A few weeks ago, I was asked to join a band! I have been playing the guitar since I was 9 years old and I love jamming-out to ‘80s rock. Here is a little taste of the glory as I shredded the National Anthem on my Charvel guitar earlier this year. I have been in several bands over the years and have had a blast doing a few gigs from time-to-time. The band I was asked to sit-in with is a little departure from my typical band experience.
Here is the band: piano, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, drummer, electric bass and me on electric guitar. (Not quite the line-up for ‘80s rock, I know.) Last Saturday, we had our first rehearsal and here is where the story gets interesting. I showed up and immediately recognized that I was in a different musical league than I’m used to. These people are real musicians. I’m more of an arm-chair musician.
Well, everyone setup and all of the sudden… BAM! The music started and I was doing everything I could to keep up in order to not look like I didn’t know what I was doing. To put it mildly, I was humbled by these amazing musicians and it stung my ego a little. You see, I have a certain level of confidence in my skill as a guitarist. I have played for many years, given lessons to guitar students and been in my share of bands. Well, as I tried to keep up with the members of my new band, I realized a few things … some good lessons that I remind myself of.
The first lesson is that I absolutely love to play the guitar! Even though I was barely keeping up, I was having a TON of fun. Playing live music is so exhilarating. I also love to watch live music of any type; jazz, country, metal, rock, pop, I love it all. The real lesson here is that I reconnected with a passion of mine and it felt good. Music is totally outside of my daily responsibilities of leadership, technology and the law. However, in a very cool way my experience of getting back into a band has seemed to sneak into my daily routine in the discussions I have with others and the way I approach solving problems. In short, reconnecting with my passion for the guitar has sparked my creativity fire in a big way.
The second big lesson I learned and continue to learn is the importance of being teachable and humble. A wise prophet once said, “Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.” As the band started playing, I was compelled to be humble. That was uncomfortable. Fortunately, I recognized that my ego became bruised and I caught myself in time to make the rehearsal a learning experience. I recognized that little jazz band that I was asked to join represented an opportunity to learn a new style of music. Sometimes when you are uncomfortable, you are at that moment facing a teaching opportunity for self-improvement. The lesson of keeping my pride in check and staying humble and teachable is important to me so I’m not “compelled” to be humble so much.
Finally, since that first rehearsal, I have been in the proverbial woodshed; practicing unit my fingers hurt. This final lesson from that band practice is the importance of practicing skills to improve and stay proficient. Practice does make prefect. Practicing to stay sharp is good advice not just for musicians, but for everyone in whatever capacity or career path you happen to be on. Practicing is itself a humbling exercise. While practicing, you are acknowledging that you need to improve or stay current and imposing self-discipline in the process.
I was humbled at the first band practice, but I’m practicing hard and I will play my parts much differently at our two remaining rehearsals and then at our gig. I’m having fun with this more jazzy style of guitar playing and I’m learning a ton from the experience. I can’t wait for our performance!