March 4, 2015 by rebelwithalabelmaker
Musical Everything lessons started up again today. Yessss. Technically, they are guitar lessons, but because I have the world’s most patient guitar teacher, he allows me to lead, which means they are also voice lessons, song leading lessons, lyric writing lessons, recording studio time, and theology discussions.
Me: I have found a work around for my total lack of rhythm. Watch this!
(I do a bunch of stuff with cup).
Me: I found cup percussion. And body percussion, which is not drumming it is DANCING so I don’t need a sense rhythm.
Guitar Teacher: Dancing involves a sense of rhythm.
Me (dubiously): Well, I guess it involves rhythm in your BODY, but that is not the same as rhythm in your BRAIN. Anybody can rhythm with their body.
Guitar Teacher: Okay.
Guitar teacher says “okay” a lot. Guitar teacher is insanely game for teaching anything, including “how do I make this sound more like sunshine” (triplets), “how do I make this sound like ‘amen’ from Church” (it’s hard to explain that one, but basically you have to suspend some stuff—possibly judgement—and then resolve it. It’s very metaphorical), and my personal go to, which is “how do I make this sound less like Jazz”.
Guitar teacher and I do not agree on what constitutes Jazz, because I think Jazz is a) anything I don’t like, b) anything “weird”, or c) any time I get too lazy to put my fingers in the right spot when I am making a chord.
Me: I changed one of the notes in the chord that was hard to reach. Now it is Jazz.
Guitar teacher does not believe that I cannot hear any difference between all that stuff he showed me from the youtube of old people playing notes wrong, and the thing I do when I don’t want to try to make my fingers do the whole thing of B minor.
Guitar teacher: Really? Really?
Me: Sometimes, Gary is making that face after I say stuff, he finds it helpful to count quietly in his head for a minute.
Okay, that last part I did not say out loud. Because I don’t think guitar teacher was actually annoyed—he is just from New York. I have lived all my life in Saskatchewan, which is culturally not a very emotionally animated place. Except for, you know, me. Visiting New York was so much fun because when I am there, people do not back up when I am talking.
But back to today’s percussion and flash mob choreography lesson.
Me: So, I can make cup rhythms for anything I want? And body percussion? And I can bring them and you will tell me if they are right. Like, you will tell me if the song is 4/4 and my cup rhythm is 5/4.
Guitar teacher: That’s not likely to happen. When it comes to percussion, pretty much if you can do it, it will be right.
Me: Everything I do will be right? Best lesson ever.
(I think he was referring to my obvious talent).
Guitar teacher: You keep referring to musical talent like it is one thing that a person has or doesn’t has. It’s not like that—there are so many parts. There’s rhythm, and there’s whether you can carry a tune, and then there’s your vocal range, as well as what your voice sounds like, and—
It’s like in preaching, I think. You can be very good at telling a story in a way that is entertaining, for example, but then not good at having a point. Or remembering to say “Exegesis” enough times. This is why I fit in better at drunk parties than at seminary.
Guitar teacher is right about context. We tend to think of ourselves as “good” or “not good”. But there are so many parts to being good, and then beyond that, there is so much context to take into consideration. When I was in school, everything about me was “not good”. I was too distractible, I did not follow directions, I was too enthusiastic, too creative…
Now I get asked “how do you come up with all that creative stuff?”. Having spent all my life putting every last ounce of energy into learning not to creative all over everyone, I’m not even sure how to answer.
My friend Anne once said “You know, when we tell a child they’re being good? We don’t really mean it. The phrase ‘you’re being so good’ has nothing to do with actually goodness. It means ‘you’re being convenient’. Good and convenient are not the same thing.”
My friend Anne is not always well behaved.
Later this week I am, believe it or not, going to be the guest on the podcast “I guess we’re grown ups now”. Apparently, nobody told the host that I cannot adult. She warned me that she always ends with two questions: What is the worst part of being a grown up, and what is the best part of being a grown up.
I think the best part is how we get to choose our contexts. We get to find a place to fit in where the best parts of us matter, and the worst parts can be made irrelevant.
I am not a wrong note anymore. I am “Jazz”.