When I first began playing the guitar, I quickly got frustrated and discouraged and I quit a few weeks later. I am so deeply grateful that one year later I gave it another shot, because since then playing the guitar has been one of the most meaningful and transformational practices in my entire life.
I feel that music gives voice to the depths of what it means to be a human being. When I think of love, sorrow, joy, hope, anger, and pain I realize that music is the voice that has best been able to help me understand and process these experiences.
Learning to actually play music has given me direct access to explore these realms more deeply for myself in an incredibly beautiful, cathartic, and creative way.
My experience of playing music has not always been easy and positive though. Throughout my teens and early 20’s, I often was consumed by mean self-talk, fear, comparison, jealousy of other talented musicians, and personal insecurity.
I would hide behind the persona of the “rock star” in order to feel cool and worthy to the outside world. But internally I had very little self-confidence and I was putting immense amounts of pressure on my guitar playing to give me a sense of being desirable and lovable.
This all came to a head when, at age 21, I began to experience excruciating chronic pain in my left wrist from playing guitar. I could never play without extreme pain, I had to quit my band, and I ultimately had to stop playing altogether for a time. I went to doctors, PTs, chiropractors, acupuncturists, anyone I could think of to get me out of my pain, and nothing worked.
I fell into a depression, and I’d say this was the most challenging period of my life. I had not only lost what I loved the most, I’d also lost the very thing that I felt certain was required for my self-worth as a person.
Happily for me, my tale doesn’t end there! Just as hopelessness was about to set in, I came across a mind-body modality I’d never heard of before called the Alexander Technique. It helped me realize the amount of emotional pressure I was putting on myself was manifesting as a tremendous amount of physical tension and strain in my muscles.
Also, I came to realize that my physical habits of playing were extremely inefficient and causing me to use far more muscular effort than was necessary to play guitar.
I’ve since worked through many of my emotional struggles and completely re-trained myself to play guitar with much healthier physical habits. Through the process:
My wrist pain disappeared completely and I could start playing guitar again!
I started to feel more emotionally healthy and confident in all aspects of my life
I began to progress as a guitarist at a much quicker rate than ever before
Songs that felt like a real struggle in the past began to feel and sound effortless
Playing music began to feel FUN again for the first time in years
I started to feel a sense of peace from playing rather than a constant internal dialogue of ego, mean self-talk, fear, insecurity, and comparison
I began to discover powerful ways to use playing music for healing, emotional processing, and spiritual connection
My teaching/coaching method is now founded on all that I have learned from my journey. I realize that if we are truly going to thrive as musicians and experience the full gifts of musicianship, we must work through the mental and emotional struggles that arise along the way, and also learn to develop physical playing habits that will support ease, freedom, and rapid musical progress.
If this resonates for you, it would be an honor to support you on your musical journey.
I have been playing guitar for over 20 years and teaching for the past 12. I have played in several bands, performing both in the U.S. and internationally.
I am AmSAT certified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique and hold a masters degree in mental health counseling. I have also completed trainings in Somatic Experiencing® and Mindful Self-Compassion.
Spirituality has long been a core tenet of my life and I have taught classes in meditation and mindfulness skills to people of all ages.
I also am the creator and host of the Holistic Musicianship Podcast.
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”