Patience on the Path
When it comes to playing sports, have you ever noticed that some people pick it up almost right away and get really good, and others take time to develop? That’s simply the nature of being human. And the people that do take more time getting good stick to it because it’s something they want. They have a passion for it!
There is wisdom in letting development unfold as it will.
“Do not rush to early ripening,” it reads in the Tao Teh Ching.
In fact, many of the greats do not become so right away. Michael Jordan, known as one of the, if not THE, greatest basketball players of all time, stated in his autobiography that growing up, and even through high school and college he always felt inferior to his older brother as a basketball player. His brother’s jersey number was 45, and Michael Jordan picked #23 because he wanted “to at least be half as good as his brother.” Well, we all know what a champion Michael Jordan grew to be in the pros!!!
Another quote from the Tao Teh Ching is: “Great talents often develop late.”
So again, there is wisdom in allowing yourself to develop at your own rate. Your focus should be to put the time in to your practice so your development continues.
And have fun!
There was a great line from Terry Silver in Cobra Kai where he was teaching his “Quicksilver Method” and he spoke of the three D’s of being a champion: Desire, Devotion, and Discipline. And he says, “The first two I cannot give you. The third I can.”
This speaks greatly of the responsibility of the student if they do wish to reach their full potential in this life, as well as the role of the teacher. In guitar, the teacher can teach you your chords, scales, time signatures, etc. but they cannot make you practice at home throughout the week. That is up to you as the student.
And to be fair, not everyone who learns guitar wants to become an Eddie Van Halen or a Joe Satriani. And that’s ok! To reach such a height, to reach the summit of your own mountain top and attain mastery, requires TOTAL focus and discipline. You have to be the person sitting in their bedroom or in the basement playing for hours everyday! It has to be one of the, and usually THE main focus of your life! It takes hours and hours and hours of playing!
And not everyone has such a goal for themselves; and that’s ok too! Most people are focused on things like their school life, their career and work life, their family; and for them playing guitar is a fun hobby they enjoy. And that’s awesome! Whether you want to climb your mountain, torch in hand, and shred with the masters, or you want to just be able to play some chords and strum some songs hanging out on the beach with your friends; whatever your motivation is, playing guitar is a great choice of a peaceful life! And that to me is a great gift!!!
The real point is to just enjoy guitar playing so that it becomes something that adds real value to your overall enjoyment of life! And not to rush to early ripening, but simply to steep yourself in your practice, in your training, with however much time you have, and allow for your development to unfold as it will. Let go of trying to force things, and simply enjoy your guitar practice! As the Beatles said, “Let it be.”
Developing Guitar Skills
Above I mentioned the technical aspects of learning guitar like chords, scales, etc. that the teacher can teach you. Well, what’s also important is your ability to actually understand and use these things to be able to play music. And that takes time…
And it’s equally important for the teacher to have a keen eye for where you are in your development and give you these elements as you are ready for them. In other words, not only when you have formed a proper welcome in your soul for them, but when you are ready to use them!
A teacher can dump all the music theory on a student at the very beginning, but it will in large part be a waste because the student has no idea what to do with this knowledge. Yes, the student could take thorough notes and spend the following years training them on their own. But the solitary path is not for most, as Myamoto Musashi (known as Japan’s greatest swordsman) points out in his legendary Book of Five Rings.
So it is best, if you are dedicated to guitar lessons, for the teacher to always have a keen eye for exactly where you are so they know how to help you grow right now! In reality, dumping all knowledge on you at once in the beginning would be likened to having a plant ready to grow and just dumping ten years of water on it at once. The plant would drown and probably never grow!
The other aspect I’m pointing to here is that while there is the sort of left-brained, technical aspects of playing guitar (learning chords and scales, etc.) there is also the purely (intuitive/emotional/creative) developmental side of PLAYING MUSIC!
Knowing power chords is one thing. Knowing HOW TO ROCK THEM… is another!
So a large part of learning guitar is also simply getting better at playing music using what you have learned. And again, if you allow yourself to just enjoy playing guitar, and let go of all expectations (expectation leads to disappointment!) and learn to open up and LOVE learning and playing then you will be on a good path!
“If it is a path with heart, then it is a good path!” –The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda
I also find it key for the teacher to just check in with the student from time to time and have a connecting discussion about how the student feels, what they are thinking and focused on. Because a large part of learning from a teacher isn’t just, “here’s a bunch of cool guitar stuff, learn this and you’ll be awesome!” It’s also about the connection that develops and exists between teacher and student. From a teachers perspective there is also wisdom to that because what everyone is really seeking is genuine connection.
This is also to say that if the teacher is teaching something, but the student is stuck in one spot thinking something that never gets addressed and isn’t quite ready to follow the teacher to the next thing, then what can happen is the teacher keeps moving forward with their teaching, but the student stays in the same spot; so the teacher moves farther and farther away from them.
