Sunday, June 10, 2012

Four Cords and a Broken Heart

Maybe you will learn good technique only after you have a good reason

I have a friend who wanted to play the guitar well enough to sit and play at a campfire.  He started taking lessons at the music store where he had bought his $70-guitar.  His teacher did not understand his willingness to be a just-good-enough-for-the-campfire guitarist.  Eventually, my friend quit the guitar lessons.  Three years later after his girlfriend left him for another man, he picked up his guitar once again and started to sing.  That guitar nursed him through his depression.  He wrote a lot of really terrible blues tunes that would make any drunk man cry.  My friend only needed four cords and a broken heart to play his guitar, but as a result, he eventually became pretty good.  He still plays and sings with friends and for himself.

Tango needs the same thing as a start -- a broken heart and four cords.  It doesn't need technique like some obsessive compulsive tango enthusiasts would suggest.  There's no reason to argue with them about this because they are correct -- one needs technique sooner or later to truly enjoy tango and most importantly to help your partner enjoy dancing with you.  But in order to get to that place, you only need to pour your soul into this dance and allow the technique to come through the back door.

I think I am qualified to say not to worry about technique because I have had a life of the pursuit of technical excellence in many different areas.  I do not suggest my path:  In my early 20's, I traveled far, even hitchhiking on a freight train to take lessons from a drum teacher who had his students work hard on technique for years before revealing the "really cool stuff."

You may not be that dedicated to technical excellence.  Good for you.  What I have sometimes done has been really over-board and even dangerous in the case of hitchhiking on a train.  Come to technique in your own way.  It may be that four cords and a broken heart is the most reasonable path.

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1 comment:

  1. Mark,

    I love this post, so very human in what it conveys. You might have used words, but your heart is speaking here.
    "Four cords and a broken heart" just love it, it ssems enough to carry us through life.


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