Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Mentor or To Be Mentored

I’ve written recently about having the opportunity to do jam sessions with other players. Since these guys are experienced musicians I’m learning a lot. I had the tables turned on me recently and was in the position of being the more experienced player. I found you can learn a lot that way too.

We had friends over for dinner and one of their kids was a beginning guitar player. Since I’m looking for any chance possible to play with others I suggested we get the guitars out and make some music. I found out that is easier said than done.

My initial thought was we’d do something like in the recent jam sessions I was in, basically trade solos and rhythm back and forth. It was apparent though that he was not far enough along where that would work. His exposure was learning to read music note by note rather than on chords and scale forms like I was taught. I was beginning to panic and then I thought in terms of reverse engineering how I was mentored by experienced guitarists.

Since they figured out how to pick material that adapted to my skill level I tried the same approach. We ended up picking a song out of his lesson book he could do and I accompanied him on rhythm. I then showed him a simple blues progression and outlined what sorts of notes he could play over it. For me it reinforced what I already knew and highlighted areas I need to learn more about.

Turns out you can learn as much mentoring as being mentored.

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