I decided it was about darned time I learned to actually play guitar, so I bought me a couple of thumb picks and this swell instructional DVD Essential Exercises for Fingerstyle Guitar Taught by Peter Huttlinger. I reckon if I can manage to practice even a little bit every day, I might just make it to the “advanced beginner” stage before I die…
I’ve been working on it about a week now, and I’m to the point where if I really concentrate I can almost manage the first stage of the first pattern (thumb, fifth string; first finger, third string; thumb, fourth string; second finger, second string;
rinse; repeat…) for, oh, ten or fifteen seconds at a stretch before it falls apart … unless I try to play it too fast, in which case it falls apart immediately. Slow and methodical does the trick. I hope soon to be able to move on to the next stages of this pattern (same strings, same order, but: b) thumb and first finger only; c) thumb and second finger only; and d) thumb and third finger only). After that, who knows? The sky’s the limit, eh?
(The other good thing about this little exercise is that it's bound to build up my callouses again. I know I’m way out of shape, but it's hard to hold a C chord on my guitar for any length of time—much harder than playing a number of different chords, which at least puts different levels of pressure on different finger-tips at different angles and allows brief “recovery” moments while changing chords.)