Thursday, May 25, 2006

In My Musical Past

This is probably the 10th or 20th time I've tried to learn an instrument. I've taken keyboard lessons 4 or 5 times, guitar lessons twice, clarinet lessons in middle school. I've also done the self-instruction thing on keyboard 3 or 4 times, and on guitar another half-dozen, at least.

You'd think I'd have given up by now, but honestly, I know that there's something musical in my nature, and I just can't give it up. So I keep coming back.

My approach, of which I am now certain is flawed, goes something like this: 1) I must practice at least 30 mins, and preferably 1 hour, every day, 2) I must do what the book or instructor says to do, because they know best, 3) somewhere down the line, if I have lots of dedication, determination and discipline, I'll get good, and then it'll be fun. Or something.

This is way screwed up, (for me, at least).

Let's start at the last one. I have no dedication, determination or discipline. None. If it's not fun, I'm not going to do it. I never have with anything else, and I doubt very seriously that I'm going to start now. (If it's me that's screwed up here, so be it. I'm all I have to work with.)

Now the middle one. At this point I've seen enough books and teachers to realize that nobody really knows how to teach an instrument. Or rather, nobody can tell you something that, having heard it, will cause you to learn an instrument. At best, we, the learners, have to teach ourselves, and having books and teachers are only good for minor corrections, suggestions and ideas. At some point, I may well go back to taking lessons, but for now, it's futile.

I don't mean that no teachers know anything, or are incapable of imparting knowledge. All of my teachers have understood their respective instruments. But again, I need to stop relying on someone else to teach me, and figure out how to learn.

The goal, in my opinion, is to get your hands on the instrument. I can type quite nicely. I got that way by typing, a lot. That's a physical challenge, much like learning an instrument. Books have music. Books have ideas for what to play, when you're new enough to not have ideas of your own. Teachers have their place, too, but neither books nor teachers should be up on a pedestal; spread the books out on the floor, and glance down occasionally when you need an idea to get you started.

And the first one: if I'm getting my hands on the instrument, then the time doesn't matter. Or rather, watching the clock doesn't matter. If I'm having fun, playing around, learning a bit here and there, then minutes on the clock will come and go without being noticed. Again, if it's not fun, I personally am not likely to bother.

So I'm giving up on the old way. Good bye, and good riddance. (More shortly on what I'm replacing it with.)

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