So, what’s that title about then? You may have heard it said of someone “oh, he/she is so talented, a natural musician”. Well I’ve been hobbling along on the guitar for nigh on three decades now, and I still can’t play a recognizable song all the way through. So, clearly I’m not a ‘natural musician’, hence I must be an ‘UNnatural musician’, since I have persevered with varying levels of effort all this time.
See, I’ve been noodling around with the guitar on and off since I was 16, and now with a major milestone birthday looming in a couple of years (and we aren’t talking 21 here my friends); let’s just say I’m no child prodigy. The problem is I’ve never really practiced properly.
You’ll have heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, well if that were true I’d be up there noodling around with the likes of Satriani and Vai; however it is in fact, and pardon my french, crap. The fact is that it is “perfect practice which makes perfect”, a phrase which sounded a bit pretentious to me when I read it (in Versace’s book ‘Welcome to Oz’, which is a truly awesome book on photography btw, sadly out of print now although the new version may be out soon).
The more I think about it though, the more I’m seeing the point. And that point is you need to be disciplined about learning stuff. What you learn needs to be the right stuff, and at the right level of difficulty at the time, for you so that you continue to improve. Practicing is not picking up the guitar for an hour when you feel bored and banging out the same old rubbish over an over again, which is what I have mostly been doing. So over the years I have come to be rather expert at all the things you should not do when learning a musical instrument.
So (and with this sounding dangerously like a NY resolution – something I generally avoid at all costs), I have decided to apply some discipline and actually try to get good in the run up to my 50th (damn, there it is, I said it). The carrot being, that if I succeed, I intend to splash out an obscenely large wad of cash on a reeeally nice guitar for said birthday.
The fun part is, you get to see how well it works out, and if you are in a similar situation (aging tweeneage bedroom rock hero’s of the world unite), you might find something of use for your own situation too.