Now that I am in the throes of working in another “new” guitarist to play alongside me in my band, I can’t help but take note of his unique way of learning, which in turn makes me think also of how others learn. Everyone certainly has their own patterns of learning songs, licks, ideas and arrangements, and there’s no question that each way of learning is literally as unique as the individual themself!
Even though someone such as myself has a very intuitive way of approaching learning and memorizing things, there is still obviously a large amount of natural, mathematical and other kinds of processes that go into the accumulation of knowledge necessary for musical learning. We all have our own approach, and it’s something that not only is established at a very young age, but it pertains to how we learn other things too, which are not necessarily musical. The musical/artistic mind has its own way of acquiring knowledge, and I am convinced that we who have this kind of “makeup” are definitely more apt to learn in an “ear-induced” way, and we can absorb things in an “associative” way, and many times need only the sounds themselves to remind us of what is coming next.
I can still recall when listening to music of my early years, how certain songs and sounds played key pivotal roles in making up who I am, and especially how I learned. Some of those tones and notes of yesteryear certainly stay with us, and deep down inside, they are the very things we rely on in a very intuitive and primal way. After all, music is a very primal exercise in being human, and human beings were making music long, long before anyone decided it should be written down in the form of notes. The notes were simply the earliest form of recording!
The guitarist I’m working with currently seems extremely intuitive and certainly is, but what I like is his ability to bang out very exacting “charts” that he can fall back on, should he forget a bit here and there in a song. This is important, since I am literally “throwing” at him at least 30songs that he has to know by Thursday, and he wants to put his best foot forward and really be prepared. This is a sign of a true professional, and he doesn’t want to leave anything to “chance”, because “chance” can mean “wrong!”
I remember during my days of playing with countless singer/songwriters, how I was able to understand their songs in various categories. I would take note of their tendencies, and the minute I’d hear them launch into a new song, and it was in one of those categories, I swear I could almost always predict what all the changes would be! We all have our natural tendencies, and I’m sure, if he’s really listening, which he really is, my new 2nd guitar player has already noticed mine and hopefully, he’ll be able to utilize this technique in helping him learn all my material!