Friday, May 6, 2011

[Guitar] Back in Black!

I'm back, baby! In more ways than one, really.

I haven't played my guitar in about six weeks. I know, for shame. I just wasn't feeling it anymore. Part of it was stress - I really did have a lot going on for the last month, and it was hard to pull myself away from my computer. That's a convenient excuse, which is my favorite kind. Having to work for an excuse to slack off defeats the whole point of the excuse. Let's see, what else?

Oh yeah, my son and I got in a little bit of a snit. We had been practicing together every morning, five days a week, for nearly two years. We got through the initial struggle to learn the basic chords. We got through the Monday-morning whining session when he'd reliably break down in tears every Monday morning. We got through the achy fingers and learning the individual notes and the scales and so much else. But after a while, I found that when we were practicing together, I'd be playing and I'd look over to find him just sitting there daydreaming. He played fine when I wasn't there with him, but if I was, forget it - he spent ten or fifteen of the thirty minutes slacking off. It drove me nuts. We'd argue. I'd stomp off because I knew if I wasn't there he'd play fine. I always told myself I'd go back and practice later in the day, I just never did. Eventually, I stopped trying to practice with him in the mornings at all, and I still never practiced in the afternoons. I just quit playing. Let's see, what else?

Oh yeah, I still suck. I mean, even before I took a break, I still sucked. After nearly two years of playing, I still don't "feel" the instrument. I can't just "play." Everything I do on the guitar involves intensive thought and analysis and concentration. That drives me nuts. I'm ready for my muse to just wash over me, infusing me with the skill and ability to pick up the instrument and just go - playing whatever I want to play by ear, without thinking about it and without working at it for months at a time to play just a single part of a single song. I'm kind of sick of sucking.

So that pretty well sums up why I stopped playing for a while - stress, conflict, and intense mediocrity. They conspired together to wear me down, to defeat me, to do what the previous 21 months hadn't been able to do - get me to stop playing.

Well screw that. I'm back! I utterly slacked off on our previous assignment - a part of Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough" that I should have really been in to, but just wasn't, plus a part of Van Halen's "Runnin' with the Devil." The problem I had with "Runnin'" was two-fold - I couldn't play it, which was a big part. But I also didn't know what song it was - part of our assignment had been to figure it out, and I utterly failed to place it. The two were related, of course. With tablature, there's no indication of the tempo of the song, so you only know which notes to play, but not when to play them. Thus, you pretty well have to know how the tune goes or it's near-impossible to figure out. So that was a part of why we played badly. And as a result of playing so badly, I couldn't figure out what song it was supposed to be. Which in turn led to us playing it badly. It was a vicious cycle of sucking. Now that I know what it was, I want to go back and try it again.

Which is to say that, yeah, I'm back. I'm back into it, I feel like playing again, and I'm going to try to work through any issues with my son not playing diligently enough while I'm there. So what changed?

Well, first off I finished a major project that had been absorbing a TON of my time for the last month, so I'm genuinely not as busy (though I'd be busier if I got back to writing my book, but I wouldn't be doing that at the time of day when we practice). I actually think that's a big part of it. But the other big part is the new music we got this week. We're currently working on Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhodes's "Crazy Train," which is cool as hell! And as if that weren't awesome enough, we're ALSO working on AC/DC's "Back in Black"! Hence the title of this thread.

So yeah, I'm stoked. Partly because these are fantastic tunes that I like, but partly because I CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THEM! I mean, not great, but well enough. I can see where I could actually master them (well, the parts we're working on, at least) with some diligent practice. And apparently the spectre of potential success is what it takes to get me going. I'm not a big fan of struggling and then failing. It's a major turn-off. But struggling and succeeding? That I can handle.  So I'm back in black, riding the crazy train. And loving it!

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