Monday, October 31, 2011

Yes, Google Made Me Stupid, So I'm Learning to Play Wes Montgomery

In recent years, discussions on the potential effects the internet is having on our brains have become somewhat common.  I'm especially fond of Nicholas Carr's 2008 article Is Google Making Us Stupid, where he notes “I’m not thinking the way I used to think.”  To clarify, he adds,

“Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do.” 

I too have felt an unfortunate mental change brought on by the endless availability of non-linearly organized information the web provides.  However, in addition to a lower tolerance for deep reading, I’ve noticed my ability to focus on any plan or goal that requires more than a few minutes to accomplish has also diminished.

This lack of focus frightens me mainly because I’ve begun to question my ability to develop, maintain, and actualize long range plans for my life.  So, in order to re-strengthen that out of shape part of my brain, I’ve begun setting simple short term goals each month - goals that require focus and dedication beyond an hour or two to accomplish.

On of my challenges for the month of November is to finish learning the solo in Four on Six by Wes Montgomery.  Check out the clip below.

As you can see, Wes Montgomery is a ripping jazz guitarist.  He's also from Indianapolis, my hometown.  (We people from Indiana never resist the opportunity to trumpet the successes of our natives!) 

My boyfriend, also a guitar player, introduced me to this piece and it is the perfect challenge for a bluesy punk rock guitar player like me.  Learning these licks will improve my accuracy as a player and add to my musical vocabulary.  Moreover, while learning to play I spent little time perfecting the songs of others.  Rather, I culled the information required and began writing my own songs almost immediately.  While composing was always my biggest desire, I now see the value in gaining greater mastery as a player by challenging myself to play more difficult pieces.    

So, I began learning Four on Six over the summer.  But, as I said, I’ve had trouble focusing on things lately.  So, while I’ve already learned half the solo, I’m committing to learning the rest by the end of November.  The most difficult part is upon me, so this is more than a worthy challenge I think.    

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