Last March I wondered to myself if I could still memorize enough material to be able to pull together a show that people would pay to see. I started where most people do, on the Internet. I researched the most popular acoustic guitar songs and started to compile a list. Over the course of the spring, summer and fall, I worked on the list and started practising with my cousin.
40+ songs later, things are really starting to come together. That said, my play list is composed primarily of those 40 songs. I listen to them in the car on the way to work, on the drive home, at my desk during the day and practice them for 10+ hours every week.
An unexpected side effect of all of this practise is a remarkable increase in my ability to recall other things. I seem to have memorized the page numbers and content of my lab book and can find things without looking in the index. The time that it takes to learn a new song has decreased significantly and my listening skills have improved.
I have always been able to tune my guitar by ear, but now I can sing a song and pick out chord transitions by ear. This means I no longer have to memorize chords, I just learn the tune and the words and I can play the song. I can pick out a key by ear and recognize a poorly tabbed song when I play it for the first time. In the past I have encountered talented musicians that could not read music or tab and I wondered how they were able to do that. I thought that it must be difficult for them, but in actual fact I think it is easier.
The process kind of highlights that although we have structured ways for learning, our ways may not always be the best ways to solve problems. The human condition never ceases to amaze me.
Bad notes and chords have always hurt me a bit and made me cringe, and I’d like to be able to tell you that I have developed a new tolerance for that, but unfortunately the opposite has happened.
I guess ear plugs may be in my future.