Welcome to a new Monday post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including the importance of having some simple fun, thoughts on floatations tanks, and more
Here we go…
#1 – Simple fun
I replied to a student in the Fingerstyle 101 Facebook group the other day.
She is very new to the guitar and was talking about learning to strum lots of chords.
That’s a good thing to aim for…
…But one thing I wanted to share with her was the importance of doing one little thing.
That is, having fun with a simple chord or two while playing a simple fingerpicking pattern.
Chords such as E minor, A minor, or C Major 7 are all good ones to do this with. (You use a capo to make the chord easier to play too).
Many novices are under the impression that learning lots of chords is needed to succeed on the guitar.
Yet strumming chords you are not comfortable playing is not much fun.
On the flip side, when you have fun doing simple stuff that sounds lovely, it is motivating and enjoyable, and that is only a good thing.
It’s good to push yourself, but it’s also essential to have fun.
#2 – Floatation tank
The other day me and Emma went to a spa.
We booked an infrared sauna (I love saunas)
…And we tried something new to me – a floatation tank.
The floatation tank is a therapeutic tool.
The idea is that you get in a tank, pull down a lid to seal it, and then you lie down.
Beneath you, about a foot of special salted water fills up the tank, which you float on effortlessly.
Gradually everything goes pitch black.
You can’t hear anything, smell anything, or see anything – you can’t even see your own hand in front of you.
It’s sensory deprivation.
I hated it – at least at first.
My heart started racing, and I was itching to get out.
…But I did some deep breathing exercises and relaxed and settled into it.
After about 10 minutes, I started to enjoy it.
It was warm, quiet, and it even felt a little spiritual in some ways.
That sort of peace is something I get from the guitar a lot and no doubt you do too.
An interesting experience for sure and I thought I’d share this because it was only the breathing exercises that helped me stay in there and relax.
I’ve long been a huge believer in the power of breathing deeply.
In life, music, and with the guitar.
This was just another example (albeit a bizarre example) of how important breathing is.
If you get tense when you play guitar, I can’t recommend deep breathing exercises enough, even just for a minute or two.
It all helps.
#3 – That’s my jam
The other day I was watching some random TV.
There was a music quiz show on I’d never seen before.
It was called That’s My Jam.
The guests were musicians, such as Jason Derulo and Salt-N-Pepa.
There was one cool bit where Jason Derulo was given the task of singing the song “Baby Got Back”… in the style of musical theatre.
Now, in case you don’t know, that is a 90s rap song and sounds nothing like musical theatre.
It was good fun. There was a live band, tinkly piano, and orchestral parts.
To the naked eye, it looked like they just made it up on the spot.
…But that was definitely rehearsed. It sounded too good not to be.
The music world can be a little deceptive like that – and what appears to be improvised can often be rehearsed in one way or another.
Anyway, what I liked about the show was the creativity.
I’ve always been a fan of taking a song and making it totally different.
I remember hearing a really cool acoustic cover by a band called Travis in the 90s.
It was a cover of the Britney Spears tune “Baby One More Time”.
It’s good fun taking a random song and playing it in a new way.
You can fingerpick a rock tune, strum a smooth jazz tune, or turn a pop tune into a country ballad.
The possibilities are endless.
I’ve done this sort of thing a lot in bands over the years.
One way I enjoyed doing this for me and my students is with the classic tune, “Tom Dooley”.
That song is often strummed, but I love to play a fun Travis-picking version of it.
If you want, you can check that out below:
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed those three very random thoughts.
Have a great week
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.