Having the opportunity to travel the world with a guitar in one hand and a camera in the other, I often share with readers my experiences as a musician and a tourist. I’ve always said that a musical tour would not be complete without some time taken out to enjoy the sights, sounds, and cultures of regions within and outside my own homeland.

As I’ve often mentioned, the musical questions I’ve been asked by other players appear to be truly universal with pretty much the same kind of inquiries. Strings, woods, effects, pickups and microphones, the world of recording, performance tips, and the art of the composition are always consistent hot topics.

Recently, I’ve been intrigued with exploring the actual process of the sharing of information between student and teacher or player to player. A question I’ve been asking myself deals with what really goes on when someone attempts to memorize an entire piece of music accurately and how does the teacher actually teach this mysterious method of absorption and retention.

It is about convincing the “learner” that playing an instrument can often be a solo journey and not to treat the teacher as a crutch or sole source of inspiration, but as a propellant for firing up that musical torch. I have to remind myself about this solitary journey as I pick and choose which tune to navigate through, map out, and commit to memory. As both a student and a teacher, I must stay ever vigilante and not let any gem of a tune slip through the cracks and drift away by skipping over the difficult parts, settling for playing that is almost close instead of exactly what the composer intended, or by simply giving up. The memorization process is a winding road that I navigate through very slowly, note by note at first, then measure by measure until the tune begins to come together.

The art of teaching, learning, selecting the music to teach or learn, learning by teaching, and teaching by learning might sound like the root of a tricky tongue twister. But the relationship between the student and teacher – and the tune – is just the fuel that keeps the torch lit and provides the flame for lighting the next one.

 

Originally posted 2010-11-11 02:25:41.