Why be a guitar player?- from an aspiring musician
When I was 22 years old and playing the local dance halls and clubs something interesting happened; I met an older, seasoned player from another band and we got to talking. I asked, “How long is it going to take me to become a good player?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “Well, let me put it to you this way, George, the first 20 years don’t count”. We became friends over the years and what I needed to learn was yet to come. He went on to ask, “Why do you want to be a guitar player”? I wanted to make my living as a professional musician and guitarist. Who is George Pjevach and does he know what he’s talking about? Find out here.
My band was already making a comfortable living playing music and had a large following of over 500 in a local market. Although proud of the accomplishment and success, I had an emptiness, something was missing. I wanted to understand music at a deep level. This was my art, my craft, my livelihood and I wanted to master it and be proud. I wanted to have something I could call my own. I didn’t understand what my friend meant at first but over time became enlightened with the wisdom of experience.
What I learned over time
Being an educated, thoughtful, proficient musician vs. banging four chords or rocking the blues scale in 5 forms, in one key, have almost nothing to do with each other. You can make money in the music business with little to no talent. You can even make it big with minimal talent as a musician. I lived it. When I started playing, I knew about 5 chords, 10 songs, had a horrible vocal technique, and was still able to make a living playing.
Music and the music business have very little to do with each other. The focus of the music business is money; Motivate a crowd to excitement, sell drinks, keep customers coming back and keep a steady paycheck. That’s the job of the performer. I brought my friends into party with me, they brought their friends, and we filled the clubs making the owners happy by making their cash register till ring. There’s nothing wrong with making money, everyone has to, including musicians. This is simply the nature of the business. But, for the serious musician/artist, it is flawed.
There are so many different facets of music and the music business a young budding player can easily get confused, lose focus, take bad advice and spend years traveling down the wrong road.
What is Music?
This subject can fill a book but for our purpose, we will filter down. In its raw form, music can be broken down and thought of as combinations of sounds and silence, air movement, and vibrations.Let’s move past that and discuss music’s purpose.
Music, for the sake of music, is driven by the love of an art form for its beauty and communicative value. Music can bring people together, create feelings of happiness, sadness, thoughtfulness, and melancholy. It can scare you, make you feel at peace and more.
From a listener’s perspective
Music fills many needs in our society. It enhances the experience of watching a movie, helps people find love in a bar or dance club and removes the silence from the air in our home. It fills our car with sound so we can jam, sing along or reminisce. You get the picture.
From a mainstream musicians’ perspective
It is a vehicle to tell our story, share our art form, have a skill we are proud of, be a part of a bigger whole, or enjoy a hobby.
Classical musicians have to be perfect; they take pride in being a part of and helping to create the perfection of beautiful sound.
Most ( I said, “most”) Jazz musicians, similar to classical musicians are highly educated. Jazz is a vehicle which allows a musician to learn and master theory, harmony, music and their instrument. Then, they “get to forget” what they learned and play, within the structure of the chords, anything they want. The difference between a Jazzer playing anything they want and an uneducated, inexperienced player is that everything they play can be musically explained and makes sense. An educated ear can hear the musician’s thought process as they play in real time.
Becoming a musician on the guitar
To become a master, a virtuoso of your chosen instrument (as in our title, Why be a guitar player?), with a true understanding of your craft and instrument, takes time. Start by learning technique and communication skills in the language of music (reading and writing). You learn your scales, arpeggios, chords in all 12 keys. You get to know your instrument.
Why should you learn to play in all 12 keys?
There are several reasons. Not everyone sings or plays in the same key. If you are backing up singers you need to be able to transpose (play the same song in any key). You see, songs can sound better or worse in different keys. When working with other musicians, the guitarist must be flexible to proficiently perform in any key required by the band or show.
True, educated musicians pay attention to every note, dynamics, attack, sustain, tension, release, rhythm, timing, balance, and mix. The music takes you on a journey. You can create feelings and moods in your audience through knowledge of how sound impacts the listener. The banger bangs and has fun. That has its place and is fine jamming with your friends or around a campfire. Its important for you to know the difference and what you want out of your music.
Why be a guitar player?
Music brings out emotion and feelings in the listener. It tells a story. The job of the musician is to know how to create the sound that brings out the desired emotions and feelings in the listener expertly; to know, instantly, how to find happy or sad sounds and convey them to the listener. If you play in a group, ensemble or show it is your job to proficiently perform the parts written for your instrument to save time and money for the investor.
If you do not study, learn and master music, and your instrument, it is impossible to deliver the above and therefore not have the option to have the freedom to play anything you want or to secure a good paying job as a musician. Hit or miss is not an option at a professional level. In fact, you need to be the expert on your instrument because your competition will be.
As a hobbyist
Why be a guitar player? As a hobbyist, knowing music and your instrument will allow you to enjoy your hobby completely and without restriction. Imagine being able to grab a piece of music off the shelf or from the internet and play it. Wouldn’t it feel good to jam with your friends on their songs, in their keys and sound good doing it? How about driving home from work, hearing a song on the radio that you would like to play, get home, grab your guitar and easily figure it out on your own? Wouldn’t that be great? It is all attainable with proper instruction and a couple of years practice. You are going to be playing your guitar anyway, right?
Why not put in a couple of years to learn your craft? The basics will never, in your lifetime, change. So, once you learn it you never have to learn it again. Become enlightened and enjoy.
This is where you will find your greatest passion and satisfaction in your instrument and music. Do you want to be a musician? Click here for lots of good information.
Look forward to your comments!