I know the instructions but I can’t play the game

When I was a child I was very good at playing the guitar. Well, that’s at least what everyone else believed except me. In the early 80’s I remember that two people were the best at guitar in the world. Oddly enough they were Charro then Eddie Van Halen. I idolized these guitar saints. I remember reading once that Charro (who was just know for saying “Couchie couchie coo” on TV and having big boobs) practiced guitar 8 hours a day. When I actually heard her play it was like music from heaven. I wanted to be that kind of guitarist. I was always the best musical student. I still hold it over my parents heads that they never paid a dollar for my training because in the 3 years that I took lessons I was always deemed by the music school to be the best and thus won their scholarship every year. I was also inspired to play guitar because of this girl at my school that could play great but graduated the year before I started.

Why, you may ask, do I think I wasn’t that good? The missing part of the story is my guitar teacher’s pleas. He was a great guitarist. I was very fortunate that I had him because he was in a very famous 70’s rock band as the backup guitarist and toured sometimes. Throughout my 3 years he would tell me that I learned my guitar very well. I practiced sometimes as long as 8 hours on the weekends. I bought sheet music of all the popular songs and I’d learn them and come back knowing them by Monday. I could play classical, rock, R&B, and Spanish at the drop of a hat. That was all great but I didn’t practice what he kept telling me to learn. My scales. He constantly told me that learning my scales would allow me to play by ear, make my own music, and improvise.

I never did get my scales down because I didn’t practice them enough. I knew the rules and instructions but I couldn’t play the game.

The same is true of so many people and so many things. College, for example, barely teaches our children the rules of many careers. I no longer just want to know the rules I always want to play the game. I learned this a long time ago.

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