As musicians, and especially guitarists, the bedroom is our favourite place to make music. The term bedroom guitarist was born out of a surge of guitar enthusiasts practicing and jamming all day to themselves in the comforts and confines of their bedrooms.
Now, I’m guilty of this too, and to be honest there isn’t anything wrong with making music in your bedroom!
However, I’m all about helping you as guitarists become better musicians - and to become a great musician, unfortunately you and your guitar cannot stay cooped up in your bedroom forever.
The Dangers of Hiding in Your Bedroom
Of course I’m using the bedroom scenario as both a literal and metaphorical one - what I’ll be sharing applies to any room or situation that you play guitar by youself.
If we do not make music with anyone else, we miss out on so many opportunities to learn unique skills that can only be gained from live musical interaction. The most crucial of these skills is… LISTENING!
Yes, listening. And I don’t mean listening to spotify together, I mean listening intently to what your musical partner is playing and adapting, responding, and communicating in real time with them.
The most beautiful quality of live music is it’s human element. We are not machines and we shouldn’t try to be, which means that every slight change in tempo, every nuanced articulation, every quavering note and slightly out-of-tune vibrato adds character, depth, and artistry to the music.
As musicians, we need to be innately in-tune (pun intended) with these subtle elements and learn how to respond to them. If the tempo ebbs and flows, you need to recognise it and either ebb and flow with it, or consciously pull back your fellow musicians to stay in tempo. Does this correction make the music bad? Absolutely not! It is a vital characteristic of music that makes it all the more exciting and enjoyable to listen to - and it’s what separates live music from studio recordings.
Music is a Language
A helpful way to think about music is as a language. When we learn a language, we start by learning the alphabet, then the vocabulary, grammar, phrases, and so on.
However, no matter how much you read a korean language textbook, recite korean phrases to yourself, watch korean dramas, you will never feel confident as a korean speaker until you actually practice speaking korean with someone else, and practice doing so a lot.
The same applies for music - you can learn all the scales, chords, phrases, and practice them countless times in your bedroom, but you will never hone the skills of communicating with your musical language without fellow guitarists to play with.
The Benefits of a Guitar Community
On top of all the crucial musicianship skills you will develop, there are many added bonuses to playing music with others regularly. Simple ones will of course be fun and relationship building, but most importantly it is the active exchange of and construction of musical ideas.
You and your guitarist friend may not set out with the goal of teaching one another new techniques and tricks, but by simply placing yourselves in a position of creating music and responding in real time to one another, you open up the possibilities for much creativity and innovation.
It could be in the form of improvising a new melody, thereafter building upon it by bouncing of musical ideas. It could be discovering new strumming patterns by merging existing ones both of you separately brought to the table. The list goes on endlessly.
I hope this encourages you to venture forth beyond the comforts of your bedroom to make new guitar friends and discover new musical possibilities.
As always, all the best in your musicianship journey and until next time, I’ll see you again. Goodbye!
By Neil Chan