Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them that I’m self-taught (as in not having a teacher). I did watch some videos, read some books and practiced a whole lot so it wasn’t that I figured out the essence of guitar playing by meditating in the woods. Besides that, it was the ‘rivalry’ between me and my brothers that really boosted my playing.

Back in those days *looks far away*, my brothers and I all played guitars. I was easily influenced being the youngest back home. One day my big brother said sweep picking is the hardest technique and if one gets sweep picking down, he/she is good. I wanted to be good so I practiced sweep picking like a mad boy and eventually became quite ok with it.

Those years we pissed each other off all the time picking on all the things in our playing. ‘Hey you should sustain that note longer noob.’ ‘Your alternate picking is not clean at all.’ ‘You’re ruining that riff come let me show you.’ I wasn’t discouraged. In fact everytime I was criticized I would practice harder so I could show them my improvement.

Not sure if it’s in my family alone, I don’t see this happening outside. Everyone is encouraging each other, being kind to each other, oh well even I’m one of them being a good person here. Oh here’s another story, when I was working in my previous job, my ex-colleague said he looked at me as a target. He wanted to surpass me or at least, be on-par with me. I laughed at him. He couldn’t quite play the guitar back then. He would ask me music related questions and since it was free, I always looked for chance to dumpster him. ‘You can’t even hear the chord progression in numbers in this song?? Go listen more and transcribe them and don’t talk to me until you do so!’ I think this was one of the things among others that I told him until I left. Fast forward to today and he has a Grade 8 in classical guitar and is now teaching. I was really surprised. Not sure if I played any part in his upcoming but I am happy for him. He really worked hard and didn’t give up despite all the negativity from me.

I think it’s not just in guitar or music, it’s the same in everything else. I ‘returned’ to playing Dota 2 last year after a 3 year hiatus and I played so bad even I was shocked. My friends gave me quite a bad time but, once again, I didn’t quit and the more I play, the more I’m getting better and better. They notice it too. J IS BACK. But obviously I don’t play Dota 2 for a living so…

Have a rival or two, or more. Close friends or siblings that you can insult all day would be best. Pick every little bad thing in each other’s playing and always be prepared to be picked on too! Be picked on and work on it. I can’t do this much these days because you know, I have to be ‘professional’. Hope you find or have found your rival(s) and keep on improving!


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