When I was a teen learning to play drums and guitar I saw students as either naturals or un-naturals. The naturals were those who seemed to be able to learn their instrument with ease and apparent joy whereas the un-naturals were those of us who lacked this natural ability and spent much of the time asking the question “Why me?” It felt rather unfair especially when you would practice much harder yet for the naturals they seemed to just pick everything up with little or no practice.
As the years went by I realised that those with natural ability did indeed exist and that this phenomenon exists in almost every area of life but when scrutinised natural ability is not really a defining factor for long-term success. In fact most of the people who I recall at the time as naturals gave up playing music altogether. This struck me as bizarre because at the time I would have given anything to be in their shoes. I recall one friend in particular who was younger than I who was also learning with the same teacher and he was amazing. I couldn’t believe that a kid of 12 years of age was able to play sophisticated jazz and rock while I at 17 years of age was still struggling with the fundamentals. I found out a year later that he had given up the guitar completely to focus on surfing.
As the years rolled by I came to see that it was one’s love and passion for learning music and the guitar that ultimately made the difference. No matter where you are now and how much talent you believe you do or don’t have your ultimate success will be based on your love affair with the guitar more so than anything else. I’ve heard thousands of stories in all endeavours from sports people to Hollywood actors to politicians to great artists and the one thing that seems to define more than 90% of them is their passion for their chosen field. In the majority of these cases there was no apparent natural talent.
The point to this blog is to encourage you to follow your passion, work hard and have fun. Learning guitar of course is not going to be fun all the time. In fact your passion should drive you to do things that you need to do regardless of whether you enjoy them or not. The best comparison I can make is physical fitness. If you are unfit going for a jog everyday will probably be painful at first but the result is you will feel better the rest of the time. Practicing guitar especially the boring elements will result in you being a confident guitarist when it comes time to perform. So if in doubt about your talent for guitar try rephrasing the question to “Do I have the passion for guitar?”
David Hart – Program Director
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