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Monday, January 14, 2019

Just Keep Playing

Just Keep Playing

I have been diligently trying to learn to play guitar for almost six years.  I can play guitar, but I am still learning to play guitar.  I don’t think you ever stop learning how to play guitar.  There is always something new to learn, you can always play faster and cleaner.

The worlds greatest guitar players are probably still working on new techniques, and to improve their old techniques…always you can improve.

One improvement I have found in my playing is I am developing the ability to play on through my mistakes.  That sounds simple, but the natural inclination, for me at least, has been to stop and start over when I make a mistake.  Any error or chord out of sequence and I would get thrown off and have to start all over.  Often with an "Aw Sh*t" thrown in.

I have noticed at concerts, that the professionals do indeed make mistakes.  They probably often make mistakes that only they or their band-mates notice, part of being a professional is to play on without ruining the piece.

Sometimes a performer will make an obvious mistake or even forget where he is in a song.  The professional does not panic, he just keeps strumming until he finds his place.  Sometimes a singer will just throw in a “La la la la la la la” to fill in his brain fart.  Sometimes they will keep strumming and apologize to the audience.

“Sorry folks, there is a missing verse in there somewhere, I just can’t find it” but they do not stop and just start all over.

I actually enjoy it when these “live” slip ups occur.  It humanizes the performer, and I admire their ability to not panic and work their way through a memory lapse.

This guitar stuff is teaching me about life.  

You never stop learning, trying new things, and improving.  It does not matter that you probably will never reach greatness, and certainly will not reach perfection, it is the attempt that keeps you going.

Playing fast is exciting, but often the music is sweeter if you slow down your pace.
If you make a mistake, screw up in any way as we all do, for me on more than a daily basis, you have to just struggle through it.  There are no do-overs in life, you make mistakes, you learn from them and you keep on playing.

You play until the music stops.


  1. "...You play until the music stops." - This post is perfection. - Also, I like it when performers slip up too and they just laugh their way thru it most of the time. Another lesson I suppose... :)

  2. I'm glad you're still learning and now playing through your mistakes. It's the same with dance. You can know a routine inside out but on stage if a mistake is made, just fill in with a couple of extra steps and get back to the proper ones.

  3. A great life lesson. And honestly, the more complex the piece, the least likely anyone else will notice.

  4. Exactly. And when you are "practicing," you are really playing, too. A very talented pianist once pointed out that there's no practice, just playing, and the more you play, the better you get.

  5. Well said, Joe. An important lesson that some never learn.

  6. Playing through can really be hard sometimes be it either guitar or life. But we become better each time. Play on.

  7. I do like that attitude and it easily applies to daily life. Trip, fall, get up and keep moving.

  8. I really like your take on this. You are quite the musician-philosopher.

  9. Brilliant, Joe, Brilliant.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Joe. 😎

  10. Great article and a good lesson. Thanx.

    I found playing the guitar very difficult. For some reason, my fingers always got entangled in the strings.

    God bless.

  11. Excellent summary and analogy at the end, Joe. BTW, I read about someone fairly recently who, in a concert, could not remember the words to one of her most well-known songs. Might have been Carole King.

  12. We can't all be Segovia!!

  13. Well lets hope that sweet music goes on for a long long time.

  14. I agree with Mimi. It's a perfect post. Mistakes happen in music and in life and we have to accept them and move on!

  15. And you know, the great ones can sometimes have fun with it. . .

    I was at a Paul McCartney concert some years back, and he was playing "You Never Give Me Your Money", and right in the middle, he sang,

    "And this is the bit
    Where I don't know the words,
    But I don't think that I'm
    Gonna even bother
    To learn them
    Before the end of the tour."

    When the live CD came out months later, it had the same bit, recorded at a different venue. So whatever level of brain-cramp he had, he poked fun at himself for everybody. . .

  16. I like this...if you don't know what to do for a while in life, just go forward with la la la for a bit!