If you don't know who I am, I'll introduce myself. I'm Sean Fallon, Kevin's son, here at Northwest Guitars. Manager, teacher, photographer, website design, SEO optimizer, restring tech, sales, inventory specialist, social media and online sales. I stay busy! My father has been playing since he was 8 years old and my older brother started when he was 6. Me? I ripped apart a computer and put it back together again when I was around that age. I've been busy with gaming ever since.
Sticking to guitar has been a difficult road for me. I lost interest several times. Family members showed me a few chords but it didn't hook me. Then more years down the road a friend tried to teach me. Yet again it didn't stick. I could NOT figure out why people dedicate their time and often their life to guitar. What's so cool about pressing metal strings down? Even my brother Vinnie who I looked up to; he was the one who got me into gaming, comics and metal music. He showed me a few things and for the 3rd time it just didn't stick. Was it me? Maybe guitar is too hard. Maybe I'm just not musically talented like the people who play guitar. I assumed my skills lie elsewhere. But I had much to learn, not just about guitar but life.
Fast forward some years later. My father needs help at the store with tech things. Building a website, social media, data entry. Now I'm around guitars all day. I'm around professional teachers and the passion guitar players share in this store all day. The thing about passion is its contagious. Eventually I start to find guitars I think are cool, guitars that are my style, guitars I like the color of, the feel of not guitars that other people like. I know if I'm going to work in a guitar store I better know how to play. Yes I can be very knowledgeable, study the industry, how they are made, the best guitars on the market for each year, but if I can't play a lick then I may not have credibility in some people's eyes. So I got a guitar teacher here at the guitar store...
I chose one of our teachers who I trusted and connected with. I told him I want to find stuff I enjoy and this is where the story takes a turn. I sat down... and for the first time someone asked me what I wanted to learn. Instead of showing me chords right away he asked me what kind of things I like. He taught me about the different types, styles, and possibilities. I quickly realized I needed a challenge to stay focused. That's just how I learn. So I picked really hard metal and classical songs. Songs where just a 2 second selection of the song was packed with so much technique and notes that it would take me months to just master that 2 seconds. Maybe its because I want that feeling of doing something I didn't think I could do. Maybe its because the harder it was, the more of an end goal I would have. Like picking up a football as a kid for the first time and setting your sights on the Super Bowl. Standing at the foot of a mountain pointing at the peak. The enormous challenge of tackling something like that excited me.
As years went by I learned easier songs on the side but I never lost focus of the songs at the top of the mountain. Each week I got more and more excited to see my teacher. I was not only finding more songs to play but finding songs I enjoyed. He got to know my musical taste and interests. It became something to look forward to. What challenge will he give me that I can overcome during the week? What new music will he show me? How close am I getting to my larger goal. The peak of the mountain. Every lesson I felt more accomplished. I felt like I'm doing something. Not just with guitar but with life. I'm gaining ability and skill. I'm moving forward. That's the thing about learning in general. You feel like you are going somewhere. You feel like you can be someone. You are hopeful, wide eyed and it brings this wild creative curiosity from deep within you. We all get that negative feeling like we are just living. Just surviving day to day. Just existing in the world both dead and alive like a zombie shuffling from work to home. But this.. this creative energy of learning something difficult reminds you that you are capable of much more.
After a couple months that's when the passion starts setting in. I realized a lot in that time. The most important thing is that the start of anything is hard. If you want to be an artist, gamer, guitar player or start working out. There are basic skills you will need. Basic coordination. Lets say you haven't worked out a day in your life. The first time you work out will be hurt. Its hard because using muscles you haven't used in years is hard. You will be sore the next day maybe even for several. But the next week is a lot easier. By the 3rd 4th and 5th week you are actually starting to have fun. After a month you are losing weight, looking better, sleeping better, and can think more clearly. That sore feeling goes away and is replaced with energy.
That was the first thing I realized. The second is you gotta fall in love with the grind. Bold it, italic, underlined. The process of learning is the fun part. Its really not about being able to shred perfectly in front of a crowd of people. Its about enjoying the learning process and just how wonderfully good you feel as you tackle each speed bump. The process is always the same. You learn a new technique or riff and its like seeing a big speed bump in the road. You start up it and realize this will take a little energy. You practice a few times during the week and reach the top of the speed bump. You have to slow down to a crawl to get over the top. You go to your lesson to show your teacher and you are doing it!! You are on the other side and you hit the accelerator. It feels wonderful being able to do something you couldn't do last week. But without having to slow down you will never know what its like to accelerate. The speed bump is the cause of the slow down. Learn to love that speed bump because it is the thing that will give you that wonderful feeling of putting the pedal to the metal on the other side.
This is where I will end this blog post. We have such an odd existence. We go to work, then home, then work, then home. Everyday. (Unless you work at a guitar store). Sometimes you start to lose that passion and curiosity to put into something new. But that's what makes learning guitar the perfect choice. You choose a challenge, your guitar teacher helps you grasp the concept and then you just sit back and enjoy the feeling of practice. Just like meditating, you slow down to relax your body and slowly go through the motion over and over. After a couple short practice sessions you start to be able to do it without looking at the fret board. Then you are able to do it while talking to someone. Then it hits you. You got it!! Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. You start all over again with something new. This is it. This is why people can't put the guitar down. There is always something new to learn. Even a pro can learn something from another pro. Even teachers themselves go through the process of finding a new riff or technique. They focus on it, then they are able to do it without looking, then they can do it with out thinking and they get the same accomplishment feeling. Fall in love with the grind, enjoy the meditative feeling of practice, keep learning something new.
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At Northwest Guitars we are deeply embedded in our community. From donations to local schools to promoting local musicians we work hard to make Bellevue and the surrounding areas a better place to live, work and play.