By: Konner Scott
If you’re like me, you often try to do too much. Whether it be music, writing, or work, it’s tempting to listen to the voice in your brain that says “more is better”.
I’ve found that this is not necessarily the case. In music in particular, the vast majority of the time, less is more.
I had a guitar mentor of sorts around the time I was 22 years old. To this day, he may be the single best guitarist I’ve ever met in person. He was showing me some tricks to use in my guitar solos, and then he had me practice those tricks over a backing track. In an effort to impress him, I tried to string notes together as quickly I could manage. He stopped me about 30 seconds in with a disapproving look.
He had me start again, but this time, the rules were adjusted: I could only play two different notes (I think he gave me E and G). This was way more of a challenge. I had to find ways to bring those two notes to life. I realized how much the extra notes I played were a crutch, and now my musicality was exposed. I learned that day that the mark of a truly talented musician is one who can extract beauty and feeling from a single note, not necessarily one who can string together thirteen thousand notes at light speed (although, don’t get me wrong- that takes talent too).
Since then, I’ve spent my life fighting the impulse to do more. Brevity is not something that comes naturally to me, so it takes active focus to keep things short (like this blog post, for example).
Stuck in a rut? Try playing fewer notes and see what happens.