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Learning to Converse...Musically Speaking

Updated: May 2, 2022

Hey Rowdy Rockers and Young Grasshoppers,

I wanted to write about something that has been on my mind a lot lately now that I'm once again teaching music lessons full time. As I ponder diagram after diagram of music theory nerdery, roman numeral systems, chord charts, and song after song of various artists that my students crave to master, I wonder...what are all the diagrams missing?

I sometimes joke with my students that most Western music can be understood with a few simple musical equations. But I don't like thinking about music as an equation to be "solved."

Music is a conversation. It's an ebb, and flow. It's a state of mind where logic and rationalization are met with mischief and passion. Where tricky questions are met with their strongest answers. Where tension meets release. Where math meets love.

Pure feeling.

When you hear some of your favorite songs, the songs you grew up listening too, what is it that makes them so special?

In this digital age, so many things can be reduced to ones and zeros, and some would argue that music can as well. But how can we measure the feeling and emotional connection of a singer like Alicia Keys? Why is it so awesome to hear the string noise of the acoustic guitar in The Black Keys' "Little Black Submarine"? How could an android ever play a truly accurate version of Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner?"

And what's more, would a machine be able to write a song that really moves you?

In this digital age, some aspects of music may become a lost art if we aren't careful. If we remove the aspect of musical conversation, we're left with braindead techno zombie edm on endless repeat.

Learning to be free when playing is truly an art. It takes years and years to master. You think, the guitar speaks. You aren't bound to any scale or time or rhythm. You know the rules and the finer points so well that you know where to bend and break them...AS YOU SEE FIT! This is my goal for ALL my students. It is not enough to play what's on the page. We also have to learn to play what's in our souls.

These days, our souls are being stifled. Rest assured, I am here, ready to have a musical conversation with you. If you're reading this then you're not dead yet, so there is still hope for you.

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