By Justin Tamminga
I teach guitar, bass and drums. I have a deep passion for music and teaching music. Music has been my friend, my therapist and a way to stay grounded and vibrant. I love that moment when one of my students’ “get it,” their eyes light up and they smile (or try to hide the smile and remain “cool”) while intently playing and FEELING the music. The point where they are feeling it is when I realize that it is going to stick and I feel honored to have given them something that will help them and bring them joy for a lifetime.
In my humble opinion, simply practicing and repeating a flurry of notes and chords so that you can build the muscle memory and be able to repeat the song perfectly with your eyes closed is not why we were given music. Music was given to us to add to the feelings and emotions we encounter on a daily basis. It is there for us to tap into to make us happy, to push us and inspire us. To help us experience deeper feelings that we may not even be comfortable with. We all have that song that makes us feel like we are going to cry. You either embrace it or run and turn it off - if you turned it off, next time embrace it and let yourself feel something. Don’t be afraid to feel.
Learning and playing music should be the same experience. Learn as much as you can. Challenge yourself to play more difficult parts but don’t forget to simply PLAY. Even if it is a simple chord progression or two notes.. If it is able to lift you away or make you feel anything, tap into it. Live in that moment for a bit. The best songs are the ones with the simplest arrangements. I encourage my students to practice the lesson we have been working on but to try to adapt it into their own style, find their own melodies and more importantly, have fun. I feel that this is how you can truly learn and understand music and the instrument you are playing. This way you are using music to it’s full potential and can contribute and connect to the world by sharing your own thoughts and feelings.