This year I’ve worked harder to learn to play the guitar than I have in past years (lots and lots of past years). While I’m not ready to open for Aerosmith on their next world tour, I’m making progress. More importantly, I’m having more fun playing than I have ever before.
So this past weekend of ridiculous fun, raucous laughter and amazing concerts included a brunch in Northern VA with friends from far and wide. I consumed way too much delicious food and was seriously considering a cat nap when musical instruments started coming out. More than a couple of people in our group are really talented musicians who have been honing their craft for years. One could get really intimidated by their abilities if they weren’t so freakin’ nice and inclusive.
So, I ended up with a guitar in my hands. My initial instinct was to play the one song I know really well (really well being a relative term) and hand off the guitar to someone more experienced. I made my way through my song, the other guests sang along and I put the guitar on the table so the “real” musicians could play. Then a funny thing happened, the serious musicians started playing and I quickly realized they expected me to play with them. Again, I found myself ready to hand off the guitar but then I remembered a great rule for beginners or anyone looking to learn more, really. Anytime you have the chance to practice your skill with more advanced practitioners, take advantage of the situation.
In other words, play up.
I struggled to keep up as they went through a number of songs way more advanced than I am, but the others took the time to yell out chords, help me with my strumming and in general allow me to fumble my way through. The great thing is that I learned a few things that I wouldn’t have learned just sitting there. I don’t care if you’re a knitter or a litigator: if someone with more experience is willing to put you in the game or spend time teaching you something new, you take them up on that offer. Check your ego at the door over your imperfections and dive in. It beats sitting in your room watching Youtube videos trying to figure something out, I promise you that.
Did I come out of that jam session an entirely new and improved guitar player? No. But I learned a few things and had a hell of a lot of fun at the same time.