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> Ears Vs Hands Vs Feet Vs Eyes Vs Fingers Vs Toes
post May 23 2014, 04:47 AM
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From: Orlando, FL USA
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I must admit, I'm a lucky guy. And the older I get, the more I realize luck is really that secret spice to success.

I grew up in a musical family. My dad played piano, my mom was a singer, neither in any particularly special way (of which I mean in the most complementary way possible). There are many memories of my dad playing the piano, a wedding gift, and my mom singing along with him to a traditional hymnal or possibly a Gilbert and Sullivan composition or two. As the first born, and only male in my lineage, I was pushed into piano lessons early on. The idea of playing an instrument I remember being exciting, but the regiment and theory was not fun for a kid.

The thing I realize I was conditioned for at an early age was a working ear for music. I don't mean that in a way to pretend I know what is good music vs bad music (though we can all agree THIS is bad). I was able to pick out Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Little Start (which turned out to be Mozart, weird smile.gif ) I could hear a phrase and pick out certain nuances of it.

Then some point when I was a teenager and playing an instrument meant girls had an interest in you, I pursued music with a new agenda. I had a head start versus my peers (a fact now that I wished I had exploited). I could pick out a Nirvana tune, or whatever was hot at the time, follow it with a deeper Pink Floyd 'Wish You Were Here", but would explain how I played it vs how it was recorded because they didn't play it correctly.

Throughout my career as a guitarist and musician I realized there has been an ebb and flow between learning too much and relying too much on what I know, with the past few years I've focused on my voice (which brings a brand new set of challenges). Recently, I realized instead of trying to force something, I should just listen and assess, which was instinctive when I learned guitar but somehow took a backseat to the singer I thought I should be. It has been a very productive season with this mindset, dropping all pre-expectations to work with what I have.

I think what is so crucial is having that ear. Picking out the detail in something even if you can't emulate it. That little bit of vibrato, that little bit of struggle that someone can emote is what really separates something special from something average.

In no way do I talk about this to leverage my skills versus someone else's, but how much do you think you rely on your ear vs your hands? I was at my music shop recently where an older guy pulled out his phone to a tuning app and explained he couldn't hear how put a guitar in tune. I always tell my early students that playing guitar is easy. There are A LOT of dumb, bonehead guitar players who can learn a riff or scale and move it up and down the neck and sound good, but the extra special ones can really hear and create the nuances.

Food for thought.

Rock and Roll Lover. Vintage Ampeg collector. Soon to be new father.
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