I had a very interesting conversation a moment ago with a friend of mine. My friend is trying to find her own music. We spoke about how she’s developing, she hasn’t played guitar long but is gradually unfolding.
The conversation triggered a memory of a conversation I had with someone about 10 year ago, he is a close family friend who has known me since I was 15. The friend had said to me after I played a tune, that it sounded like music did when I was young, this wasn’t an insult either, he was really just commenting on something that I had had some suspicions about for years.
What came out of the talk was the idea that we are born with our own musical stamp, our own way of expressing and all we need to do is to nurture it and develop techniques, tools and the musical vocabulary to turn the feelings into music, OUR music, not somebody else’s.
Out of fear, I think a lot of players are not willing to just be themselves, and although they have great skills, the identifying aspects that define their musical personality is squashed. When I was about 17 or 18, one of the guys that had as a guitar teacher was Don Andrews, a guitar player who had written dozens of guitar book, at that time he had played for 44 years. Don was not famous for something that I think he should have been famous for. Don once showed me a Maton classical guitar he had made; one day he was sitting on his couch tapping away on the arm of the lounge chair… then he thought, oh that sounds good. He then sent the couch off to Maton to be chopped up and the arm of the chair was used as the neck. It was a seven string classical, that was in the early 1970′s.
Anyhow, back on track, Don said to me at the time “If a person practices all the RIGHT things, eventually they’ll be a very good guitar player, but whether they have talent is another thing”. The talent bit is the thing that may not mean the same to everyone. My view is that everyone has music inbuilt into them at birth; some have it closer to the surface and it matures at an early age, like Charlie Christian, Pat Metheny or Ben Harper.
The goal for me as I see it is to strip away the layers which get in the way of music coming out. I think that the missing elements are Trust and Confidence. If we listen hard enough and are sensitive to what is trying to come out, eventually when we have the right tools in place, the music will have no choice than to just ooze out.
Tony Hogan 2009