Zen Guitarism Applied to Everyday Life

What I love most about the guitar is its ability to create something big from relatively little. Unlike literature or painted art, audio physically surrounds the listener. It’s enveloping. And unlike other instruments like the piano, the guitar is unique in that the player has direct manipulation over the strings. New notes and sounds can be achieved via harmonics, slides and bends. You are truthfully the master of the universe that you create.

Rather than selling my soul to the Devil like Steve Vai’s character did in the movie Crossroads, I chose to do it the old-fashioned way like Ralph Macchio. (He is, after all, the Karate Kid.) And while running modal scales proved ultimately useless (I’m pretty sure I’ll never use Lydian), I did pick up a few philosophical lessons on playing and performing that I’ve been re-pondering hours before heading out to load for tonight’s gig at The New Parish.

So, here they are. Five life lessons that can be inferred from the guitar:

1.) Be Light As a Feather | Use the minimal amount of finger pressure while fretting to attain faster playing speed. It’s not how hard you press, it’s how efficiently you move.

2.) Find Your Balance | Relax and focus on what you’re doing now. Keep the future in mind but don’t wander too far or you might get lost.

3.) There Is No Wrong Way | Mistakes are only deviations from your desired path. Push through and don’t let these deviations bring you down or you’ll end up straying more. Don’t sweat the small stuff or you’ll end up drenched.

4.) Be Inspired | When it comes down to it, the goal of pursuing any artistic endeavor is to create something meaningful, expressive and aesthetically profound. Try and hold onto whatever it is that inspires you.

5.) Don’t Forget to Have Fun | Life is short, after all…