6 lessons I have learnt from learning and playing guitar

Everyday , I pick up my guitar and either play it with no specific end product in mind or I learn something new because there is no end to learning this instrument . See , I am not a member of any band (at the moment) or a musician (I can’t sing . It’s a fact) but I still can’t stop playing my guitar . It has been my best friend over the past one year and having it just across my bed has been a blessing in a unique way . I have learnt so many life lessons so far (quite sure I will learn a lot on the journey ) and that’s why I strongly advocate that you try and learn a musical instrument . Any that you like .

I hope these lessons change your perspective about ……well…..anything…..anything  that you might be facing .

1.Do it Afraid 

Adelle Onyango , a Kenyan podcaster and entrepreneur takes all the credits for instilling this in me . She always speaks about doing it afraid , whatever that means to you. To me , it’s being bold enough to step into the unknown . I learnt how to play the piano by watching others and being taught little things here and there when I was young but this time , I went in by myself , afraid. No tutor , just me , my old nylon string acoustic guitar and a bunch of Youtube videos . I was definitely afraid of not learning anything because I was literally teaching myself anyway , or not being a real guitarist because I am not a “music school”graduate . Or maybe , never getting into certain spaces because I am 100% independent . Lewis Howes writes in his book “Most people get stuck in life because they are obsessed with what could go wrong”. That hits home , right? I know . Obsessing with what could go wrong is something we all face once in a while and I can’t get myself away from that list too . I do . Sometimes it helps in decision making and most times , it stops you from even starting to make that decision ,

Big lesson? Let’s add Elizabeth Gilbert in this . She writes “Bravery means doing something scary . Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means”. Step out of that boat like Peter . Whatever that boat means for you . Do it with faith . I have never regretted picking up that guitar and starting with my first chord . So , DO IT AFRAID .You’ll get to the other side and wonder why you were so afraid of starting out . I do that and laugh at myself for worrying about not getting it right . I am learning to actually give God my weaknesses so that He can be my strength . I don’t know who needs to hear this but STEP OUT OF THAT BOAT AND JUMP INTO THE UNKNOWN TODAY

2.Start with what You have

 Remember when Moses tried to give excuses on why He wasn’t ready to go and rescue the children of Israel ? That was going to be a huge task and he thought he maybe needed super powers or an army to do the job . Moses is all of us sometimes . God proves to Moses and all of us that well, whatever you have in your hands is enough. He used the walking stick that Moses had . He didn’t assemble an army , or give Moses weapons or super powers . He used whatever was readily available and that was the walking stick . So starting with what you already have is for me a Biblical principle . It’s echoed by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11:4  If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything. 

Why do we wait for the perfect moment to start or when we have the resources to start ? Because , according to me , we are afraid of failure . So we want to wait until the time is right to jump into something so that we avoid struggling or encountering too many obstacles . Well , that never happens . Even the wise man King Solomon knows it . You will never plant anything and harvest anything if you wait for things to align . 9 out of 10 , they won’t , and that should be a signal to start now. 

   I know there are people who want to start businesses and they are currently moving with the -Let me wait for the pandemic to end because when it does , the economy will stabilise -mentality . Well , James , or John , or Ashley , whoever you are , THE PANDEMIC IS STILL HERE AND THE ECONOMY WILL NOT STABILISE ANYTIME SOON . IT WAS NOT EVEN STABLE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC (Shouting). Start . Start with the little that you have . Again , step out in faith . If Mark Zuckerberg kept the ideas in his hostel room waiting until he graduated to start , would we be talking about Facebook , WhatsApp or Instagram today? No. Big No . 

 I am allowing myself to sink into the reality that things will never align perfectly and give me a sign to start anything . It’s something I’m growing into every day . While fear might drag me down sometimes , this Biblical principle will always get me up . That is why I stopped procrastinating and started a Youtube channel . I threw myself into that fire with what I have, which is just my guitars , a not so good phone , a cheap microphone and thousands of Ideas in my head . I guess the ideas are what really matters , right? So , start today , with what you have. Even if its 1000 shillings for that business or a minimalist microphone for your podcast . 

3. Little by little 

The first song I ever played on guitar was Bob Marley’s three little birds , which is a song I can recommend to any beginner. I learnt it through one beginner class and you can imagine how excited I was when I did my first shift from the A to D chord . They seemed so hard at the beginning but when they started ringing out and the song started taking shape , I never looked back. Those tiny little steps proved to be the most important steps ever . My fingers hurt while trying my first three chords on that song but the moment the chord progression started shaping up , the pain miraculously disappeared . One step at a time , I believe . Right now I can play hundreds , maybe thousands of songs so long as I know the key and one or two chords , all from the first few steps of learning the most basic or what I can call -cheapest-chords ever . 

