In the process of encouraging my kids through some tough moments in our homeschooling music practice today, I came across these videos on YouTube.
My goal was to teach the kids how every honest musician knows that even the best guitarists struggle if they don’t practice, or refuse to really hear what they’re playing, and sing it back, no matter how horrible they think their voice is.
I liked the Ace Frehley (KISS lead guitarist) vid. when he half seriously confessed, “You know, no one ever taught me how to play, so I really don’t know what I’m doing. Even to this day, I’m still like; I’m just winging it.” I literally laughed out loud at this, with my kids looking at me wondering what they’d missed. This was the honesty part of the lesson. Frehley introduces his signature “dinosaur bend”, gives some tips on palm muting, and shows that he doesn’t take himself, or his fame too seriously.
Next up was Ken Tamplin’s analysis of Skid Row’s live performance of ‘I Remember You’, when they still had Sebastian Bach at the helm. Tamplin is a legend in the Christian metal scene. The big surprise here was me finding out that has a Youtube channel. However, I wasn’t all that surprised with his conclusion on Bach’s vocals, the FX Bach uses, or the ego issues some of the great rock vocalists have. This was the, even-the-best-need-help; so be confident in your abilities, but remember not to be too confident in your abilities, part of the lesson.
Finally, and probably the best of the three, was Nikki Sixx’s (Motlery Crue’s bassist) interview Phil Collen, giving a quick rundown of some of his guitar work with Def Leppard. Collen’s creative use of sound with guitar track layering are second to none. He even admits that the way the band recorded ‘Love Bites’ made it hard to pull off live on stage.
Collen reinforced some of my teaching points about practice, and vocalising riffs, stating, “I think we guitar solos and riffs, you gotta to be able to sing them, even with drum parts, you know Phil Collins, ‘In the Air Tonight’, we all air drum it, that’s what got me hooked.” He also gives props to the difficulty of ‘Every Breath you Take’ (The Police). Collen played it well, but stumbled through the intro, saying, “I wouldn’t want to play that live, it’s a struggle”, showing that even the best in the music industry have their limits. This was the no-one-has-it-all-down-perfectly part of the lesson.
The bottom line: There’s no such thing as a perfect musician, but practice, and humility, can perfect musical ability.
‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ – Luke 14:11, ESV