Learning to play an instrument

Opinion | Tom Morello: The skies parted and my future was decided – The New York Times

Summary

I didn’t choose to be a guitar player. It chose me.

It was on an ordinary afternoon in the spring of ’83, my freshman year at Harvard, that I trudged down to a small basement rehearsal room between some vending machines and a foosball table. With the neon lights blazing overhead I was crunching power chords and wailing pedestrian solos when I unexpectedly slipped into a higher gear and felt a moment of transcendent improvisational bliss. The…….

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I didn’t choose to be a guitar player. It chose me.

It was on an ordinary afternoon in the spring of ’83, my freshman year at Harvard, that I trudged down to a small basement rehearsal room between some vending machines and a foosball table. With the neon lights blazing overhead I was crunching power chords and wailing pedestrian solos when I unexpectedly slipped into a higher gear and felt a moment of transcendent improvisational bliss. The skies parted and my future was decided.

I had received a calling. I had no choice in the matter. My other interests retreated. I would be a guitarist.

Now, my great-uncle Carlo did play violin for 40 years in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and my grandfather was a talented pianist, but here I was, clad in spandex, with the prison notebooks of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in one hand and a Gibson Explorer in the other, just another radical leftist heavy-metal dreamer in an honors major at an Ivy League school.

I started seriously playing late, at 17 years old. I had heard of only one guitarist who made records who began playing at such an advanced age. That was Robert Johnson, and he had to sell his soul to the devil to get good!

My Catholic upbringing precluded that option, and so there was only one way to fulfill my calling. Practice my ass off. First it was two hours a day, every day, without fail, noodling away in an empty campus stairwell. Then four hours, then six, then eight! Every day. Without fail. Fever of 102, exam in the morning. Eight hours. Not seven hours and 56 minutes.

Two hours technique, two hours music theory, two hours learning songs, two hours freestyle jamming along with my favorite metal songs.

I’ve often reflected on this maniacal, perhaps somewhat unhealthy, practice regimen. Perhaps in a world in which I felt I had control over very little in the way of romance and race relations, the guitar provided a clarity of purpose where my will, which was not lacking, would be the sole determiner of success or failure. And no one was going to stop me.

Once saddled with this calling, though, I had to figure out how to use the damn thing to great purpose.

I loved metal but it was silly. I loved punk but they couldn’t play their instruments very well. I loved the fledgling genre of hip-hop but those artists rarely used guitars.

And was it possible to combine revolutionary politics with screaming electric guitar? Was it possible to make my guitar a divining rod for truth? An Excalibur of righteous fury? Well I sure as hell wasn’t going to find out in Harvard Yard.

So after …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/11/10/opinion/tom-morello-guitarist.html