   From three little birds , I moved to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman , another recommendation from the Youtube tutorials and Paradise by Coldplay . Those three launched me into the world of guitars back then . Looking back , the idea of starting small , with what you have , with the little steps , makes more sense . It’s another principle I am adopting in my life. I started a Youtube channel a month ago and well, same thing . It’s growing one step at a time . I rarely share on my social media but the videos I have uploaded are getting noticed daily by strangers (analytics don’t lie.HAHA). Patience , they say , is a virtue , and I agree. Even though the waiting process can be detrimental , the satisfaction from seeing daily improvement is equally important . Little baby steps . They matter .

5.Comparison is an apex predator 

I mean it. Comparison is on top of the food chain of -how to get stuck in life. Me and my two guitars plus a few accessories  worth less than 250 dollars comparing myself to Paul Davids with his million dollar home studio is how I will stop writing this article . If I sell all my equipment  at double the price , the money I will get will not be enough to buy Mary Spender’s guitar pedals . I am not shaming myself or pushing myself down , I am stating facts . FACTS. Maybe you should try this . Look at the person you might be comparing yourself to and analyse things this way . It’s how I allow reality to hit me and drag me to my place. My place ,where I currently am . Where I am is at the beginning of the journey or maybe a few kilometres in . The people I look upto have been on this journey for a decade or more . Can I ever get to their level ? YES . At the moment? BIG NO . And that is the point . Reality slaps me to my reality.

   The issue with comparison is that it never allows you to focus on who you are and where you are . You get sucked into the life of whoever you are comparing yourself to , leaving your own hanging with unfinished work or goals and dreams unattended to .Comparison is a disease and should be avoided by all means necessary . It can be hard to do that with all these technologies around us but it is possible . Trust me , I get stuck sometimes but we have to keep going , right? Sometimes I compare myself to others but God keeps reminding me that I am unique in my own way and I will never happen again . I am the only version of me that is available for this world and that is enough . 

   In Big Magic , Elizabeth Gilbert says “I happen to believe that we are all walking repositories of buried treasure”. I am not sure about them being buried in us . It might just be another classic metaphor . But I agree . There is always something unique inside every one of us .That is the antidote to comparison 

6.Be kind to yourself 

I don’t know who needs to hear this but let me put it in caps. IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO LEARN GUITAR , IT WILL HURT . YOU WILL GET FRUSTRATED AT THE BEGINNING . IF YOU RUN AWAY AND GO TO THE VIOLA OR PIANO , YOU WILL BE MORE FRUSTRATED .(laughs). Yeah , I said it . Your music teacher will never tell you because , you know , he or she ain’t losing that money from you . There are days when I got so frustrated with my progress that I locked  the guitar somewhere away from me . You try to play a chord and it just doesn’t ring out . A whole day trying something and it still doesn’t make sense. You question your credibility , your motives , your intelligence , your brain power , even your ancestors . If you get to that point where you want to walk away and never look back because it isn’t working , the solution is : BE KIND TO YOURSELF. 

Being kind to myself has allowed me to accept the things I really can’t change, to be very choosy with what kind of energy I allow around myself and to be selfish with taking time away to do things that make me happy!–Rachael Kiragu @iamtherae 

I told you the truth about learning these instruments and it’s definitely the truth about everything in life . Life can get frustrating sometimes .Being kind to myself is something that I am also learning and adopting as an everyday principle . Shaping up my thought life and only allowing what is healthy into my mind . It can be a struggle , again , but it’s better than sitting down and waiting for the speed train of life to knock you off the railway of life. Kindness to myself has lately been about allowing myself to be the way I am . Sink deep into my configuration and not allow any software update to change me . Whenever I get stuck practising my guitar skills or the devil brings those negative mindsets around me , I don’t throw the guitar away . I leave it and come back later. It may look very easy and direct but it’s not . 

   I am even allowing myself to make mistakes financially and learn from them instead of hitting myself for them . I read a very cool book and the author advises people in their early twenties to avoid being too hard on themselves and it’s everything I needed. Learning the guitar , getting frustrated by it many times and going back has been the eye opener for me .

If you are diving into a new space , adversities will come because that is what they do . But they also go . Lewis Howes on his book writes on adversities and says “When adversity arises , you have two choices 

  1. Do nothing , let it overwhelm you and fall victim to your circumstances, or 
  2. Embrace the challenge and move toward the adversity, making it part of your success story .

All the same , Be kind to yourself when they come  

Here is a link to my guitar Youtube channel –

Books mentioned

Big Magic-Elizabeth Gilbert –https://www.amazon.com/Big-Magic-Creative-Living-Beyond/dp/1594634726

School of Greatness –https://www.amazon.com/School-Greatness-Real-World-Living-Leaving/dp/1522614346

Rachael Kiragu website https://rachaelkiragu.wordpress.com

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