"More Than Notes"

by Dillon Redding

This is just a little paper I wrote for Comp class at ANC explaining how playing the guitar has changed my life. Please feel free to critique me and give me some advice! Enjoy

                          "More Than Notes"

                           By: Dillon Redding

   Just as a poet must write, a musician must make music. Music can captivate you in which words cannot. Before I knew how to play guitar that statement would never have made sense to me. I thought music was a bunch of pretty little notes that seemed to sound pleasant when you put them together. What I didn't know was that music comes from the very soul of the artist and takes on a personality of its own. I had no idea an acoustic guitar would lead me on such a great journey. There was so much I was going to learn in the next 10 years, about life- -most importantly about myself. But how was I to know that there was so much happiness and self-fulfillment in playing guitar?

  Life before playing guitar was very bleak- -motionless and dull. I felt as if there was a missing "void" that couldn't be filled with merely anything. I yearned for something more than that, something with meaning and the sense of purpose- -a way to finally be truly happy. I was still very young, full of questions, and still trying to find my place in the world.

  This "void" started to appear when I was around the age of 9, but I didn't know how to address my problem. I couldn't explain in words what I was feeling. So, I did the only activity I was good at and kept my mouth shut, which was easy to do since I was extremely shy. Being shy led me not able to express my feelings which was a problem because I would just bottle all of these feelings I had hidden away and they would eat at me. My inability to speak in front of people that I didn't know was so bad that in classes, I would just sit sweating, nervous, and anxious praying that the kid in front of me was big enough to hide behind so the teacher wouldn't take notice of me and make me read aloud to the class or answer a question.

  The emptiness feeling continued until I was about 14. I still haven't found what I was looking for. The only thing I could do was just wait, wait until I found whatever I was searching for. They say good things come to those who wait, and I am a prime example, because one lazy afternoon, I saw a video with John Mayer playing a song named "Why Georgia" on his guitar. I was transfixed. After I had watched the entire video I sat amazed and pondered to myself, "Only if I could play guitar like that..." the simple thought of being able to play guitar like he did was exhilarating. Then something clicked. This is what I had been looking for! A way to express what I felt without really having to say it! I could just play what I felt and I could release all those feelings I had put back for so long. I knew I had to at least try, but I didn't have a guitar. This was a problem. So I did what any normal 14 year old would do and went to my mom. I knew this wouldn't be easy so I had to be smooth.

    "Hello beautiful!" I exclaimed, in my friendliest of voices.

    "What do you want this time?" She said, without missing a beat.

    Not the way I had planned this conversation would go but I had to run with it, I was at the point of no return, I had to ask now. I let out a deep sigh.

   "Oh nothing, I was just going to ask since I have been making good grades and all, that maybe you would buy me a guitar?"

   "Sure!" She replied, "Me and your father were actually talking the other day about getting you one for your birthday, but if you want it sooner we can go tomorrow."

   I was taken aback. That was not how I saw that conversation going, but I was too overwhelmed with happiness.

   "Tomorrow sounds good." I said casually, holding in a scream of excitement.

   "Now if we get you one I don't want that thing sitting around collecting dust." she stated.

   "Oh you don't have to worry about that." I said proudly, "I'm gonna play it all the time!"

   We finally get to the music store the next day, and I bee-line straight to the guitars. I grabbed one off the wall and sat down on the stool and just picked each string gently. Even though I had never held a guitar, let alone played one, something about the fine crafted instrument felt right. Since I didn't know what qualities mattered in picking out a guitar, I just picked one that looked the best and checked out.

   When I arrived home I went straight to my bedroom and started trying to play my new instrument. I was terrible. My playing sounded like cats fighting. And I didn't know the first step on playing. I was so eager to though, and I didn't want to go through all the boring beginner steps. I wanted to just be amazing and play whatever I wanted to instantly. Sadly music doesn't work like that. I had to accept the fact that this was going to take a long time and that I needed to be patient. So I got on my computer and learned the G-chord. Getting my hands into the G shape was painful and uncomfortable, but after I strummed my first chord I knew that everything about it was right. Creating such a simple sound brought so much self-fulfillment.

   Finally after about a year of learning, my playing had become easy to listen to, getting my hands into the right position wasn't painful, and I could finally play comfortably. Now it was easy for me to fill that void I had been so desperately wanted filled. I realized that any time I was ever depressed or upset about something, I could go straight to my guitar and just play, and allow myself to overcome and forget those overwhelming emotions, hearing each note ring out to create that perfect sound you wanted, feeling every tactile sensation as you play on the silver-plated strings, it's all so perfect. Also, I no longer felt shy around others because that burden had been lifted.

   I have learned so much about myself by listening and watching other artists perform their music and figuring out how to play what they are playing. The harder the tune the more fulfilling it is, and you realize that the more you conquer harder obstacles, the more easier everything else gets in life.

   It's been 5 years since I first picked up my guitar, and playing now still feels as new as it was the day I first started. The beautiful part about playing music is that the more you know, the more you realize you don't know, which is very humbling. Music is infinite. The freedom you get when you play is unexplainable because there are no boundaries, you play what you feel.

   Life has been so much easier for me just by simply learning how to play. Today, I am a much more relaxed person, I don't tend to carry stress, and I am much more confident in what I do everyday.

   If I could give any piece of advice to anyone trying to fill that hole in their life would be don't give up looking for what makes you happy, stay strong through those hard times and you will be rewarded.

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