Getting Things in Hand
I'm not a believer in "Play until your fingers bleed!" In fact, unless you're onstage and it occurs from an especially robust session, it's pointless. When I was younger and first learning guitar, my grandmother, who was a musician and knew about these things. told me to soak my fingertips in vinegar before and after playing. It really worked, and I developed a healthy, durable set of calluses that can still be called on after 50 years. These days I'm giving Eric Clapton's advice a try by soaking them in rubbing alcohol instead of vinegar. So far, so good. It in fact seems to work more quickly than vinegar. I also think that the fact that I'm switching between 6-string and 12-string guitar is helpful, because doing so covers the entire fingertip pad; it may be a little more painful, but not as painful as playing a 6-string, exclusively.
Working on getting both my playing and singing chops back into shape is proving to be a real joy. It's just my memory where lyrics are concerned that's the challenge. My hands know what to do (good old muscle memory never fails!) so I don't give that a second thought. Remembering the words of 36 songs, however, is proving to be harder, not to mention that all of my music was lost back in 2001 and I'm having to dredge up my own song lyrics. Most of them have resurfaced, and those that just won't, I'm simply rewriting. What's the harm? Who's to know? They're my songs.
I have five months until my house concert (I've penciled in the date as October 9th), and there's plenty of time to get everything in hand, so to speak, calluses and lyrics, so I'm not worried in the least. Meanwhile, all of this is completely silencing the old stage fright beast, and that was the biggest challenge of all.