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Student Profile: MickeyOnAcoustic

Monday, January 24, 2011
Gutiar Student MickeyOur second Student Profile (find Zach & Luke's profile here) will highlight a female guitar student, MickeyOnAcoustic from our Student Support Forum. MickeyOnAcoustic is a novice guitar player, but is working on changing that to an accomplished guitarist and is well on the way.

Thanks to the guitar, I’m falling in love with music like never before. That’s significant, because I grew up with music as an integral and wondrous part of my life: In church I grew up singing a cappella music, which gave me a deep love and appreciation for harmony and tone. I took up the clarinet in elementary school at the age of eleven and played for the next six years. I couldn’t get enough of the 50’s and 60’s music that my parents constantly played (Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye) nor of my generation’s 80’s music (The Police, Phil Collins, Breathe). And in college, I sang and travelled with the Harvard Kuumba Singers and a female a cappella subset of Kuumba called Sisters.

My most memorable musical moment is of singing the South African National Anthem (no small feat!) with Kuumba for Nelson Mandela. We were nervous, but our rendition was to Mandela’s praise. (He said we nailed it and sang things correctly that he rarely heard sung correctly!) Afterward, Mandela took the time to shake every single Kuumba members hand (all 100+ of us!). They say he doesn’t ever want anyone in his presence to feel invisible the way people tried to make him feel invisible all those years of his unjust imprisonment.

[caption id="attachment_654" align="alignright" width="216" caption="MickeyOnAcoustic's Yamaha Acoustic-Electric"]Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar[/caption]

Despite all of that personal history with music and love of music, over the past ten years my relationship with music gradually fell off. I think it largely had to do with the nature of a lot of the pop music being produced and played on the radio. As a teacher, I felt that much of the lyrics, messages, and videos were harmful to the children I taught. Constantly seeing ten and eleven year-olds memorizing and singing explicit lyrics and then adopting the accompanying postures, I became a bit disenchanted with music.

The Event that Brought the Guitar into My Life

My feelings about music began to turn around the night a professor of mine invited me and a group of students to an acoustic open mic event. Performer after performer got up on stage and just . . . sang their hearts. From teens to folks in their sixties and seventies, from Christian pop to finger style to rock, the performances were just AMAZING. I remember being an audience member and thinking, “Wow. I really MISS having music in my life the way music is in their lives. I wish that were ME able to get up on stage and share a song like that.”

The final performer was a high schooler on an electric guitar, obviously a halting beginner but nevertheless so proud to have the support we were giving him. At the end of his performance, I made a decision: “I am going to give myself the chance to have that joy. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but no more passive consumption of music steered to me by companies. Time to play, create, share and be active again regarding the role of music in my life.”

Choosing Gibson’s Learn and Master Guitar

I did a lot of research before selecting Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar (GL&M G) instructional DVDs to start my journey. I couldn’t be happier with the decision.  The quality of the instruction and production is outstanding. Steve (the instructor) is great—knowledgeable, professional, warm, talented, and experienced as both a player and a teacher. The lesson sequencing and pacing make sense, and the instruction is designed to put the learner in the know about music, the guitar, and playing the guitar. Very important.

The availability of the GL&M G DVDs eliminated every possible barrier that I could have used to talk myself out of trying to learn the guitar:  The DVDs are economical and learning is self-paced, so I knew I’d have enough time and money available both to see instruction through to the end AND for purchasing gear. I knew that lessons wouldn’t be stressful or nerve-racking: No matter how long I stay on a session, I don’t feel like I’m losing money. No matter how many times I push rewind, I don’t feel like I’m annoying the instructor :) .  I really can’t express how grateful I am to Steve and his team for creating and offering the GL&M G DVDs.

acoustic Wecther guitar

How I’m Faring in the Course Thus Far

I am moving fairly slowly through the course, but that’s alright with me. (I’m having a blast!) At the time of this article’s posting, I have completed Session 3 and just started Session 4. I feel really comfortable with the notes on the first three strings and continue to work at improving my chording. And I have already given my first public performance!

The most challenging (and surprising) aspect of learning to play the guitar has been the physicality involved and required. I had no idea that it takes so much skill and muscle memory to play the guitar! If not for Steve’s gentle words of encouragement to keep plugging away at it and wait for the muscle memory to kick in, I’m sure my early inability to fret the C and G7 chords would have stopped me long ago. Slowly my hands are opening, though. I’m so glad that the process of practicing in itself is so much fun.

The Benefits: What I’m Enjoying Most about Learning to Play the Guitar

The best thing about this whole experience so far is that learning to play the guitar has me falling in love with music all over again. I’ve started researching bands and artists (Pandora online radio is a big help) and obtaining music again. I even attended the concert of the guitarist whose music inspires me most! And what an experience that was! This is a far cry from avoiding and complaining about what’s played on the radio.

My ultimate goal is to return to that open mic venue and accompany myself, perhaps singing “After Tonight” or “How Low” by the Justin Nozuka Band, “Purify Me” by India Arie, or “Tell Him” by Lauryn Hill. In the meantime, my goal is to keep guitar-playing in my life as play. While I’ve noticed that learning the guitar can be a tangible way to measure my patience, discipline, and time management, it’s really important to me to keep this journey fun. Steve’s recommendation to add a span of creative noodling at the end of each practice session makes so much sense to me.  Between the DVDs, the Live Sessions, and the wealth of supplemental advice, feedback, and resources shared via the forum and blogs, learning to play the guitar with the GL&M G resources has far surpassed all of my expectations. It’s really good to be becoming a guitarist!

You can follow along with MickeyOnAcoustic's progress on her student blog! Stop by and leave a comment for her.
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