I hope this blog will be useful to someone other than me.
I'll turn 33 this year. A good age, I guess, but I was hoping to have accomplished more (musically speaking) by this age. I realized this in a fit of new-year-inspired introspection, and it led me to set a goal--win a guitar at a major flatpick competition before I turn 36.
You might be thinking what I halfway think, myself: "What a dumb goal. If you want a guitar so badly, go buy one!" But it's not about the guitar, see? It's about the challenge.
I got out of the navy in 2002, and not long after that I heard Norman Blake for the first time. I had a reaction that I suspect many other flatpickers have. I thought, "Wow, I never suspected anybody could play guitar like that!" and then shortly afterward, "I wonder if I could learn to play like that?"
I'll talk a lot more about my flatpicking journey later; for now I'll say that I did learn to flatpick through lots and lots of (enjoyable) practice. I got good enough that when a picking buddy mentioned flatpicking contests, I succumbed to the notion that I might be ready to compete in one.
I competed in several (they're usually pretty generous about who they'll let compete--anyone who'll pay the entry fee), and realized that I wasn't yet good enough to win in one. Flatpick contests, and the desire to win (or at least place) in one, became a very useful and motivating spur that led me to further improvement in my playing ability. I've been doing flatpick contests, when I can get time off to get to them, for about 6 or 7 years now. (Oh, wow! Has it been that long already?)
I still haven't won one. The closest I came was making the top 5 at the Texas State Flatpick Championship, and that was a few years ago. Yeah, I thought that by now I might have scooped a trophy or a guitar or something, but I haven't. Thus the above resolution.
I plan to talk about my journey to winning some flatpick contests, and share the practice plans and exercises and arrangements and so on that lead me (hopefully) to success. I hope it will be useful to someone besides me!