Rockin’ out

Posted April 25, 2008 by smacdown
Categories: Life, Music

I’ve been bitten by the guitar bug again. The first time I was 11. I took lessons for about a year with a mini acoustic guitar. I was a little young to appreciate it, so I quit. In retrospect I really, REALLY wish I stuck it out. I played alto sexamaphone in grade 8/9. After that, I didn’t touch an instrument for several years.

I started messing around with an acoustic guitar again in 3rd year University. I don’t recall exactly what made me pick it up again, but I tinkered with it for a year or so. I found it a lot more fun the second time around for two reasons.

One, when I was 11, I rarely listened to music. My only exposure was 50/60’s stuff my Dad used to listen to while we worked on his Mustang. In university my musical eyes were opened as I started listening to a lot of freely available music. Loving a song and then learning how to play it is a lot of fun, and especially exhilarating when you can actually make it sound like the real thing!

Two, the internet is a great tool for learning. Back in the day, I had to get my instructor to write out tabs for me. In 2001, tabs were all over the internet. I could get decent tabs for all the songs I liked to play. That ability made it easy for met to keep interested.

There were also a few reasons why I think I stopped playing. The guitar I was playing was pretty shitty and made it difficult to play bar cords, etc, and I didn’t have any money to buy a better one. I also liked rock songs with heavy electric guitars and cool riffs and solos. All of these sound like crap on an acoustic guitar. Lastly, I have shitty rhythm. I could mechanically play all the cords and notes, but couldn’t get the timing right just by listening to the original mp3s.

I think I may have found a solution to most of my previous problems. I just bought a sweet electric guitar.

Yamaha AES920

This eliminates both the shitty guitar problem, and the fact that all the songs I like sound lame on an acoustic. The last part of the equation came by surprise. Apparently it’s the age of video on the internet. As I was cruising around guitar tab sites, I found a bunch of tutorial videos…something that didn’t exist back in 2001! So, now I can figure out the song mechanics from the tabs, and use the video tutorials to get a better understanding of the timing and strumming patterns. W00t!

Eventually I’d like to take some music theory lessons so I can understand what going on under the covers a bit better. As it stands, I just play what I’m told.

I’m going to keep a list of the songs I learn, what I want to learn, and what I know how to play here.

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Tell your Kids

Posted April 25, 2008 by smacdown
Categories: Lessons Learned

A recent conversation about parenthood spurred me to analyze my thoughts on becoming a daddy some day. How I perceived fatherhood has changed a bit as I’ve grown older. When I was:

<10 years old: Damn, I can’t find my G.I. Joes!

10-17 years old: Definitely want kids. I’ll have 2. I figure I’ll have them when I’m 30ish, I’ll be married by then after all.

18-22 years old: Partying too much to re-evaluate, but my mind hasn’t changed much. Had a few lady friends who said they didn’t want to have kids. I had trouble comprehending that and figured they’d change their mind later in life.

23-25 years old: I’m working, don’t bug me with stuff that’s so far away! I’ve discovered traveling, and a lot of other fun things, so maybe I’ll postpone the kid thing for awhile. A lot of my older friends have had kids, they’re a lot of work! Is 40 too late?

25-28 years old: Holly shit, my 15 year old self says I should probably be married by now, or pretty damn close to it! WTF is going on here? I was supposed to be rich and retired by the time I was 25! I definitely want kids, just not sure when exactly.

Bottom line, my whole life I’ve always wanted kids, it’s just been a matter of when. Perhaps this whole preconceived notion of how your life is going to turn out is a bad thing…but that’s a topic for another time.

I want to be a good parent some day, and often think about what is needed to achieve that. My main source of parenting lessons would obviously come from my own parents. All parents have strengths and weaknesses. Although I haven’t asked mine, I assume most parents try to replicate all the things they liked about their own parents, and do the exact opposite of the things they didn’t like. Sounds reasonable, although I’m sure if you don’t make an effort, all parents turn into carbon copies of their own parents. In my case that wouldn’t be so bad, but I’d like to make a few adjustments here and there.

Whenever I think of something I would like my kids to know or concepts I want them to understand, I’m going to try to blog about it under the category “Lessons Learned”.

Lesson #1: Don’t work to retire. I’m advocating The Centenarian approach to life and career. What are you going to do when you retire? Asking “what would you do if you won the lottery” is basically the same question with an accelerated time frame. I don’t think most people can answer that question very well, I know I can’t. Many have a vague idea of what they would want their life to be like, but it never seems very fulfilling. I want a mansion, a Ferrari, to travel, to sleep in every day. It all sounds good…but only for awhile. Nobody thinks about the consequences of achieving your goals. Achieving a goal is like suddenly eliminating the thrill of the chase. You’ve essentially just removed purpose from your life. I will tell my kids to plan to work as long as they physically can. The key: make your job something you look forward to.

UPDATE: Matt Good posted a good post related to this lesson as well

Lesson #2: Be a magnet. If you don’t like where you are, turn around and let yourself be pushed in the opposite direction. If you stumble upon something that makes you happy, face it head on and let it pull you in. Don’t get stuck following the status quo. Only normal people are happy with the status quo. Nobody’s normal. I will tell my kids to listen to their gut, it’s always right.