Music in both theory and practice, is a supposedly bottomless pit of information. What I mean by this, is that the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know - the sheer volume of knowledge to take on is more than enough to put any musician off altogether. The reason I have chosen to begin my 3rd blog entry for Leigh Music Co. with such a statement, is owing to the fact that today’s topic of conversation is learning. Musical tuition is critical for a musician of any level, as you are always able to expand on your knowledge.
Personally, my education into music began as a infant. Throughout the late 90’s, my parents were immersed in ‘Acid Jazz’ - a genre where hip-hop and african inspired beats meet jazz harmony. Their love included artists from all over the globe - the Kyoto Jazz Massive (from Kyoto, it’s in the name); the Solsonics (from L.A) and even Poland’s own Novi Singers a capella group. I am certain that growing up in a household overflowing with Afro-Cuban jazz-funk hip-hop is bound to instil some kind of creative flair in you, right?
I first picked up a guitar at the tender age of 6, having saved up my pocket money (achieving a total sum of £26) to procure an instrument from world renowned guitar dealership, Argos. It was assumed by many people that, due to my track record, playing the guitar would be a short lived interest. By this point, I had already been through wanting to be an illustrator and an author, so guitar was most likely only going to last a short while. It turns out that this was correct, as after a year of 15 minute lessons by a drab and dreary teacher at my primary school, I dropped the guitar what seemed like for good and moved swiftly onto Karate (a classic combination).
It was not until I was 11 that I actually picked up the guitar again. My Grandfather was and is an accomplished bass/guitar player and so with the guarantee of a KFC bargain bucket (known as a buck’ ‘o chick’ by us at the time), I was coerced into some guitar lessons with Granddad. Little did I know the tricks that were up his sleeve, as when we began, I was presented with my first electric guitar. A black 1994 Squire Stratocaster with Custom Shop Texas Special pickups - the very guitar that my enthusiasm and adoration for playing music stemmed from. I left this guitar lesson with some new chords under my fingers and a new found intentness to become the world’s next Jimi Hendrix.
I signed myself up for musical tuition at the closest music shop and never looked back.
Let me bring this right up to 2017, 7 years later with my GCSEs and A Levels done and dusted, 12 guitars in my collection and guitar lessons 3 years behind me. As wonderful as this was, there was something about my playing that had changed since cutting my lessons short for GCSEs. I believe that ‘noodling’ is the proper expression for what was my practice style, where I spent hours on end playing mindlessly, with no intent in my playing whatsoever. For a while, I felt rather stuck in a proverbial rut, unable to move on from playing the same blues licks repeatedly. In order to rectify this problem, I chose to take up lessons at our very own Leigh Music Co. on Monday nights with Mark Brown. I have known Mark for a long time, first meeting him when I had only been playing for 6 months - I felt that if anybody would be able to refresh my guitar playing, then it would be him.
Almost instantaneously, I noticed a massive increase in satisfaction from my playing, like a new lease of life had taken over. Having been studying modes and scale positions with Mark, I suddenly felt that so much more of the fretboard was available to me in my lead playing and new licks and ideas were popping up left right and centre.
Those who have ben following this blog, will know that I have begun a Guitar Making Course at the Sir John Cass University in London. The class that I am taking part in, just happens to fall on a Monday night exactly when my lessons with Mark had been taking place. This means that for the second time, I had to cancel all future lessons for the time being. However, in the coming weeks, I will be learning guitar with another teacher at Leigh Music Co., who will be teaching me from another angle all together. James Maltby is an incredibly experienced Jazz musician for his age, having performed as venues such as Ronnie Scott’s several times by the age of just 22. I hope that in my lessons with James, I will be encouraged to explore Jazz more than I have before. But hey, who knows? I’ll keep you posted.
To summarise my aforementioned points, learning music is for everybody. It doesn't matter whether you have been playing piano for 50 years or if you have just bought your first guitar from Argos. Music is a magnificent way to express yourself and your personality, an ability that I believe everybody is entitled to. I can only hope that here at Leigh Music Co., we can supply the lessons and the teacher that is right for you.