Got a call last night from a former student, who now has his own medical practice and still plays in a blues band. He's a monster guitar player. I haven't seen him for a few years but every so often we exchange FB messages and when his band is going to play anywhere nearby, he lets me know. It was great to catch up with him for a little while.
The real purpose of his call was to discuss the possibility of taking lessons again, after all these years. It isn't that he can't play nor is it that he hasn't been playing guitar. Quite the contrary. He's fabulous at what he does. But now, he's feeling like he's in a rut because he isn't being stretched or thought about what his guitar says when he plays. I reminded him that he's got to assess whether he really has the time for lessons, because with a thriving medical practice, a wife, 3 young children, a home and a band he plays in when they can all get together, he might not actually have time for another thing. I also talked about the approach I'd use to broaden him as a musician. I would capitalize on but challenge his ear. I would move away from his blues in order to stretch his articulation. I'd also have him not listen to much guitar music, but some other instruments in the hands of extremely gifted musicians. He saw the merit of what I was suggesting.
He said he tends to work better within structure and the ideal would be to take lessons. We'll see if I'll be working with him again.
The take away I want you to have is this: even if you're accomplished in your genre. If you play covers, rather than original music, you may excel right into a rut that bores you or even worse, makes you feel like there isn't any reason to play, because you already play all the stuff you like. Gasp!!! There's more to say, musically! There will always be. You just have to think it, hear it and play it. That's the challenge that will stretch and illuminate you. So, you players who haven't said anything musically new in a long time, I'm throwing the gauntlet down to you. Evolve!!
I'll keep you posted if my former student and I resume working together.
Until next time, I'm D A Arlaus, doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time.