“MY BRAIN HURTS!!!” – Mr. Gumby, from Monty Python’s Flying Circus
This blog post has nothing to do with how trees grow. Rather, it’s about how woodworkers grow in their skill set and experience.
Anyone who has followed my blog may have noticed that I tend to draw a lot of parallels between music practice/performance and woodworking. Since I engage in both, they are dear to my heart.
Not too long ago, I encountered an interesting concept expounded on by a successful guitar performer and teacher named Jamie Andreas:
VERTICAL GROWTH vs. HORIZONTAL GROWTH
In a nutshell, Vertical Growth is defined by Ms. Andreas as the discipline of constantly striving to learn, practice, and master new skills and techniques, thereby always progressing steadily in an upward direction.
Horizontal Growth, by contrast, is characterized by someone who reaches a particular skill level, then becomes satisfied or complacent at that point. They expend all of their energies in stabilizing at that level, by practicing repetition, at the expense of any significant increase in upward progress.
Ms. Andreas points out that both types of growth are practiced, however, it is the vertical component that drives the student to constantly take his or her guitar playing and musicianship to new levels.
Here is the link to Ms. Andreas’ article that inspired this post:
I believe these concepts apply equally to woodworking. And any other human endeavor, for that matter.
As an example, if I were to remain content with building all of my projects using glue-and-screw butt joints, never bothering to learn how to cut dovetails, mortises, tenons, and miters, I don’t believe I could ever aspire to the level of craftsmanship required for producing fine furniture. I would instead become a ‘master’ of glue-and-screw butt joints. Great if I want to limit myself to utility shelves and shop furniture.
Or, if I remain happy with slapping polyurethane on every project and calling it good, and never learning how to apply a proper hand rubbed oil or shellac finish, or learn French polishing techniques, I would remain a polyurethane ‘master’.
Vertical versus Horizontal Growth.
So, with all the re-thinking that has been going on as of late in the handsawgeek workshop, the Vertical Growth concept seems to be ideal to apply to the new 2015 way of doing things.
Therefore, each of the woodworking projects selected for this year’s list are ones that will require me to learn one or more woodworking techniques that I’ve yet to attempt.
I look forward to the results.
I really do need to stop thinking so much. Makes my brain hurt!
Of course, sawdustike has to demonstrate his own take on vertical growth!