Friday, May 07, 2010

Music - Learning Guitar

My Dad is taking guitar lessons, and it's extremely cool.

I think he's always wanted to play, or at least ever since I started taking lessons in 7th grade or so - and on the same guitar he's using for his lessons now.

The thing that got me thinking about this, was a phone conversation the other day about chords and chord changes from his latest lesson. He was telling me that a particular finger doesn't move during the change from one chord to another, and I couldn't figure out how that was possible, because all of my fingers move when making that particular change.
I grabbed a guitar and tried to find another form of the initial chord that would let me leave a finger stationary ... I found one, but it's certainly not any way I've ever played that chord before.

As I said to him once I found that currently-uncomfortable chord position, his lessons may be good for my playing.

That got me thinking about learning and teaching in general. I've often heard it said (I've said it myself, for that matter) that teaching something to someone is a great way to learn it better, and this brought it home once again.

Think about something that you learned a long time ago, and that you do well and fairly often now.
If you had to explain to someone who didn't know how just what you're doing to to do that, could you? It's like the question he asked his teacher about chord changes. "How do you know which one to go to next?" The easy answer is that after you do it for a long time, you just kind of know, but that's not very helpful. You've just told your student that he's in for a long time of frustration, or you've told him that you can't really explain the stuff he wants to know.

Either way, you haven't enhanced that teacher/student relationship - and you haven't helped your student to grow. That's the hard part of teaching - you have to constantly examine how you do things, not just do them.

Oh, and that can be the fun part too.

Here's your challenge: teach someone something today that really makes you think about how you do it.
I know, your head may hurt for a moment, but you'll suddenly find a new aspect of something you thought you knew thoroughly, and you'll be as much richer for it as your student.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

RIP Ernie Harwell

We all knew it was coming, and we've likely never known anyone who was actually so ready for it, but death is always a shock no matter what.

The one time I met Ernie, I could tell that he was just as cool as we thought he was from listening to him on the radio (I miss the Tigers on WJR, and I'm not even a baseball fan); he was a genuinely nice, kind gentleman.

I do have one (continuing) regret related to Ernie. He had some kind of connection with our church, and every year as I started the planning for the Lenten Devotion book, I thought that I should send Ernie a letter and ask for a bit of devotional writing from him - but I never did. Now I never will.

Still, I know that Ernie is in Heaven (and I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean he's in an Iowa cornfield with a bunch of dead baseball players), and he's happy. No, happy wouldn't be the half of it - Joy is the serious business of Heaven, and Ernie was always good at Joy.

He'll be missed.

Oh, and it's time to add to the name at Comerica Park: Harwell Field at Comerica Park has a wonderful ring, don't you think?