to make adjustments, improve my technique and eventually became better at playing. I followed structured lessons for different guitar techniques, played old-timey guitar arcade games, and learned along with songs on the screen. “Hey, this doesn’t feel like work.”I was able to do things on the guitar that I had tried in the past, and failed, like barre chords. “Finally, progress!”

Now, Hendrix I’ll never be. I have not mastered the instrument. Hell, I can’t even complete a song on the game. But, the challenge has taught me dedication, persistence, and progression.

The game can only teach you so much. I feel everyone can get to a certain level themselves, then they need a coach. I enrolled in guitar lessons with a local instructor. I graduated from my 60 challenge and looking at my shiny new Les Paul.

What skill or talent do you keep coming back to? How do you plan to achieve it?

Author: Jeff

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