The last entry I made, I talked about how it had been a long time since I played guitar. That was maybe 9 or 10 days ago as of this writing. Amazingly, all I’ve done since in my spare time is… play guitar. I seem to have fallen in love with it all over again and it’s really wonderful! It does take away time spent blogging, so I am not posting as many updates, but I am sure it will all balance out.
After my first few sessions my hands were sore, but as I continued on, I noticed some improvements. This has helped to spur me on, because within a couple days I could tell my playing was getting better.
I need less time to warm up, although I still need more than I did before I developed nerve issues. When the band was practicing once a week it took me more time than it would if I were to pick up my guitar and start playing now. This saves me time and lets me focus more on learning new material rather than going over old stuff again and again just to get loose and fluid.
I can tell that certain things I used to be able do easily are more challenging, so I’ve been finding work-arounds. For example, playing in open tunings or different tunings that make it easier to stretch to hit notes, or adjusting the angle at which you hold your pick so when you want to shred, you can activate more muscle fibers than your previous positioning with diminished nerve signal would allow. Contrary to what Sammy Hagar says, there is definitely more than one way to rock. Purism is bullshit, just make the noise that makes you smile.
Speaking of that, I have shifted my focus from goal-oriented rehearsal to playing for the sheer joy of playing. It seems obvious that we should devote at least some of our time with our instruments to this, but as creative folks who craft songs out of raw ideas, it’s easy to stress out or feel like you’re in a race. So, I took a step back. I asked myself why, if I were going to do this, would I go back to the same old practice routine that I grew tired of in the past? I’ve been learning a lot of new songs, mostly Devin Townsend stuff, and getting an amazing sense of fulfillment and happiness just because hey, I can play along with this great song that I love! And the more I learn, the more I play, and the more joy it brings me.
When I was a kid, I had a faux guitar fashioned out of a toy sword for the neck and a cardboard cut-out of an Explorer-type body taped to the handle. I painted the cardboard red and added black and white lines all over it so it would look like something Eddie Van Halen would play. I would rock the fuck out listening to Def Leppard or Dio all the time, in my little ten-year-old fantasy mind I was on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans who were banging their heads and singing along, horns thrust up into the air. Now, when I have those moments of musical fantasy, I can actually play the song, and to me, that is just miraculous. Why would I ever want to stop?
Let’s hear it for the Upward Spiral.