I hated It! Monday night was here and instead of feeling the anticipation of learning, I just felt knots in my stomach and lead in my hands. How was I to play anything for my teacher if my fingers were rebelling like this?
I had officially been taking guitar lessons for 4 months at this time of decision. I wasn’t new to playing. I played the guitar – basic chords, some strumming patterns, simple finger picking – for over 30 years. I knew enough to accompany songs at school. I, also, knew enough to know I needed more technique to pick out the melodies and accompany the songs in my dreams.
I could hear them — these melodies and backgrounds — but my fingers didn’t know how to find them in the strings. I felt trapped between this longing to play and the meaningless, unmusical feel of the challenging pieces my teacher was giving me. It didn’t matter if I could read them and play them, the imbalance of pushing ahead to more difficult scales and reading exercises left me starving for the feeling of accomplishment. What he assigned took so much time to practice that there was no time to explore more meaningful music on a more basic level than these pieces — not songs but exercises of concentration — represented.
Inside, I had screeched to a stop. If I was to continue, something had to change. It was time to confront this dichotomy of desire to learn and inner refusal at playing one more exercise. I needed a balance of pleasure and challenge to keep my inner musician motivated to carve out moments in my busy life. I needed some songs that could just allow my fingers to sing across the strings as a part of my goals. That would mean a need to slow down the pace the lessons were going so that I could rehearse and perfect pieces at that same time that I worked on much needed technique.
Conflict intimidates me but I had that talk with my instructor and, today, it is all I can do to wait until the hours I can respectfully practice my music in my apartment. The strains of the music run through my head and itch to come to life through my fingers. I still have technique exercises to work on but they feel like warm up to my real goal – making music that sings.
This resonates with the writing I am doing for the challenge I am in. The newest prompts are ideas that sing in my spirit but, from this place I am now, would limp through my fingers. If I am to reach toward my voice having more power to persuade others that justice matters or to reach into the other voices that can fill out my present story of one, I need to work on basic tools of recording thought and exploring ideas that can stretch the tendons of my mind so that I can reach across the strings of the page and make words sing. To do that, I will need to have the discipline of putting words to paper or screen, day by day, ritual opening the musicality of my soul so that it.
Though they take effort, writing out my thoughts and making music teach me who I am. Only by honestly doing the work of learning to listen to and release those voice in my soul will I find the balance that will help me do the work I need to do to grow. I may need to confront the task master within to find a realistic pace for my efforts to do that. If so, it is a confrontation worth having. I may have to alter my attachment to the expectations of others. If so, it is a reconfiguring worth making. Whatever it takes, I have to pull together what I need inside to do the one thing that will help my fingers sing out the ideas of the artist within.
I have to practice.