Playing Guitar and Learning to be a Musician

Several weeks ago I had a young student in a class of four whose head really looked like it was going to explode.

I had set an assignment for the class to learn a new tune. They all did it – except for this one 8 year old student. Now he wasn’t a slacker. He could play last week’s tune with musicality and precision. In fact it was better than he played it last week. It was obvious that he loved playing it and he didn’t work on the new tune, even though his parent reminded him to do so all week. So when everyone played the new tune, he eyes bulged with tears and he became red in the face with a mixture of embarrassment and anger, which resulted in his oppositional refusal to even try the new tune when I asked. Being eight, he could not articulate why he didn’t work on the new tune and being eight – and responsibly minded – he just felt guilty and bad and angry at his mom who was sending the “I told you so” looks at him. He had an unpleasant lesson. But it will be a good one for both him and his mom. Because this is the lesson they both eventually learned:

Playing guitar is special. Sometimes when we learn music, we just like to play it. We play it over and over – especially if it is a tune that was perceived hard before it was learned. It was perfectly alright not learning the new tune because it was obvious he was practicing the old one and perfecting it. He played that tune with love and didn’t love the new one yet. So even though he didn’t do my assignment, he did a more important one, and that was discovering the magic of the music he loved. Unlike the other students in his class, he was being a musician and not a student. He is allowed to do that anytime.

Kevin Taylor ©2013