Mind the gap…………

I read this short excerpt from Ira Glass, about learning, on a classical guitar site.

Worth a look.

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I would find that approach terribly depressing and unmotivating :slightly_frowning_face:
I believe I have exquisite taste (far more refined than most, @sairfingers :rofl:)
If my enjoyment of playing guitar or attempting to be creative was dependent on other people’s abilities (defined by ‘the gap’), I might as well never have started.
The only comparison that might be valid is to yourself (am I getting better/worse?) and I’m not even sure if that’s that helpful.
‘Gap thinking’ means you will never be satisfied.
Just enjoy the now :smiley:

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Interesting. The concept resonates with me and certainly reflects my early years of trying learn to play only to give up because it sucked. Time and time again until I came here.
I knew what I should be sounding like but rarely got close. And as I know explore other avenues of playing I see this “gap” getting wider again. But now and then it closes a little and I am happy with a recording. I am never ecstatic and doubt I’ll ever be but I’ll settle on content one day. Then I’ll start learning something new and the cycle will start again.

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@brianlarsen, I don’t see it as about trying to play like others. It is just how we see our playing in our minds eye. Which is how we would like to be able to play.

The conundrum being that we can’t play it like that unless we go through the process of learning, during which it decidedly does not sound like that.

Yes, that can be discouraging. So how do we persist so we can bring our playing closer to our inner expectation?

That is the gap, to me. The space between where we are and where we would like to be.

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I’m afraid this gap concept goes over my head. The article is a classic case of overthinking and over analysing something.

When I started learning guitar the gap was narrow. Start to learn a chord and practise it. Narrow gap. Learn a few chords and learn a song or two. Narrow gap.

However, the more I learn about guitar, playing, singing, recording :woozy_face:, looking at the plethora of gear out there and how it works, being aware of the capability of others, realising how little I know about music theory, the gap between where I am and where I wish I was gets wider. In fact it’s not a gap, it’s a chasm! As with most things in life, the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn.

Do I care? No. If I was to worry about all the things I don’t know/can’t do, I’d give up now. So long as I feel I’m improving, always learning, that’ll do me. The gap will always be there but it will be an ever changing gap.

Now, as for taste @brianlarsen. I too feel I have exquisite taste. It’s just often different from yours. :joy:
(although we’ll need to find some common ground if we’re ever going to get our Borders tour off the ground :smiley:).


They’re just different ways of looking at the learning process.
Many people find target/goals very useful. But there is also an inherent sense of ‘inadequacy’ built into that concept. If you don’t reach it, there’s sense of failure. If you do achieve it, well you are going to have to shift the goalposts; and so the cycle continues.
I prefer to focus on simply enjoying the playing/practicing/learning process in the ‘now’, without any preconceptions of where I would like to end up. I know I improve the more I play (so don’t worry about it), but I really don’t think I enjoy the guitar any more now than when I was learning my first chords. I doubt I will enjoy it more if I ever learn to shred a sick solo.
Sooner or later every one of us here will lose the ability to be able to play what we can now. The goal-oriented or ‘gap’ approach will have nothing to offer us then :slightly_frowning_face:
I hope to still be happily thumb-strumming ridiculous ditties in slo-mo into the sunset, with a big smile on my face :smiley:
I played a lot of volleyball when I was in college. I once had a conversation with an American student on our team who had just come back from a tournament in Holland. He told me he was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite cultural differences, we were all the same and “We’re all just trying to become better people”.
I walked off, puzzling whether there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t… :thinking:


This whole concept is rooted in how classical music is taught. You need to learn specific pieces of music and then pass a test to the standard set by the program. There is no room for creativity or individuality in your playing. This is why most classical musicians look down their noise at self taught or musician who learn from people like Justin. They put in Tens of thousands of hours to sound like everybody else. Where as self taught musicians explore music and are allowed to put in their personality.
Just my 2c



Several of you are interpreting this very differently than I am.

The original idea was written by Ira Glass and is about writing, not Classical music. The classical music teacher whose site I found it on thought it applied to learning anything in general. Which is how I see it, as well.

There is where I would like to be playing and where I am playing. I have to go through where I am to get where I want to be and the better I get the place I want to be becomes more advanced as well.

The point is that I should understand this is a truth and not let it discourage me. Nobody gets good without working at it, so enjoy the working at it and enjoy closing the gap bit by bit.

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How true!

ooooo…no this is too easy,…I’m not doing it… :innocent:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Sorry late to the party.

Is the gap how you describe my memory mid bar 3?