17 April 2011

Playing Guitar

Since we finished the ActiveMQ in Action book recently, I actually have some spare time now. So I've began to get back into playing guitar. I'm not especially talented, but I have always enjoyed strumming chords and playing rhythm guitar.

Every week, my girls take piano lessons from a friend whose husband taught them both kindergarten at a nearby Montessori school. The couple are both accomplished musicians and really enjoy teaching music. She plays guitar, piano and sings; he plays guitar and sings. We've seen them play together and they are very complimentary together. So recently I decided to take some guitar lessons from the husband while the wife teaches my girls piano.

It's funny to learn that collaboration means just as much in playing a musical instrument as it does in writing code. When I collaborate with others and actually write code with them, I tend to learn a lot more than when I just sit in a corner writing code. So far, the same is true for playing guitar. Sitting at home, playing by myself seems so much more limiting than playing even once a week with my friend. He has been a musician for many years, is very talented and is also a gifted teacher.

For many years now, when I'm solving problems with the work I do and I get stuck, I tend to grab my guitar to clear my mind. Playing for even just 5 or 10 minutes can help me see a problem more clearly. I know that taking a walk with my dogs would do the same thing, but I can't go out for multiple walks during the day. But I can quickly grab my guitar, play for a brief period of time and then get back to work. Oftentimes when I do this, I'm able to immediately solve a problem that I've been working on for a while.

Something I know about myself is that I enjoy constant learning. When I stop learning, I tend to lose interest in whatever I'm doing. Getting back into playing guitar and learning again is a breath of fresh air. I have known this for years, but it's nice to be reminded of it again.

Though I'm still playing on a cheap acoustic guitar I bought many years ago in college through Musician's Friend, I'm still having fun. But I'm realizing again why most people don't stick with guitar when they are first learning. Typically, cheap guitars are not easy to play. Your fingers begin to hurt and your hands can cramp rather quickly with a cheap guitar. I've simply been trying to play though this recently and it's starting to become a problem. So now I'm wondering about graduating to a nicer guitar that is easier to play. When something is easy to do, you tend to want to do it more often. Playing a nice Taylor guitar in a shop recently reminded me of this. Though I don't think I want to spend that kind of money, I do have something different in mind. More on that in a future post.

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