The Power of Process by Doug Marks
What is this?
Is Metal Method offering cooking classes? Sort of. More on that shortly. In this article I’ll explain: how to inflate a tubeless wheelbarrow tire; make perfect pancakes; and fry fluffy breakfast potatoes. Welcome to one of my strangest newsletters ever.
We know what’s good for you
We send out a lot of newsletters. Many have very little to do with either news or letters. They’re advertising. Other articles are informative. We offer an assortment of free lessons and try to educate and motivate. Sometimes we have a unique perspective that can help you break through current barriers. We all experience times when our guitar playing reaches a plateau and find it difficult to break through to the next level. I’m here today to give you a nudge off of that plateau hoping that it might inspire you to move forward. Bare with me because it may be difficult to figure out where I’m headed until you get there. That’s what makes a good process exciting.
It’s the process stupid
My Complete Rock Guitar Course is a process. While other instructors produce a variety of lessons, I have primarily stuck to a single program. It could have been called, Everything I know about playing guitar, instead I chose a less catchy title, The Complete Rock Guitar Course. My course revisions deconstruct the previous version and reassemble it to create a more effective program. That’s what makes my course a process. Since 1982 it’s been ever changing. For example, a few years ago, I introduced Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar. It was a new concept to increase playing speed. Like all concepts, it came from things recently learned along with new ideas and procedures. As I revised The Complete Rock Guitar Course in 2016, I integrated (and improved upon) both Speed and Accuracy. It became part of my original program’s process.
Pancakes and more
About now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with the two photos at the top of this page? I’ll get to that shortly. Be patient. I promise, it’s worth the wait.
The Power of Process
My course is a process that has continued to be tweaked year after year, for thirty-seven years, in response to student questions, criticisms, and comments. Plus, there were many changes in technology that began with audio cassettes and currently includes digital downloads along with DVDs.
When I first recorded the course in 1982, I didn’t have access to the internet. In 1995, the knowledge shared on the internet became the single biggest game changer in Metal Method’s history. Can you imagine how much we all learn every year from Googling stuff? I’m no exception and that’s reflected in recent revisions of the course.
Quick Fix for your Wheelbarrow
No matter how obscure the question, Google has the answer. Speaking of an obscure question, I recently noticed that the tubeless tire on my wheelbarrow had collapsed (that’s right, I do a little gardening around here). I couldn’t keep it inflated because there was a gap between the wheel and tire caused by the loss of air pressure. I thought, “Bet someone has the answer on Google.” Sure enough, tie a rope around the circumference of the tire, insert a stick between the rope and tire. Twist the stick to cause the center of the tire to collapse which makes the tire seal against the wheel. Filled it up to 30 psi and voila, repair accomplished.
Unidentified object and blueberry pancakes
This brings me to the lovely pictures at the top of this article and to the concept that I’m trying to communicate – process. Everything is a process. We love the process of making lasagna in the microwave and eating it 7 minutes later. Although you really should include cooling down as part of the process. Otherwise that delicious lasagna will remove the skin from the roof of your mouth and extend the process for a full week. That process is convenient but the results fall short of a chef making lasagna daily. Over time the chef makes small, incremental changes that to create a superior dish.
I’m talking about cooking here, obviously, but this same process applies to all aspects of your guitar playing. Daily, incremental changes turn a beginner into Eddie Van Halen.
This is the point
I dream up new processes every day that have absolutely nothing to do with guitar. While creating these processes I always think, “I wish that I could convey this to my students.” This is a perfect analogy for why my course is so successful. As part of these processes I’ve experienced more failure than success, but this failure occurs because I’m constantly trying to improve the process. I like to think of this as moving the ball forward.
A tip for the world’s best blueberry pancakes
Which brings me to my final point. When I’m not making my egg breakfast, I’ll usually make blueberry pancakes. This morning I decided to try something different. You can’t improve the process without change. Most changes will fail but without trying, you’ll stop moving forward, hence – process and eventually progress.
Normally, I pour the batter onto my preheated griddle then carefully add a few blueberries to the top of the cake. This will be the bottom of the cake once flipped. Problem is, once flipped the blueberries will be almost completely hidden (see top right photo). You end up with a tidy looking cake but it doesn’t look like a blueberry pancake. It’s easy to make pretty blueberry pancakes with fresh blueberries. I use frozen fruit with plenty of juice. I tried to add the blueberries along with the juice directly to the batter. That makes for some very blue, blueberry pancakes that break into pieces. The results can be seen in the top left photo. Delicious, yes. But when you serve a pancake to friends or family it’s best that they don’t ask, “What is it?”
To prove that I really can make a beautiful pancake I made one more cake using my original recipe. This is pictured on the right at the top of this page. Yummy.
So, when I created the hideous blueberry pancake this morning I thought, “Some of my students will begin to understand me if I explain this mess to them.” Plus, the photo looked so hilarious I had to share it somewhere. Others, correctly so, will have identified me as insane. I pity my poor wife. She has to listen to me about these processes and/or some other crazy insight every morning.
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