At the beginning of July, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Mayan Riviera, and be completely spoiled in the heart of beautiful Mexico.
When I returned, I found myself spending much time…sitting…and…thinking. Over and over again. More sitting. More thinking. I thought until I was sure that I would never stop thinking. Hell, I almost thought in my pants once or twice. By the end of it, I was completely wiped. And 15lbs lighter.
But all of this time to myself made me realize that I had a lot to experience. If my body was reacting so strongly to cultural exposure, how was it affecting my mind — and by extension what would that do to my guitar playing?
We’ve all experienced it before; when we get into a routine with our playing and things plateau. We find ourselves playing the same songs, the same chords, and practicing the same way. Usually, the thing that breaks us out of that zone is the introduction of a new stimulus, most often in the form of another player.
When we jam with other players, we can learn new chords and songs, but one of the best things that we learn is appreciation of new styles. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of playing with blues players, punks, shredders, folkies, country pickers and classical guitarists. Each one brought something different to the party.
I remember one of the best metal soloists that I’ve ever played with, cut his teeth with a bluegrass band. Thinking back, I could totally hear it in his playing. Here’s a guy who was a virtual shredding monster whom I looked up to, yet he could play country – the music that I was too good to listen to, let alone play.
So maybe now it’s time for me to change my attitude when it comes to music. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge certain styles of music as ‘bad’ just because I don’t appreciate them. Maybe if I learned to play those styles, I could step outside my own ‘audio culture’ for once and view music for what it is – a gift from the person playing it. Plus, this means that I could bring my own brand of musical mediocrity to new genres! I could offend a whole new audience! I‘m in!
So now my homework has begun. I started by buying a ukelele – something that will allow me to play music like Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. (Go ahead…YouTube it..I’ll be here when you get back.)
Now we don’t have to get a new instrument to play a new style (but it IS a great excuse!). It’s just as easy to step outside your comfort zone (getting naked with your playing, as Ashton would say in her column) and play a genre that you’re not used to.
If you’re a rocker, try some Keith Urban. If you’re a folkie, try some Bruno Mars. If you like music at all, play some Jason Mraz – he’s just always good for the soul.
Sometimes you’ll learn new chords. Most often, you’ll learn new time signatures and strumming styles. If nothing, you’ll break out of the routine and give your playing an enema.
Trust me, you know that I’m no longer full of shit.
To find out more about Steve, click HERE