Wire Works


“Oh, so that’s how it works.”

I was practicing the bass on a Monday night while I had the house to myself so that no one would be around to hear me fumble my way through finger exercises and pentatonic scales except for the Google spydevice Home.

Which was in the other room.

And I still closed the door.

It was my third day of practicing in a row. Saturday’s session had been excruciating. Sunday’s session had been slightly less mortifying. And now I felt like I was starting to see, or hear, or feel some progress. Mostly feel. It all still sounded pretty bad.But that was OK- I was still trying to build good habits for muscle memory.

Trying to concentrate on two hands with five fingers each was like playing concentration whack-a-mole. If I focused on hitting the right frets, I wasn’t focusing on which finger I was strumming with. If I focused on my strumming hand, I lost track of where the note was supposed to be. If I distracted myself by reminding myself to breathe, then I would flub both hands. And if I focused too hard on my hands and forgot to listen to the metronome I would lurch off tempo into the weeds like a zombie walker.

So the task of the day was trying to strum from one string to the one above it with the same finger.

One Two One Two One *shift* One Two One Two One *shift* One Two.

It had made perfect sense when the instructor demonstrated it, but actually convincing my fingers that this was A Thing and that I should be doing it was proving more difficult than I’d anticipated.

And then it wasn’t.

Suddenly, I caught myself doing it without stopping to think about it.

“Oh. So that’s how it works.”

Suddenly, The Feel was just there. I did it without thinking about it and it felt right. Instead of having to think through the individual gestures, like a kid trying to sound out a word by looking at each letter, I could suddenly recognize the whole movement as a single gesture. In the course of the past three days, my body had gone bushwhacking through my neural connections with electrical impulses and chemical tags and had now carved out a shortcut.

Ain’t neurology wonderful.

It’s not perfect yet: I still can’t hit the perfect form every time- especially if I stop to breathe in the middle of an exercise, but it was edifying to discover that I was making progress even after only a few days.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 22, 2018.

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