Hey, here's a question for you. How many total notes are there in music? I've heard a lot of interesting answers to this question from students coming in for their first lesson.
One young student said he thought the number of notes was "endless." The answer: There are 12. Only 12!
I've been a musician for a long time and that still kind of amazes me. Think of all the music you've heard in your life. Symphonies, Beatles songs, film scores, operas... Twelve notes.
Those of us lucky enough to be guitarists have the ability to play more than one note at the same time, called a chord. A chord is a combination of three or more notes sounded simultaneously. Now, did you know that many of the most popular songs of all time are made up of only three or four chords? It's true. "La Bamba," "Louie/Louie," "Brown Eyed Girl," "Knockin on Heaven's Door," "Twist and Shout,"... all three or four chords.
So, guess what? If you grab a guitar and learn how to strum a few chords, you can be playing some of the most popular songs in a very short time. Now that's really cool.
In my last article I mentioned some of the many rewards people experience when they learn to play a musical instrument.
However, many people think they would have to achieve a certain level of expertise if they decided to learn how to play an instrument. It is true that if you want to play like Eric Clapton you've got some serious practicing to do, But guess what? Learning to play just a few beautiful notes qualifies as making music. Learning three chords on a guitar and playing a blues progression also qualifies. And it's really fun! So, unless your goal is to be a professional musician, there doesn't have to be any pressure or stress regarding learning to play music.
Your goal can be to just have fun. One of the greatest rewards for me as a guitar teacher is to see the joy a new student feels when they start to make musical sounds on their instrument.
Speaking of students, I thought I would interview some of my students and share their thoughts with you in some of my articles. This interview is with Garrett Gordon, aka "G," who is 11 years old.
Me: Hey G, what are some of the positive things about becoming a musician?
G: I just feel really good about myself that I can achieve playing an instrument and be successful at it.
Me: Has learning to play the guitar affected any other areas of your life?
G: My family is real proud of me.
Me: What is one of the coolest things you've done as a guitar player?
G: Well, I wanted to run for student council president, and there were way more girls voting than boys, so I knew just a speech wouldn't cut it. I was listening to "Twist and Shout," by the Beatles, and I thought I could change the words to be my campaign song. After my next lesson I was playing it just like John Lennon. I gave a speech and played the song at school.
Me: What happened?
G: I won the election, and I think by a lot.
Me: Cool. Thanks for the interview.
• Resident Mike Haasis teaches guitar classes in Ahwatukee Foothills at Dry Creek Guitar Studio. Reach him at (480) 759-1025 or drycreekguitarstudio.com.