Author: Campbell, Bruce

Gap Analysis

How many times has someone said to you “You know, I used to play an instrument!”. To that, I always say “Why did you stop?”

The answers vary. Sometimes, a physical ailment will force someone to quit playing music and what a shame that is. The more common explanation is, something in the person’s life pushed the music out of the way. If you’re 12 years old, and in demand as a baseball player, you might choose the activity and sunshine of sports over playing scales in the house. Perfectly understandable, but it begs the next question: “Why don’t you start playing again?”

I have met many people who are fine players who have interesting gaps in their musical lives. Some take a break for physical ailments (as I mentioned), some for life circumstances – it could be anything. Last weekend, I spent some time with a friend who was in my very first band, back in the early 1970’s. His family moved away in1975 and he drifted away from music, even as I was diving deeper. At this point, my friend doesn’t even own an instrument. Actually, he does now – I got a message from him last night that he just bought a guitar!

While he was out here, I got him involved in some jams, and while he was a little rusty, he pretty much picked up where he left off – and I think (I hope) we reignited his love of music. He has considerable talent, and I know he’ll get some enrichment out of using it. Plus, it’s a great way to meet girls!

I have another friend of prodigious talents who gave up music altogether for about 5 years. He said he was disgusted with the whole music scene and according to him, he didn’t pick up an instrument for the whole five years. To hear him, you’d think he has never stopped playing.

My point is, if you used to play and you’ve stopped for some reason, whether it’s for a week, a month, a year or a decade – or many decades – don’t stand forlorn on the sidelines, thinking you could never catch up. You think you’ve forgotten everything you knew, but strangely, you’ll find that your hands and fingers remember. You’ll be back up to whatever level you were at in an amazingly short time.

Interestingly enough, when I find myself hitting a plateau, playing-wise, I will put the instruments away for a week or so, and when I pick them up again, I usually find a way to make some sort of breakthrough. When you’re banging your ahead against a wall (musically, of course – don’t actually bang your head against a real wall, please), a brief respite will often reveal away through, or around, that wall.

Folks, the music MUST be played, and it might as well be YOU playing it!

Posted:  6/5/2013

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