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Dear 1999

NOTE: this post is part of a group blogging event.

If you could go back to 1999 and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Christmas/New Years is when I started started playing guitar. Nine years ago during Christmas I got my first guitar, a Washburn BT2. I’m going to write this post as a “Dear 2000,” which was when I started getting very into the music world.

If I could talk to my 1999 self, I’d tell him several things:

  • Don’t “study” rock guitar. Study the basics: chords, strumming, alternate picking, and how to read charts, tab and notation. Then use those skills to work on rock music independently.
  • Along those lines, start taking classical guitar lessons right now.
  • There’s more to the musical world than Metallica. (note: I still love Metallica)
  • Art music is important, you should listen to it. But don’t start with composers that academics hold up as the greats (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart), you’re not ready for that yet. Listen to some modern music with pop music inspirations. Research, play older music, then you’ll might have enough of an appreciation to understand Mozart and Bach.
  • You need to listen to music constantly.
  • Think smaller. Work on little things, not entire riffs or songs.
  • Start transcribing and stop using Tab.
  • Never hesitate to “fire” your teacher. Always seek out the instructor with the best information. At very least be sure to discuss your goals with your teacher.
  • Stop eating like crap, go for a walk. Then go lift some heavy things. (I used to very overweight)
  • Practice more. Be focused.
  • Smile more. Act like you’re confident, and you might just end up being confident.
  • Start gigging. Seek out places to play.
  • Play guitar with anyone you can. Playing in groups and ensembles is important.
  • Start taking voice lessons. Singing will make you a better musician (and make college ear training much less terrifying).
  • Turn off the TV, pick up a book.
  • Expand your reading: there’s more to the literary world than science fiction and fantasy.
  • Always believe in your success. Avoid those negative thoughts about failure.
  • Research college choices more thoroughly. Don’t just go by proximity.
  • Play a sport — you’ll learn very useful things about yourself very quickly.
  • Never accept defeat or failure as inevitable.

I really only have one regret about my life’s path over the last ten years: I was a whiny little !@#$% for most of it. I wish it hadn’t been so. I wish I possessed the confidence I do today ten years ago. That said, I’m incredibly happy with how everything eventually turned out. Despite the bad stuff, things tend to work out if you let them.

So, here’s to the next decade. Because it’s going to be very exciting.

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