6 weeks ago I was a closet guitarist.
I grew up loving music, but was not what I would describe as musical, so rather than being a player I was a listener with 100’s of CD’s, music magazines and attendances at gigs seeing as many bands as I could muster.
I admit I was quite in love with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and in my 20’s played guitar on and off, never progressing very far as I gave up in frustration at trying to teach myself from books and audio CD’s. With guitar lessons a few years later I had gotten the basics down and even passed a couple of music exams but would still have classed myself as a beginner.
Moving to Australia 16 years ago bringing my guitars with me, I never felt compelled to play them and rather than have them languishing in the corner collecting dust I sold them online. And that I believed was that; the end of my rock star aspirations . . . until recently that is.
My son is very musical and by age 6 was having piano and guitar lessons – and well that was it, seeing his enjoyment made me want to play again, so I started having guitar lessons two years ago.
After a 15-year break it was like being a beginner again, yes I remembered some chords and techniques but putting them together required patience and practice and being able to really tune in to my body.
What struck me was I could play the pieces quite well at home yet when it came time to play in my lesson I would be struck with anxiety and would mess it up playing below par, as I was painfully aware if feeling judged by my teacher. I swapped teachers soon after that and now have one who is very supportive and encouraging which has helped me let go of the need to be perfect and hence the anxiety.
Watching Michael Benhayon of Glorious music play has also inspired me. Michael is self-taught, playing in a way that is not about him being the star or wallowing in emotional angst, his music carries depth and meaning and the quality that comes with it that allows you to simply be who you are.
Anyway back to the start of this story . . . 6 weeks ago I was a closet guitarist. I had never played in front of anyone but my family and my teacher and the thought of playing for anyone else brought me out in a heart racing cold sweat. It was time to come out so I attended a local jam session held with a view to form bands that would put on a gig at the end of November.
Now bear in mind this was a huge leap of faith, as I have never played in a band, with other musicians or even standing up!
So I found myself in a bar with a music stage with over 25 complete strangers, who all looked as nervous as I was feeling. When I got chatting to them it was obvious they had way more experience than me and I must admit I was more than a little tense by this point and wondering what I’d let myself in for.
Randomly people formed ‘bands’ on stage, picking from the songbook to play a couple of numbers. The first band played really well and I was heading for the door, when I thought why not give it a go you’re here now. So when the time came around I took my turn and you know what the moment I stood on stage my nerves left and I felt very at ease. Although I didn’t know the songs and was making up some of the chords it sounded pretty good. As the evening panned out I ended up playing 3 sets and had an absolute hoot getting to know people and jamming together.
What followed was 4 intense weeks getting to know and play with my new band mates, learning 12 songs, which I taught myself with the help of YouTube and my music teacher, 4 weekly rehearsals of 2 hours in proper recording studios with a music coach and great support from the rest of my band and my family.
As the night of the big gig approached I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick and anxious, guitar chords running through my head and all the songs muddled up. Terrified I would mess up, freeze or let the band down, I simply reminded myself this was about getting out of my comfort zone and having some fun on the way.
The day of the gig arrives and I am like a cat on a hot tin roof, last minute practice, checking my strings, packing and repacking my kit several times. I could hardly eat and felt dreadful – what was I thinking? Too late to back out now!
When the time came to leave for the gig and I felt myself drop into my body as my nerves and anxiousness melted away, my whole being became calm and I felt totally at ease knowing this was exactly what I needed to be doing and that everything would be just perfect.
It’s our turn to play, I remember standing on stage, guitar on shoulder, bright lights shining in my eyes and a microphone in my face. Knowing I had the support of friends and family in the crowd I struck the first chord of the opening number, my guitar rang loud and clear through the amps and we rocked out our 45 minute set, hardly missing a beat and enjoying every moment of it.
In what seemed like a matter of minutes the crowd where cheering and asking for more and I couldn’t wait to do it all over again . . . No more closet guitarist for me . . .
As a teenager I would dream of playing guitar with my favourite bands and last night my dream came true when I was asked to come up on stage and jam along with Michael Benhayon and Road Gloria at the Universal Medicine end of year celebration in front of 100’s of my friends both in the building and on broadcast live via webcast all over the world. Rock ‘n’ Roll!