Monday, January 21, 2008

You can lead a horse to water...

I was driving around the other night, and I was grumbling to myself.

(This is not a rare occurrence, but I'm working on changing that!)

Since I'm a writer and a teacher, I get some interesting comments left about my writings.
Some folks like what they read, and some don't. But some people out there are just lazy when it comes to learning stuff. (By the way, in person students, I'm not referring to you.)

You can lead a horse to water, instruct him on the proper footings, and tell him how to figure out if the water is too cold before he drinks, but...He opts for Pepsi.

And so my grumbling went.

One of the tougher lessons I've learned is that when something really irks me, there's usually a personal reason. And sure enough, there was. I saw how I was a stubborn steed, and how I had priceless opportunities all around me, but...I was ordering a Coke.

So what holds us back? Why do our chops suffer?

Picking on myself for a minute, let's see:

1. It's not because I don't have access to information, 90% of it is free. (The other stuff,
that teachers teach you, is actually available, it's just the presentation you're paying for.)

2. It's not because I don't have the "right" guitars. Gear nowadays is really good, even if
you've got the cheapest rig around.

3. It's not because I'm not "coordinated enough" or "talented enough." Steve Vai says
if he was truly talented, he'd be a lot better. Now, we all know he's an alien with super human whammy bar force fields, but he says it's just work and discipline.

Hmm...No wonder I was irked. Yet another reminder for me to stop wasting resources, and start drinking!

Err...the educational water, that is.

What are some of the resources available to you? Here's a few ideas:

1. The internet! If you're reading this, I would guess that has occurred to you. There's
some fantastic sites, from tab sites like, instructional sites like, and then inspiration found on youtube.

2. Music teachers. If you've never taken lessons, give 'em a shot! Make SURE you feel you have a good teacher. You don't have to like 'em, but you'll be able to tell if you're learning something, or not. There's a lot of good, and bad, teachers running around out there. But you'll be able to tell. But don't limit yourself to guitar teachers! I've learned a ton from bass teachers, drum teachers, and vocal teachers. Music is not instrument specific. Remember that.

3. Old guys. They may look funny, and have even stranger ideas about how the world should be run but...They've been around longer (even if it's just ten years! Ha ha!) If you can find an old guy guitar player, they just might be able to show you a lot. Even if it's just watching them play.

4. What you've got. I once asked one of my guitar teachers for some more material. He countered by asking me if I had learned everything he had given me so far. "You'd be the man if you could play everything in that folder." And he was right. Now, it might be hard to play every lick in every book you own...But it might be worth at least getting the point of each book in your collection. I'm always very guilty of blazing ahead, and not learning along the way. Comparing music to eating (a parallel I'm always drawing), we might want to consider "chewing our food" (information) 100 times before we put it on the shelf, never to look at it again.

Wow, now I'm all fired up. I think I'll go dig up my old lesson notes, and check 'em out.

I hope you'll ask yourself what's holding you back. I'm sure you won't find a good answer, because there is no excuse....

not to rock!

Now, go practice, and get super duper good. (And have fun.)


Anonymous said...

You Rock and Your Right! This is from a guy 20 +/_ your elder who started really playing guitar just over 3 years ago. By tooling around on UG initially looking for songs done in Chords I found your Crusade Articles. They have helped me as much if not more then my previous teacher. So now I'm on your web site with your insightful Blogs. My day is pretty busy work, family and other hobbies, the same as most people. But I pick up my guitar at least two to three times aday even if it is for 15 minutes to work on scales or a couple of runs. Nothing comes easy without passion and work and that goes for whatever you want to do. If you want to play bad enough you make the time to practice. Early Morning, Late at Night or even at lunch there is time to play, play, play. I may never be a Steve Via, Tommy Emmanuel, or SRV but I can try. But I do know I am a better Guitar Player then I was 3 years ago. Only one regret, So Little Time and So Many Songs to Play!!
If I get down your way during the summer I would like to set up some lessons with you. I'll let you know.

A New Follower of the Poodle Man

Chris, NY

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your kind words. I surely do appreciate 'em. And if you're every in the Waldorf, MD area, drop me an email, and we can certainly set up some lessons. Thanks for the compliment.


Anonymous said...

Great work.