overcoming average(?)

because it’s something the world just needs less of

it’s not that easy guys

with 5 comments

I don’t know why I agreed to it, but I did. Actually, I take that back. I did it because it’s one of the few ways I know how to show the people around me that underneath the cold-hearted bastard they see before them, I do in fact care about them. So there I was, playing guitar while 60 school-aged children stare up at me and the other two people on stage. Halfway through the first song I begin to wonder if they’re actually enjoying it or just instinctively know to engage with whatever is on a platform in front of them. Either way, it at least looks like they’re having a good time.

The weirdest part for me is that I haven’t played my acoustic guitar in what feels like years. Bass is my instrument, not guitar. I remember that in my high school years I would play acoustic more often because playing bass by yourself (sorry, other bass players) can tend to be rather boring. However, that was several years ago now, and it took two songs into a three song set for me to realize just how out of practice I am. Bottom line: those little strings made my fingers all ouchie.

I couldn’t get the strings to ring out properly because they were digging into my fingers more than I was pressing down on them. Sometimes the only noise being made was the rattling of strings against wood. It was kind of embarrassing. The adults in the room have seen me play bass and know that (if I do say so myself) I’m quite good at it. They even somewhat jokingly refer to me as a rockstar, but here I was fumbling through some songs like I just picked up the thing a week ago. That’s when I thought, “Man, I wish this was easier.”

Wanting to make music easier reminded of one of those musician jokes that get thrown around a lot in band scenarios. Whenever someone hits a wrong note or hits it at a weird time, you’ll often hear them say, “Hold on, let me turn down the ‘suck’ knob.” This joke’s kind of evolved around the web to where I’ve seen a mockup of a guitar effect pedal called the Talent Booster complete with “suck,” “talent,” and “cover up” knobs to adjust levels of each to your playing. Nice joke, but the more I looked at some of the products available to musicians I began to realize that something like that really isn’t too far away. Gibson Guitars already makes a guitar that literally tunes itself, not to mention the ability of using alternate tunings by turning a single knob. Line6 is a digital effects company that briefly made a guitar that could sound like several different guitars in addition to sounding like a mandolin or 12-string guitar. If any of you have ever seen a modern recording session, you know that the drummer doesn’t really have to have perfect or even good timing, the guitars and bass don’t really have to have great tone, and vocalists don’t really need to sing on key.

All these thoughts kind of flew through my mind after finishing my three songs. It was odd, but I almost felt ashamed of myself for wanting the playing to be easier. That’s not how I felt when I started playing music at 14. Back then, I wanted to be awesome at doing this music thing, so I played past the hurting fingertips and occasional hand cramps until it didn’t hurt anymore. Had I lost that drive to be good at this one thing? As soon as that question popped up in my head I remembered who I am. I am a musician. I play music, and I am good at it. Just like any relationship, you can work on it or you can quit. If you do work on it, you’re going to go deeper with it. I’ve learned that every relationship, even those with an inanimate object require work to master.

As of this writing, I’m scheduled to again play guitar for that same event. Throughout this past week I’ve been practicing like I did when I was in high school. I want to sound good if for no one else but myself, because it’s the important things like music, art, love, and relationships that should never be easy.

Written by matt

June 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Posted in rock and/or roll

5 Responses

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  1. I’ve been there, man. Not to sound too full of myself, but I’ve gone the other way, and can breeze through all the songs on a Sunday without even practicing. Now I’m starting to feel like I’ve progressed far enough on the drums, and need another challenge. Like I’m done with them. You are one of the few musicians at Sandals that I respect, what do you think about that point of view?

    The Tom

    June 12, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    • ahh, the dry spell. there’s two ways out of it that i’ve experienced. the first is finding some other musical influence to be inspired by. change genres and find something new. listen to the music that influenced your current influences. even look to other art forms just to feel inspired by anything. the other way is to ask someone you musically and personally trust and respect to utterly rip your playing apart. and i mean destroy it. in my experience, it’s much less fun that second way, but extraordinarily effective


      June 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      • I have done the first, branching out into 60’s Brazilian soul and some really odd stuff, so I’m trying to do that. And all the cats I ask to do the latter are too nice. I always get the “sounded good, just watch the tempo going from verse x into chorus y, and that’s it.”

        the tom

        June 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm

  2. With havin so much content do you ever run into any
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    July 26, 2013 at 11:36 am

    • I actually have no idea. I think the best you could do is send a cease and desist request for them to either take it down, link back to your site and give you writing credit, or threaten further legal action. Whether you’re able to follow through on that last one might not matter if you’re dealing with decent human being.


      July 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

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