Friday, November 16, 2007

Learn to Play the Guitar: How to Keep it Fresh

Since beginning the guitar, I have seen many people start with enthusiasm only to get frustrated and quit. As long as you do not expect to play like Eddie Van Halen within a week, there is no reason for your orderly rise to guitar fun to dissolve into a disorderly retreat. Your first task is to avoid viewing the guitar gods as…well, gods (and conversely yourself as a mere mortal not worthy to try) and make sure you are approaching the process in a way that keeps it fun.

I used to operate under the assumption that the guitar gods sprung from the womb, picked up their axe and started shredding right there in the delivery room. As you get into this hobby and begin researching the careers of the guitar greats, you find the reality is much different.

Charles R. Cross, author of “Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix” outlines how years of work followed by years paying his dues on the Chitlin’ circuit made Jimi an “overnight” sensation in London. The reality is more impressive than myth and more motivating for us baby boomers picking up the guitar. All guitarists, no matter how great, had to work at it and keep working at it through their careers. If it were not the case, why do the greats (whoever they are) do extensive rehearsal before going on tour? None of it comes overnight.

Sure, the chance that you will play as well as Jimi or Eddie is remote at best. However, as you progress, you reach a point where that does not matter anymore. Instead, you focus on what you are doing and in developing your own style while still recognizing what the superstars have achieved in their careers. The tough part for many is reaching that point before getting frustrated.

Rather than talk about discipline and sticking with it whether you feel like it or not (this is a hobby and it is supposed to be fun after all) in my next posts I will address what helped me reach the inflection point and what keeps the hobby fresh for me.