Sunday, March 30, 2008

The enjoyment inherent

It's a goal of mine to be able to twirl my elec. guitar over my shoulder, back across my hip and into my hands, jumping right back into the midst of some complex solo in a metal song on stage. But I find it a bit hard to focus or look forward to practicing...........perhaps because I keep wishing I could skip it.

After I bought my guitar years ago, I've gone through two teachers. The first was some guy I met in Guitar Center while perusing for my own axe. I started to taking lessons from him, but he stopped picking up my calls when he realized I wasn't practicing at home (due to being overwhelmed with schoolwork). It was ok though, I was going to stop calling anyway. His breath and teeth were horrendous from the daily consumption of black coffee, which I assume he did without brushing his teeth just as much. The second was some guy I knew from Junior High School who taught lessons at the same price. Everything was ok for a little while, but that also went downhill for the same reasons. The schoolwork I mean, not his breath setting my nostrils on blue fire.

A book the second teacher told me to buy, a Mel Bay text called "Mastering the Guitar", had exercises, notes, chords, scales, musical concepts and two play-along C.D.s. It seemed pretty self-explanatory, which lead me to just teaching myself to play and saving the 30$ a week for something else.

Practice took time: the book would give me a bunch of notes to play at a certain beat measure, and I'd have to set the metronome (little machine that ticks rhythmically) at a slow pace and play it couple of times. While doing this, I started to imagine an Incubus or a Finch song and wish I could play it right now. Thus, the comparison between what I want to play and what I could play would come, and I'd lose the patience it took to actually build those skills. Every morning, I'd be frustrated that I couldn't play "Pardon Me" or "What It Is (To Burn)", and eventually I'd stop practicing.

But something has occurred to me (although I must admit it's a bit silly). Back when I attended a Korean Christian church every Friday and Sunday and was attending Community College on the weekdays, there was a video arcade near both locations that I would go to, in addition to playing Playstation at home. I attended these things in a piece of every chunk of free time I had, for I was a very devoted Street Fighter player.

I mean, when I was younger, my mother gave me money to take the bus to summer camp, which was across town. I'd leave the house, walk to camp instead, go into a pizza shop and trade my bus fare for money (it was worth $2 but they only gave me $1.50), and use it to play the Street Fighter arcade they had in the back of the store. Everyday.

I played the game for years, although nowhere near as much today (I do look forward to Street Fighter 4, though). And although getting better was a goal in the back of my head, I didn't play the game for that. I played the game because I enjoyed it, and overtime skills began to develop by themselves.

So, although playing Street Fighter and the guitar are two different things, I think the principle can still apply to both. Perhaps I would gain the patience to practice if I just enjoyed practicing instead of dreaming about being Santana all the time.


  1. Don't Feed The PixiesApril 2, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    The thing is to not expect too much too soon - Eric Clapton allegedly learned to play from the legendary Burt Whedon "One Chord A Day" book.

    I play guitar, but will never be the next Hendrix because to me practicing 8 hours a day would turn something fun into a chore - so i know exactly where you're coming from here.

    As such i am content to be rubbish, but have fun playing.

    There are cheats - like the blues scale. Three chords and this scale and you sound far more proficient than you actually are. It just depends on what you are aiming for

  2. The Disturbed OneApril 2, 2008 at 1:59 PM

    Its true.

    Once it becomes a "job" so to speak... it loses all the fun factor.

    Eddie said so about his art (he sketches ALL the time) and I kind of feel the same about photography, though I would LOVE to learn how to do the darkroom thing.

    I remember seeing the guitar sitting out when I came to visit. I didnt want to touch it and possibly annoy you because I didnt know what I was doing. lol And now I come to find, you dont know too much about it yourself!

    I think you should try to keep it up. Unlesss you dont want to be a jack of all trades ;)

  3. The key is to let it become a part of you, a little piece of who you are. Then it is no longer a chore but a
    way in which to express yourself.

    But I guess that's how it is with all art forms...


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