Put the Horse Before the Cart and Move
Felt like blogging some more.
I love music, but I had some problems with my left hand. The knuckles on three fingers swelled up. I think I got this problem because I was using an online guitar lesson program intended to strengthen my hands. It was full of harsh, repetitive movements done to exhaustion.
I quit playing the guitar and pretty much forgot about performing, shifting instead to writing music. That’s rewarding, and it’s more important than playing, but playing is not something to be discarded lightly.
A few months back, as is often the case, my pastor got a word that he was supposed to pray for physical healing, and I went up. After the service, my hand felt better. I resumed practice. Now I’m playing the banjo, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, piano, lap steel, and dobro.
I’ve put the mandolin and electric guitar on the back burner. I focus mainly on the piano and slide guitars, and I keep up with the banjo, because practicing everything I know only takes around 20 minutes, and it appears that practicing my first instrument improves my ability to remember and play pieces on other instruments.
The mandolin is not a big priority, but I did hear a piece in my head, so I wrote it down in Finale, and I put up a Youtube in which the computer plays it. I should record a version using an actual mandolin, but I haven’t done that.
I have had to go for prayer again, and I have found that stretching and a thing called “friction massage” protect my left hand, but basically, I am healed. It’s a big blessing. If I had to pick one thing I wanted to do more than anything else, it would be music. And God tells us he will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
You may not believe it, but you can bless yourself with added ability. One day I got the idea of speaking increased talent to myself, and increased strength, agility, and endurance to my hands. When I sat down to practice the piano, I played a boogie woogie bass line I wrote, and suddenly my hand just took off. I was flying. And I didn’t get tired. The rest of me sat still and watched while my left hand kept going and going and going.
The Old Testament is full of this kind of thing. They blessed and cursed all the time, and they expected it to work. The entire Arab/Jewish situation is based on a few things Isaac said to Jacob and Esau before he died. Over a billion people are living in circumstances he spoke into existence. It shouldn’t surprise us that we have power over ourselves and the little things we see around us.
I got the idea of learning to play dobro from my desire to get used to using fingerpicks on the guitar. Dobro players use the same picks banjo players use, and I’m a banjo player. I figured I would get going on the dobro, and that would get me used to playing six strings instead of the four and change the banjo provides. But it seems like the dobro is turning out to be a goal in and of itself. The various types of slide guitars can do things a fretted guitar can’t.
The best instructional material I’ve found (I bought several things) is a DVD set by a player named Rob Ickes. You can find it at Amazon. I can’t find any Rob Ickes videos I like, so here is Jerry Douglas playing “The Boxer.”
I thought the lap steel would be included, sort of, in learning the dobro. It looked so similar. I shopped around and ordered one. I almost got a used one; some of the best can be picked up for $300. But I heard bad things about the pickups, so I decided to get a new Eastwood with a humbucker. It’s very nice. Totally Chinese, but the workmanship is as good as a Gibson guitar, and the pickup has a sweet, warm sound.
It turns out the lap steel, at least for me, is considerably harder than the dobro. To play dobro, you use a steel bar with a nice handle carved into it. The lap steel is played with a round cylinder of metal with a hemispherical end, and it’s hard to hold onto. You have to master vibrato and string-muting in order to play the lap steel, to a much greater degree than is necessary than the dobro. So the dobro is going very well, and the lap steel is taking more time.
Here’s a guy who inspired me to take up the lap steel. His name is Doug Beaumier. He’s playing an old Gibson Century 6 guitar. His work shows what can be done, if you have the skill.
Here’s another exceptional player, Bishop R.P. Hall.
I don’t know what kind of future I have with the lap steel, but it’s nice to have good amps ready to use. My latest amp is perfect for the job, and it also works with the dobro.
The dobro I bought is a Gretsch. I didn’t want to invest heavily in a new fling, so I went Chinese. I can’t complain. It’s an excellent instrument. The fit and finish are just about perfect, the materials appear to be top drawer, and it sounds great. It has a Fishman pickup installed (these run over $150 all by themselves), and I got the guitar and pickup for $420. My amp is perfect for it. It doesn’t sound like an electric guitar. It sounds exactly the same way it does with the amp turned off, only louder.
You may have dreams you’ve written off. They may not seem important to you. What you may not know is that God gives people dreams, and the ones you dropped may be very important to him. It depends on what they are, of course. If you’ve dreamed of opening a strip club, it’s not God’s idea. But God does have a mission for you, and he will give you desires that are compatible with that mission. God is a good father and a good boss; he does not want you to spend your life doing things that aren’t rewarding.
If you can develop closeness with God, you can jump-start your God-given dreams. You may have blown it in the past, but God is like GPS: he re-routes. Whatever you can get from God at this stage of your life will be far better than anything you will receive if you do it on your own.
Pray in tongues. Fight the spirits that try to control you through your flesh. Learn to bless and curse. Dedicate yourself to God’s purpose. Keep at it consistently, asking for prayer when needed, and things will start to blossom. And it will never stop.
This is what being seated in high places with Christ means. We were created to live in authority, not defeat. We aren’t supposed to be proud about it, but it is our intended destiny, and there is nothing wrong with seeking it.
It’s working for me, and God didn’t create this scheme because of one person’s needs. Everyone is eligible.
Give it a try and see it work.