Here’s a short video about how I went from being a rocker to playing Spanish style guitar and making my own CDs. Please leave me a comment.
Insights From My Rock To Spanish Guitar Journey
As a perpetual student and teacher I'm always looking for lessons in my life experiences. When writing I ask myself what are some of the insights from my years of playing and learning guitar that would be worth passing on to my students, and I hope you'll find some inspiration and encouragement here to help you on your guitar playing journey.
#1 - Where You Start Out Is Not Necessarily Where You'll End Up
When I started out I had no idea that someday I would be playing Spanish influence style guitar. I just wanted to play rock ‘n roll and join a band! I hadn’t a clue that one day I would travel to Spain and be mesmerized by flamenco dancers, 12 year olds playing incredible guitar on the streets, and the music of the Gipsy Kings playing on the bus.
And that's okay. Life is an adventure.
Now let me tell you why I think this is an important insight when learning guitar.
A lot of students come to lessons just wanting to learn their favorite songs or cool licks, but when keeping in consideration that as the years go by your tastes and interests will change, it is wise to learn guitar in a more holistic way. What I mean is there are clear building blocks in music that apply to many, if not all, styles of music. If you learn those early on you will not have to start over when you find something new and interesting you want to learn… like Spanish guitar.
If you just focus on learning only a few songs you're kinda dead in the water. Not only that, but you'll end up being labeled as a “guitar lick wonder”, one of those guitar players that can only play the cool licks from songs, but can't play the whole song. 🙂
That doesn't mean you have to spend all your time learning technicalities and forgetting about cool licks and songs. You can do both. Just don't ignore things like: basic note reading, a solid practice routine, exercises to improve your dexterity, understanding chord progressions and learning to hear patterns in songs.
#2 - There Are Times You Have To Step Into The Unknown And Have Faith
When I traveled to Spain I was ready for a change. I was feeling stifled musically. It's not that I didn't like the music. I can find enjoyment in all kinds of music, but I was tired of playing other people’s songs. I wasn't expressing the music that was inside me.
In addition I knew I really wasn't in the right place. I could fake the lifestyle of rock ‘n roll, but it really wasn't me. The late nights, smoky bars, and constantly dealing with intoxicated people was wearing on me. I could tell it was damaging my health both physically and mentally. Sure it was fun sometimes, but it wasn't sustainable.
In spite of this I was afraid to make a change. It seemed like all the work I had done to be able play the styles of music that I was playing at that point with bands would be wasted. I was making decent money at the time, and could pretty well count on playing as often as I wanted.
When I took the trip to Spain, not only was I inspired by the music, but it gave me time to think about what was really important. When I returned from my trip I had made a decision to let go of the old and embrace the new. I didn't really know exactly what “new” was, but I was willing to venture into the unknown for a better life. It wasn't easy. I pretty much had to go back into my “cave” to learn a new style and to write my own music. I'm so glad I did.
Looking back I realized the most important decision I made was to be willing to step into the unknown and have faith to make things better. If I had waited just hoping things would get better on their own nothing would have happened, except for my declining health and happiness.
#3 – Most Anything Is Possible With Patience And Persistence
When I began studying flamenco guitar I felt like I was starting over again. Fortunately I had years of classical guitar lessons which helped me, but I had gone from being a competent electric guitar player to being like a beginning student.
Also the change from playing cover songs to playing my own original music was an even bigger change. At first it was very difficult to find people and places to perform with. People are much more accepting of music they already know; not so much with new music. It took patience and persistence to learn to play Spanish guitar, develop new skills, and little by little create my own original music.
Of course as time went on both my guitar playing and my songwriting skills improved, and as I improved I found more people interested in performing with me and a larger audience of fans.It took time but it was worth it. I found myself feeling like I could express the music that was inside of me. I also found myself around more creative, supportive and like-minded people. It began to feel like I was part of a community instead of pretending to be something I wasn't.
#4 - Create A Vision Of What You Want And Go For It
Perhaps the biggest takeaway I can give you from my story is that it's worth it to create a vision of what you want in life and go for it. The process will not only eventually get to you to where you want to go but will change you into a better and stronger person along the way.
Create a vision of what you want in life and go for it.
- Is there something in your life that you could “go for” that would be worth it for you?
- What would it look like? (There’s really no right or wrong answer)
- Did you get some inspiration or encouragement from my story?(Of course everybody is in a different place.)
- What are your takeaways from this?
Tell Us What You Think - Please Comment Below!
We would love to hear your comments and questions. What specific things are you struggling with while learning guitar?