So there’s actually a responsibility on both teacher and student to speak up, openly share their thoughts, and connect in real time (and of course this should always be done with respectful gratitude for each other). If you do keep a personal touch to things and keep the connection alive, checking in and having the right discussions from time to time, then there will always be plenty of food on the table for everyone!
Growing into your Art
Even in spiritual development it is often taught that you don’t want to rush to try and force results, but should work on yourself diligently and patiently await what is to come; as was intelligently elaborated by Rudolf Steiner in his classic novel, Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. As he points out, those who try to force a vision of the spiritual world before their chakras (spiritual sense organs) have properly developed will only get an incomplete view of the spiritual world.
I am reminded of the song “Harvest” by Opeth when Mikael Akerfeldt sang: “Wilted scenes for us who couldn’t wait.”
Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, what I am inviting you to get from this is simply in the nature of learning and growing into your art.
Patience and Persistence are key!
So keep your Spirit Up, have fun and Rock On!!!
Music is a blessing
Having music in our lives is such a blessing! Not that long ago, if you didn’t play an instrument or know someone who did, you didn’t hear music! Now we have music from around the world at any time at the touch of a button! That’s incredible!!!
And playing music is a Godsend! Just imagine a couple hundred years ago wanting to play an instrument… Well you better hope that you even have access to one, and to a good teacher! So we are quite blessed to be able to learn.
The humble truth is, every step on the path is a blessing. The fact that we can sit down and play some guitar for a time means that right now we have been afforded a moment of peace. It also means that our health is good enough to allow for our good fortune of being able to play some guitar. So life must be okay right now in this moment. We’re doing okay. And we should count our blessings!
Even the fact that you are reading this blog post right now means that you have a free moment to enjoy life and learn something. I’m going to guess that you’re not getting shot at, at this moment, or suffering through a major surgery. If you are and you’re still reading this… then what a dedicated champion you are! lol 😆
Life in Every Breath
There’s a great line from The Last Samurai where Katsumoto is speaking of the Way of the Warrior and is defining Bushido: “To know life in every breath, every cup of tea…” That’s living life with awakened gratitude!!!
There’s another great line where he says, “The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.” Then in the end when he is dying he looks across the field, and as it is spring in Japan, he sees a cherry blossom tree in full bloom and remarks the revelation, “They are all perfect!”
Every breath is a blessing! And on a very fundamental level, the fact that you are breathing and able to read about guitar means there is more right with you then wrong right now 🙂
My friend and I like to use the analogy of a bee. You see it flying around, trying to land on the blossom to do its work. The wind blows and the flower moves, and it looks like he’s having a hard time landing on the flower. It looks kind of clumsy. The truth is the bee is actually quite efficient (and dedicated!). And so it seems like the bee is just busy all day long doing his bee work. The beautiful truth of it is, though, the bee gets to do this work!
And so it is with guitar… We get to play guitar! We get to practice so we get better!!
It’s a blessing of having the time, the means, the good health and physical ability of being able to pursue playing an instrument; and we should always carry gratitude in our mind and love in our heart for this chance to achieve something higher than ourselves! Something that adds enjoyment, peace, enrichment to our lives as we get to pursue something we have such a deep love and appreciation for: Music!
Walking the Path
And sure, I understand the growing pains of working on getting your chords sounding good and switching between them to timing. But that’s part of the path! And better to steep yourself deeply in each moment of learning and really feel it out and think it through; really approach it with Heart! That’s how you get the most out of your learning; because each step of the way there is fruit to be had: in the small successes, the lightbulb moments, even the mistakes!
It is actually only our own ego that thinks of it as not being perfect. You are actually meant to be exactly where you are right now, doing exactly what you are doing… And that includes messing up a chord 😆 So better to laugh it off and keep enjoying what you’re doing. Instead of getting upset when mistakes happen, or about not progressing as fast as you think you should, let me offer you the perspective of having humble gratitude and love for yourself and your life, as well as this opportunity to do something as awesome as learning music! When we make mistakes we just laugh it off and say, “That’s ok too.”
Development tends to happen in ways we don’t notice. We’re not aware of the incremental progress; it’s only when we make a big break-through to that next plateau that we realize “Hey, I’m getting it!” And everyone thinks of each plateau as a stuck spot (“I’ve plateaued”). Actually you should explore each plateau as thoroughly as you can. Enjoy this beautiful place you’ve landed! That’s what will prepare you for making that next big break-through; that ascension to the next level!
The seed is not the rose yet, but it is perfect
The stem is not the rose, but is perfect
Even the imperfect blossom is perfect
“They are all perfect”
Virtual Guitar Lessons
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this more philosophical post! Thanks for reading!!!
If you’re interested in signing up for virtual guitar lessons feel free to give me a call or you can sign up using the contact button at the top of the page. And if you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter on the Home page, where I send deeper insights, inspirations, and guitar lessons!!!
Until next time, have fun playing!!!
Divine Guitar Lessons