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Notes from the Field

Hierarchy of Hard

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It seems there might be a hierarchy of hard, and being human we get stuck at one or other rung of this ladder. But, wanting to be "doing something" we keep at it. And, like a marble in a bowl, we are active but not productive.

And perhaps I am totally mis-reading some of this.

A classic example I experienced while exploring electric mandolin. I have met a lot of adult electric guitar enthusiasts and it really hit home when one of them showed me the most beautiful finely crafted wooden pedal board I have ever seen. Really nice, with some unique useful features, and a high degree of wood working talent. I was impressed. It seemed to me sad. (Maybe inappropriately sad, I don't know the fellow all that well.) Sad because what he was spending his time on and had a very evident talent for was distinctly not playing his (very nice) electric guitar. He obviously loved having the guitar and the guitar culture, but he was busy in the woodshop, because it was easier than getting good at the guitar.

Another example from the adult electric guitar world is effects pedals. My gosh the fiddling around and hard detailed thinking that goes into people choices. If they spent half as much time playing music, they would playing a whole lot of music.

So the hierarchy seems to be something like this:

It is easier for some to buy gear and fine tune it and "chase tone" than it is to get good at the instrument.

It is easier for some to get technically good, even great, at the instrument, than it is to figure out what to play and for whom.

It is easier for some to play impressively than to play expressively and musically.

It is easier for some to play existing music than to compose something new that would be moving and interesting to others.


And I find myself stuck at different times, in different levels of this hierarchy. Nothing wrong with any of these activities, certainly, except if they are done to avoid the challenges of the activities more in line with our musical goals.

My goal, my only real goal, musically, is to be more fun to play music with. And I struggle to keep that in the front of my mind. So many distractions.

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Updated Jun-02-2016 at 4:09pm by JeffD

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