Hello. I am back after a break where I assisted in running a fabulous writing conference and completed two major work projects. During these events in my life, one thing remained consistent: my effort to learn music.
Through my full immersion into learning bluegrass banjo over the past year, followed by starting down the path to electric and classical guitar, I have learned more about myself as a person than ever before, including the following:
- I have a remarkable work ethic and a dogged desire to keep at something until I get it right, and
- I have a knack for finding the right people to be partners in my learning.
I am sure some people are born with a natural fluency for music, and they quickly find the right strings, keys, percussion points, and breaths of air to produce beautiful noise. I, on the other hand, liken my fingers finding the right strings and frets on my banjo and guitars to drunk giraffes (nice, longish fingers with decent nails) wandering the Serengeti aimlessly, eventually becoming entangled in the chaos. So, I have to work really hard at learning, and I rely heavily on daily practice and various resources to learn. There is an art to learning the art of music, and here are the mediums I use to learn.
I practice, on average, one hour a day. As often as I can, I try to increase this by a half hour to one hour or find moments in the day where I can pick up an instrument and perform one piece of music or an exercise (even scales) quickly between life’s activities. I use a metronome for a portion of all practices, and I touch all three instruments daily. It is my labor of love, and one I have been engaging in for nearly 365 days straight since 2/7/2015. Doing the math now, and I’m going to guess I have practiced between 450 and 500 hours. This would equate to me practicing for nearly 21 days straight at the high end if somebody locked me up and threw away the key, and I did not sleep or eat or etc. I am not planning on this by the way! Music is life, and you must live life to make music.
I also find time to read music theory books and relevant magazines and newsletters as well as watch YouTube performances or lessons to learn from those much more talented than me. I am never without tunes in my ear whether at work or play, and I study and listen to the greats for each instrument.
All of this is wonderful, filling my soul cup daily with bourbon, and I am making significant progress as a result of the effort and focus. There is something much more important than this though. I could not do this without the help and guidance of two talented, interesting, and dedicated instructors for helping me along the path to playing music beautifully.
Recently, I was given the gift of an interview with my classical guitar teacher, Roger Humphrey. I will be sharing his story, wit, and wisdom in a two part blog special starting tomorrow. I hope you will stay with me on this journey.
In the meantime, please check out Roger online:
8 thoughts on “The Art of Learning Music”
I enjoyed this! Very good!! …take a wee listen to an original song we created if you get the chance: https://juniorchills.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/when-the-time-comes-round-our-song-which-was-omitted-from-28-days-later-soundtrack/
Thank you! I will give it a listen. I ❤️ new 🎼!
Thank you for listening…i really appreciate it!!
What effect do you have on the guitar in the beginning? I dig the progression, too.
Theres no effect on the acoustic but I think its a distortion effect on the electric (this was recorded in the studio so the sound engineer just ran with it)…ill try and find out here for you!!
Hi Kelly, I’ve read this particular post a couple of times and I just want to say that I can relate very much to what you have to say and the eloquent way that you say it. I finally got up enough nerve to respond, as I am very new to blog and only just learning to read music and play classical guitar. Thanks for a great post. Dave.
Hi Dave. I finally had a chance to reply. I am happy you are learning as well. My instructor keeps telling me to love the process of learning. He is so right. When I am in the moment, enjoying the high points and learning from the low ones of my practice, I feel so much more accomplished at the end. We are reading music! This is a cool talent.
You had me at banjo lol.
I’ve played guitar since I was a teenager. I’m not Zakk Wylde but I’m decent.
It started off drums. Drums went to guitar and then I started attempting to become a student of music. I have an interest for banjo. I suck at the traditional 5 string but I have a 6 string banjo (or banjitar) and I like to think I’ve learned the instrument in a pretty authentic way.