Let me explain why…
One of the projects I’m working on is a website for guitar players that want to learn music theory. Specifically it’s for new guitarists and those that have tried learning music theory in the past but have struggled with it or found it hard to apply in practice.
Now I don’t claim to be a virtuoso guitar player, I plan to get a lot better. But something I am good at is trying out new ideas, being creative and not being afraid of breaking the rules.
So when it comes to the guitar I teach in a slightly different way than most. An example is shown in the video below. Now if you’re not a guitar player it might not make much sense to you, but the main point to take away is that most guitar players count the notes they are using from 1 upwards. So they count: 1, 2, 3, 4 etc…. while I count: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4… etc.
There are various reason for this, which can be summed up as follows: The old way works for a lot of people but not everyone. So I came up with a different way to serve the needs of those left out.
Now I realise my approach is controversial, so when I post my videos on various social media sites I add a disclaimer like the following:
“I know some of you take offence at the way I teach. Please be open minded and understand that not everyone learns in the same way and that some people benefit from the way I explain things.
But that doesn’t deter critics. Just look at some of the comments I receive.
“Then you teach people a system with 12 different numbers to navigate. You go on to teach people that the root should be “0″ instead of “1″. I cringed. Then you say the formula for a major chord is “0-4-7″ instead of “1-3-5.”
“Your right some people do have trouble learning conventional methods but these methods are what make up musical structure. You take the tried and tested ways of creating music then you develop your own style once you understand the principles.If you had trouble with maths then you would’nt make up your own mathmatical method and say “well i couldn’t get my head round the other way so i made up my own” It would just be wrong because it’s not the way it’s done.”
“How about showing us the proper method that every experienced guitarist will recognise ?Thanks for taking the time but i don’t think it’s a good idea to stray from the path when learning music theory thats been established for hundreds of years. Pass.”
Now I don’t mind fair criticism, but what I don’t agree with is this idea that we should do things just because that’s how they’ve always been done. I don’t think I need to explain why I think that’s a poor way to go about things.
The funny thing is that my lessons get plenty of positive feedback when I post them on social media sites, it’s just that it’s mostly anonymous. It seems that people who disagree with my approach are more likely to log in and voice their opinions, while those that like what I’m doing are quietly appreciative and just “upvote”, “digg” and “like” my stuff.
There are are a few that write to tell me that appreciate what I’m doing but on the whole my supporters are less vocal than the detractors.
“I’ve been scrutinizing my fretboard for quite a few years now and this is one of the best ways to look at it. Great insight!”
“Thanks for these lessons, they are better than anything I’ve bought to educate myself”
I fully accept that I may be wrong in my approach. But what’s the harm if it works for me and a couple of others, even if we are a minority? Being different somehow offends people or makes them feel threatened.
There’s something more going on here than just believing I’m wrong. Because I see this kind of behaviour happen in all kinds of areas. In fact, like many of you I’ve been subject to negative comments about my behaviour throughout my life. Whether it’s due to my choice in clothing, the music I like to listen to, what I like to eat, all kinds of things. There’s no shortage of people that like to tell me that what I’m doing is weird and not normal.
A helpful way to think about why this happens is to use some of the ideas that Howard Bloom wrote about in Global Brain. He proposes the that individuals within a system can be described at either conformity enforcers or diversity generators. Broadly speaking conformity enforcers want to keep things as they are while diversity generators takes risks and mutate more readily.
I’m a diversity generator. I take risk, I try new things, I mutate freely. Yes I get things wrong, I fail and I mess up. But that’s what risk is about; a chance for success and a chance for failure.
Many of you are like me in this respect and I hope that thinking about it in this way will give you more confidence to experiment more and try things out for yourself regardless of the comments you get from others.
You’re far more intelligent than those who rely on group consensus to show them how to live their lives. All you have to ask is: “How is that working out for them?”
And of course: “How is doing what I do working out for me?”
So while there is a time and place to consider what the group is doing, there’s also a time for experimentation. And that will inevitably bring criticism. However a lot of criticism isn’t well thought out, just a knee jerk reaction against anything that is new and different.
And when you get that type of reaction you know you’re pushing past the edge of what is permissible, normal and possible. I don’t know about you but that’s where I like to be.
If you’ve always done what you’ve done before you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
If you want what you’ve never had before you have to do what you’ve never done before.
Go forth and mutate!