“Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more efficient.”
I have been thinking about how I can show what I have learned with regards to my guitar practice. Playing the guitar is something that I do entirely for myself, and I am extremely self-conscious and shy. The truth is that I really don’t play for anyone but myself. I’m okay with that. I don’t harbour dreams of jamming with friends or playing coffee shops. I like to play and to sing, and unfortunately I have a decent enough ear to hear each mistake and know when I’m sharp and when I’m flat. I try not to let that bother me, and just concentrate on the joy and calm that practicing the guitar gives me each day.
When I started teaching myself a few chords over a year ago; I set myself the goal of learning enough chords so that I could play a few songs that appealed to me. Now I am working on more advanced barre chords and increasing my repertoire of songs. My current plan for myself is to become more comfortable and versed in these chords. I want to become very comfortable with most of the chords I need, and the transitions between them. Then I plan to move on to teaching myself to finger pick and learn the individual notes on the fretboard.
With the exception of a handful of bad days this term; I was sure to practice each day-if only for 15 minutes. This has made a huge difference in my world. I think that changing my passion project and giving myself permission, and a reason, to practice daily has helped me to take time for myself. In addition, I feel like I have a tangable improvement to my skill set. I feel like this is time well spent.
In terms of self care, and what playing daily does for me, I think that it allows me to take my brain out of gear. Having to concentrate on a task that requires effort-forces me to focus outside of myself and on something else.
The other thing I’m able to do is to pick songs that help me express what is going on in my world, and to explore the themes that I’m working through on an emotional level. The most recent example is my deep distress about the senseless violence in schools. This isn’t new, and practicing the Boomtown Rats song “I Don’t Like Mondays” allowed me to explore some of my feelings and get back to sleep.
The other neat thing that happened over the term was the fact that I was able to share what I do with a new friend from our cohort. I’m feeling really blessed about the kindness in terms of my new peers. When my friend came to dinner and was asking about my guitar I actually taught her a few chords on my good guitar while I played my “beater” guitar. We even sang a sweet version of “Jolene” by Dolly! That was really neat, and I think it opened me up to the possibility that I can share this with a friend that I feel safe with.
I think that going forward I will continue to play each day, and make it an important part of decompression and creative time. I love the thought that I can relax and work on a skill that’s real and something I can maybe share someday.