Got skills?

My Saturday was AWESOME! It started out with me attending a free guitar skills workshop at West Music. The workshop was aimed at promoting a recently released book and DVD entitled "Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators" by Peter Meyer, Jessica De Villers and Erin Ebnet.

The workshop was designed for beginners and I questioned my wisdom of driving an hour and a half on a Saturday morning to be at the workshop which started at 1000. To be honest, one of my motives was to check out their product. You see, when I was an undergrad, I got the idea to write a book on guitar skills for music therapists. I noticed that my class mates were taking one semester of guitar class and then expected to pass a proficiency exam. This method left them woefully under-equipped to use guitar effectively in a clinical setting. There are too many intricacies that cannot possibly be taught in a semester long class.

So I wanted to see how these music therapists approached an idea that I have been mulling over for years.

The other motivation for me going comes from my martial arts background. I learned a valuable lesson from Grandmaster Rudy Timmerman about how he approaches learning. He says that he always carries a white belt in his workout bag (in most martial arts the white belt signifies a complete beginner). If he goes to another school to visit and learn, he puts on the white belt and stands in the back of the room (also an expression of beginning rank). This man is a well-respected martial artist with 60 years of experience. If this mindset works for him, it works for me! I started carrying a white belt in my bag too.

I went to that workshop, with almost 20 years of experience playing the guitar and the openness and enthusiasm of a beginner.

I was not disappointed.

The workshop, for me, highlighted some of the technical knowledge deficiencies I've had for years. It was a strange combination of feeling discouraged by what I don't know considering my years of experience and feeling excited to devour the material to correct some of those technical knowledge issues.

From a quick perusal of the book, which I did end up purchasing, I think I could safely say that I would recommend it to any beginning to intermediate guitar player. It does have parts that are geared toward music therapists, but music educators would not go wrong with this book. I will post a complete review when I've had some time to work with this excellent book.

My Saturday evening was amazing too. My beloveds and one of our daughters went to a belly dancing show a couple of hours away from where we live. My beloveds are taking a belly dancing class right now, and for me the appeal (besides the fact that it is belly dancing...I'm a guy, I mean, come on!) is the drumming involved. The show was the culmination of a day's worth of workshops hosted by a local winery. We shared a bottle of wine and enjoyed the baked potato bar dinner offered before the show started. There was also a presentation by a group learning pole dancing. Their part of the show was tasteful and highly athletic. I enjoyed all the performances spotlighting different styles of belly dancing and many beautiful women of all shapes and sizes. I say this because one of my beloveds has dealt with an eating disorder for years. It is important for her to hear that size doesn't matter as long as she is healthy. Some of the most attractive dancers at the show to me were not the most petite and lean ones.

Beauty is not measured by the size of one's dress, but from the radiance of their soul. You can quote me on that.

The last performances of the evening included two doumbek (Middle Eastern drum traditionally used to provide belly dancing accompaniment) players. I have been obsessed with learning doumbek for quite a while now but have not yet manifested an instrument or instructional materials. After the show, one of my beloveds asked the drummers if there was another drum that I could play and I think her say that I was a musician and could play anything . She went and picked up a spare doumbek and handed it to me. As the drummers and a couple of the dancers were jamming after the show, I tried to follow along. A few months back I bought a riq (Middle Eastern tambourine) and have been starting to learn the 50+ traditional rhythms that go along with riq and doumbek playing. During a pause, the drummer next to me asked what kinds of things I know. I told her this was the first time I had ever touched a doumbek (although come to think of it, I've played them at drum circles, though they were Turkish style as opposed to Egyptian style which is what I played after the show, and I never learned proper technique). She patiently and expertly taught me some basic techniques and rhythms. I explained I was learning riq but hadn't gained proficiency with the rhythms yet. She commented several times how quickly I was picking up on things (yay me!).

The lessons and jamming did not last long, but for me it was the best part of the evening.

A full day of music and inspiration that truly fed my soul.