I can’t remember the number of times I read or heard interviews with great musicians being asked the question about what advice they would give young music students and they almost always mention answer listening. Becoming a great musician begins with listening to music. If you or your child are not inspired to pick up the guitar everyday you are probably not listening to enough inspiring music.
Our subconscious responds to stimuli
I recently came across a TV show based on the latest research on the eating habits of children. There were various research topics but one that stood out was the one about children eating more food when they watched TV compared to no TV while seated at the dining room table. Over eating and TV is not just exclusive to children of course. I also came across an article in the U.K. Guardian entitled ‘Children gain weight as they watch TV‘. In fact overeating is a huge problem with obesity levels at an all time high and it seems our old friend the TV could be partly to blame. I know I have found myself at times snacking in front of the TV even though I recently ate an adequate sized dinner. At first I never really made the connection between food and TV but it becomes quite apparent when you start noticing the number of fast food commercials on TV. For children in the afternoon it tends to be sweets and snacks. These commercials work on your subconscious mind by filling it with images of food. When food is constantly being thrown up in front of you it doesn’t take long before your brain responds and the cravings begin. While it may be a little disturbing to realise your brain is being cleverly manipulated into ringing for a pizza or heading down to the drive thru there is an upside.
The upside of brain manipulation.
Our brains can also be cleverly manipulated into getting us to do positive activities such as practicing guitar. There is (for most people anyway) certain songs that will inspire one to pick up a guitar whether on a conscious level or a subconscious level. What was it about the song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ that drove so many people to want to learn guitar. There were a thousand similar guitar pieces with beautiful finger picking patterns yet for some reason they did not have the same impact on the masses. ‘Smoke on the water’ is yet another example. Even people who have never touched a guitar are inspired to play when they hear this classic riff. These songs are popular examples of inspiration at work but what inspires you will depend on personal taste.
When I listen I only listen
I know from my own childhood listening to music was a daily part of life. For myself music could never be just in the back ground. In fact I find music played for the sake of a little ambiance is either annoying or distracting. In my 20s I had great trouble going to clubs or parties where music was playing and everyone was chatting (shouting) over the top. When music is playing I am listening. As a child I would literally lay down on the ground close my eyes and get lost in the amazing journey the music would take me on. I am surprised I am not deaf actually because my ears certainly got a serious workout and still do. I was fortunate because my father had no interest in TV but loved music. Spending time with my father meant listening to music. TV was never an option. My love and passion for music was born out of the huge amount of listening I did especially as a child. I can recall as a young child opting to sit in the car and listen to tapes of Paul McCartney or David Bowie or Ian Hunter rather then sit inside and watch TV. The car also allowed me to play it loud of course without the sound of another family member telling me to turn it down. These were the days before portable music players.
Music is pure inspiration
Listening to music is largely absorbed by your subconscious. Music in movies is often what makes you cry, your heart race or makes you fearful or anxious. Music is so powerful on the subconscious that political leaders have used it to persuade their followers and to excite the masses. Music is one of the greatest motivators of all so make sure you not only spend time listening but seeking the music that inspires you to practice guitar.
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