If you hear the music, you can play it.
I got my first guitar at the age of five. Family vacation in Texas, day trip to Mexico, and the markets of Matamoros yielded the handmade guitar seen above. Requinto Guitarra or “little guitar” sat in the closet until a children’s magazine ran an article on learning guitar. That summer, I quickly moved from playing nursery rhyme songs to song writing. I’ve been playing with the inner muse ever since.
Let Them Play!
In grade school, I fell in love with the sound of jazz trumpet. (Hey, who doesn’t love the sexy metalic muted sound of a trumpet playing slow jazz?) Parents bought a student trumpet and a year’s lessons on the Mel Bay system. But like most kids, I didn’t like practicing scales. Instead I practiced “A Taste of Honey” (Herb Alpert) and could play it pretty well. Let’s just say the trumpet teacher was not impressed and I soon parted ways with “playing brass.”
Everyone is a Musician!
By the age of 14, I was a self-proclaimed “ear musician.” I was also pretty outspoken about the way music was taught to kids: “Look, kids hear popular music and think it sounds cool. . . They want to play (guitar, trumpet, or drums.) They want to make cool sounds. But we tie them to a chair and tell them to practice scales for a few years and THEN you can play fun stuff. That’s so backwards. Hey, you need music theory. You need to understand scales, triads, and the mechanics of music. But you need to start with fun. . . let the inner musician come out to play!”
That summer, JazzHat ended up with 8 (grade school) students taking guitar lessons. The pitch to parents was: “Your child picks a song they like. At the first lesson I’ll have the song tabbed, teach them to tune their instrument, form the chords, & send them home to practice “their” song. I don’t teach scales, I teach fun!”
The Beat Goes On
Today, JazzHat lives, writes, and performs in central Ohio. And by the way, he is not at all anti-music theory. He has studied on-line at Berkley College of Music and is always pursuing deeper understanding of the “mechanics behind the muse.” As JazzHat says, “Music is the fun, music theory is the portal that allow you to take it where you want.”
Sincere thanks Dad for buying my first guitar. To Matt for helping design logo. Tom for web design and insane support. Derrick (Mr. Marketing Mojo) for the push. My kids for allowing and pursuing music in their own lives. And Liz for your appreciation & understanding when I “do my thing”.