Alongside Japanese study (and a few other things), my passion is the classical guitar.

Well, maybe I should say it used to be.  The thing is, I haven’t practised at all in about a year now.

I was thinking of how things could get to this sad state in my guitar study while Japanese study has been clipping along merrily for half a year or so with no signs of burning out or slowing down.  (Granted that I was playing guitar for near ten years before I started Japanese.)

I concluded* that it probably has to do with my Japanese study having a defined end goal, whereas guitar study does not.  My goal in Japanese is very clear and not too distant; I wish to be able to read a reasonably advanced text, like a book of history or gardening or architecture or the more literate variety of novel, with no more effort and no slower than I currently read such a text in English.**  I believe I should be able to accomplish this in about two years.  Once this point has been reached, no more study will be required; only maintenance, which will take care of itself with ongoing reading for pleasure or education.

In music study there is no such endpoint.  Much of this has to do with the requirements of performance.  No matter how flawless the performance, there is always room for a fast passage to be smoother, a lyrical passage to be more expressive, or a clearer conception of the composition as a whole.  Needless to say, stopping to look something up is unthinkable.  And then there’s the minor point that one’s repertoire is always one piece too small.  Always.  One’s development also follows a sort of logarithmic scale, where at first great gains are seen quickly, but later on it can take a year to notice significant improvement.  Also, unlike a language mastered to the point of fluency, musical skill suffers notably from even a few days without practise.

So because one road has a signpost off in the distance that I can see, and that is getting noticeably closer by the day, and the other simply goes on and on and on, I got discouraged with the one and focused on the other.

Naturally this has me thinking of how I can apply the lessons learned in language study to music study, but that’s a topic for another post.  I think the main thing to do is to set up such signposts at a visible distance from my current guitar skill, and work towards them.  Then set another.

What you can see, you can reach.

*a conclusion is where you get tired of thinking

**in accordance with the order of the four skills, I am more or less trusting my listening, writing, and speaking to take care of themselves as long as I focus on this reading goal


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