16 years. That’s how long I’ve played the guitar. Long enough to say I’m skilled at what I do. Within the past couple of years I’ve taken on the challenge of teaching music. It’s exciting. I love watching people strive for excellence and light up when they’ve achieved a difficult technique. But what I’ve realized is that students scrutinize.
“Why do you mute the strings with your pink? It looks like you’re hammering a note.”
“Why do you hold your pick that way? Aren’t you suppose to lean in on your strings when you strum?”
If I own any form of patience, it was forged by teaching. Yes, sometimes my students are in the right. And when I try to explain some of the things I do, I realize that they are just bad habits I’ve picked up along the way. Not that these habits are wrong, it is my style, but they can be misleading.
Because I want the people I teach to become better than me, I’ve had to teach myself to stop doing some things (muting with my crazy pinky) and start doing others (holding my pick correctly) However, old habits die hard, so I mostly revert to telling my students, “If it sounds right… Do it.” I know professional musicians would likely balk at this, but for me, one form of playing might be easier than another. So why would I stop what works for me? True, I need to teach my students the correct way to hold a pick. I’m sure when I started I did it the “correct” way. But, what matters more: form? or the way it sounds? I think the former. That’s just my opinion.
The point is this. If things are working for you and you have adapted into doing something that seems strange to others. Don’t stop. It goes for anything: Routine, working out, studying, learning, teaching, ect. You, hopefully, know yourself better than anyone else. But always stay open minded to a new way that might benefit your life.
Go see something live!
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Categories: Matthew Epperson, music
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