Alexey F, a senior, decided his CAS project to be in the field of music. Alex began playing guitar in middle school, but soon he found it quite tedious as it required much more time and patience than he was willing to give in order to see adequate progress. After almost two years of playing he gave up; it was too hard, and he did not see the point of putting in that much effort into something that he thought was a waste of time. Fast forward to March 2020, as the first lockdown came into effect Alex suddenly found himself having significantly more free time than before. He decided to pick up the guitar that has been collecting dust in the corner of his room for the past three years. Having seen videos of people performing beautiful instrumental interpretations of popular songs, he was most interested in fingerstyle guitar. Fingerstyle guitar is a style of playing that involves plucking individual strings with your fingers rather than a pick while incorporating percussive elements such as kicks and snares with both the right and left hands.
Eager to begin, Alexey started following the song he wanted to learn on YouTube (Alan Walker’s “Faded”) but he soon realized that it was going to take more than the two hours he had allocated to learn the song. Having not touched a guitar for years, his fingers were not used to the thick acoustic strings and his picking hand began cramping. This led Alexey to realize two concepts about practicing: breaks are almost as important as the practice itself and practicing for long periods of time decreases motivation and productivity. With this newfound knowledge he decided to dedicate about 40 minutes every day to practicing the song. As a result, every day he saw some progress, maybe some days more than others, but progress nonetheless.
At the end of the day, it took almost two months for Alexey to learn to play his first song from start to finish, one month to learn his second song and about three weeks for the third. He was starting to see real progress. By constantly challenging himself to learn new and harder songs Alexey was able to remain motivated even when it gets hard. Almost a year later he still plays almost every day and continues to find new techniques that he can incorporate into his playing.