Learning to play the guitar was an attempt to go beyond merely listening to music to overcome stress. Almost a year into the journey, I can proudly say that I have come a long way. Apart from the musical bliss, however, learning to play the guitar has taught me a few 'Lessons of Life'.
Lessons learnt from learning to play the Guitar:-
- No Pain, No Gain: Bruised and blistered finger-tips can deter many beginners early on. But it is important to carry on. Eventually, the calluses formed on the fingertips through repeated friction help desensitise guitarists from the pain, and the guitar-playing only gets better. In life as well, perseverance pays off in the long run.
- Fear Hinders Progress: Early on, I purchased a Capo thinking it would help me avoid barre chords. I even came up with a phrase of my own 'When Life Gives You Barre Chords, Put A Capo On It'. However, I eventually realised that avoiding barre chords led to heavy restrictions on my learning. After mastering the basic open chords, I realised I couldn't play beyond a few simple songs only because I did not know have to play barre chords. When I realised how much of an obstacle it had become, I finally decided to let go of my fear and ditch the Capo. Although it was painful and extremely frustrating in the beginning, it opened up a whole new world for me in my journey as a guitarist. In life as well, one must learn to let go of fear and take a leap of faith. You might end up failing, but at least you moved.
- It's okay to ask for help: Although I did not take help from a personal guitar coach, I did not hesitate to look up tutorial videos on YouTube or even consult friends for help with strumming patterns and chord progressions. Seeking help does not amount to self-doubt and does not mean admitting that you are weak; it simply means you want to improve.
- It is never too late to learn: Most of the world-renowned guitarists started off pretty early, with an average age of 15 being the latest (Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton apparently started out at age 21). Although I'm nowhere in the A-league of guitarists, I'm not the only one to have decided to learn to play the guitar after crossing the age of 30. It is never too late to start learning; learning can start at any time and can go on till a person's final breath.
- Understanding 'why' can make life easier: There is logic and science behind the sounds a guitar makes - string combinations, string tension, muting effect, et al. Likewise, people and things behave in a certain manner for a plethora of underlying reasons. Understand this helps us gain wonderful perspectives and insights about people and about life at large.
- Innate talent can be an advantage: Like many others, I was fortunate to have an innate ear for music. I realised I had the advantage of identifying right notes from flawed ones, and this held me in good stead. There is nothing to be guilty about using your innate talent to your advantage. In fact, not putting your talents to good use is foolish.
- Talent without hard work does not guarantee success: You might be a naturally gifted musician at heart, endowed with all the flair and brilliance that the best guitarists possess. But if you do not work hard at sharpening your skills, you will not progress beyond a certain level.
- Passion can be a form of escapism: Often, the love for playing guitar can transcend the passion for music; it could reflect escapism or a filler to a void in a person's life, or perhaps something to boost a person's sagging self-image. It is okay to pursue something passionately to fill a void, but one must be careful to be able to draw the limits so as to not let his/her alternate life take control of conventional life.
- Perfect string + Bad Tuning = Noise: A perfect guitar string that is tuned badly can ruin a musical performance, even though the string is not inherently flawed. Likewise, most people are inherently nice, but could come across as repulsive simply because of behaviour spawned by bad experiences.
- It is hard to hold onto a habit that you don't enjoy: It is not unusual to hear about people who initially take to the guitar with full enthusiasm, but eventually the interest fizzes out. The same can be said about gymming, and about hobbies. If you decide to pursue something that you do not enjoy, and that you are not really passionate about, you are bound to end it sooner or later.