here’s a couple behind-the-scenes of my senior pictures!!! it’s so scary to think about how much i’ve grown up. i can’t wait to finally get a grip on my own life and pursue whatever God leads me to do. also, @taylorswift, thank you so much for unknowingly getting me into music & leading me towards my outlet. i love you so much.
As someone who is trying to learn guitar, I’m always intrigued when an individual can play a song in such a way that I can only hope to achieve. In the beginning of the school year, my friend introduced me to his suite mate, we’ll call him Max, who apparently was “legit” at the six-string instrument. What does being “legit” at something even mean? It’s such a subjective term, especially when referring how good someone is at doing something. In this past week, I was able listen to this guy play and see if the claims were true. It wasn’t on a fancy stage or anything, it was just a guy with his guitar, playing in an intimate get-together. With such a small number of listeners, it was easier to pick up on the small things that occur during the performance without the distractions brought by a larger audience.
Once he began to play the first song, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, I could tell that he was slightly uncomfortable and a little nervous. For a few moments, the atmosphere just felt awkward as we watched him play. Not that he was bad or anything, quite the contrary, he was quite good. It was his body language and facial expressions when he made tiny mistakes that told me this was not something he was accustomed to doing. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the obvious looks on Max’s face, I don’t think many, including myself, would have caught notice of these slips right away. Admittedly, I could only tell where he messed up because I had listened to Stevie Wonder’s hit song a few hours prior to arriving at Busch Suites.
When I asked him how long he had been playing, he responded with a timid three years, as if it was embarrassing. I’m not saying he’s the best musician in the world, but considering the span of his experience, his skills are commendable. Now this cover wasn’t perfect. There were moments where the tempo would fluctuate or where his rhythm would get a little messy, but nonetheless it was enjoyable. I’ve encountered others who have been playing for longer, but can only manage a simple fingerpicking pattern that doesn’t seem to be capable of carrying out the song alone. I myself have yet to fully learn John Mayer’s guitar cover of “Free Fallin’” without it sounding like trash, but let’s save this for another time.
After talking about his experience, Max pulled out his phone, opening his Notes app. He turned it around and showed us the resume of songs he has mastered over the three years and let me tell you, it was LONG and probably took hours of practice to fill up. As he scrolled through his list, he found the next piece he would perform for his listeners, “No Makeup” by Zion T., an artist from Korea. Max was noticeably calmer as he played this song and I think it’s because none of us had ever heard of it before and couldn’t compare it to the original. I say this because I can relate, having played in piano recitals for years (let me tell you, I despised it). Performing something that the audience isn’t familiar with is a lot easier, simply because they can’t form expectations of what the heck it’s supposed to sound like. The same story went for his next cover, “Joky” by Ahn Jung Jae. It was another piece I was unfamiliar with, but Max seemed a hell of a lot more confident playing this as well. Maybe this sudden rise in confidence can also stem from the fact that he had gotten used to us watching him because by the time he started playing this third song, everything was, for lack of a better word: chill.
Maybe I haven’t been to many live performances in these most recent years, but I can say that I genuinely enjoyed Max’s guitar covers, even though they weren’t perfect. The little imperfections during the performance made it seem more real, more human. Do I think that he is indeed, “legit” at guitar? Sure. By my standards, he’s pretty good and is able to share his talents with others. Isn’t that the reason why artists perform? Some of the biggest pop stars sound horrible live - I’m looking at you Katy and Taylor - but hey, they’re able to make their fans happy, so screech away! But in scenarios like that intimate mini-concert that happened on a random Tuesday afternoon, I’d say rock out.