Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


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Cohesion, Life Force and Music

Funny, over the last few years making music got more easy, more fun, and my fans like what I am putting out there more than ever. What the heck happened?

I couldn’t put my finger on whatever I had realized and still can’t fully do so, but I saw a youtube vid the other day that may help explain it.

The video was called “where mind meets matter” by Dr. Bruce Lipton. It is a 17 part vid that everyone should watch (yep, a long playlist) but the crux of what he talks about is that Newtons “mechanistic” model of the universe is not 100% on the money.

What is the mechanistic view, and what does it have to do with music?

Well, there came this old notion that the universe and our bodies are like watches or machines, that can be taken apart, the gears & springs can be looked at, replaced, repaired and put back together.

Well, life is not that simple we are finding. Spirit defies that in certain ways. The magic of the parts blending and springing forth from source is something far more utterly complex than an “assemblage of separate parts” working like a machine. Modern day medicine and new ideas of healing are on a more quantum level than a mechanistic level.

I always wondered as a music student about melodies written by master composers. One note, two notes, three notes – and bang! It could be Mozart without a doubt. Something invisible, some binding force behind the notes is evident in the spirit behind the music. Take the notes apart and you can’t find the spirit – much like a human body.

Here are some ways I have discovered this recently in music:

– Recording my new CD. One or two (or three) songs were heavily edited, several takes pasted together (I am sorry to say). While they are correct and beautiful, they do not possess the “life” of a take played straight through with some rough edges made smooth. Different feeling altogether, at least for me.

– I’d always feel out of whack musically if I practiced just technique or just scales or just one aspect of music in a disconnected way. Any technique or idea MUST be practiced in conjunction with the “life force” and joy (groove) in the music otherwise it doesn’t apply in real music

– Techniques fall into place if you make the life force the primary objective! (Beauty, groove, melody)

Music reflects life and life reflects music. Now I see why my greatest teachers (and Bach by the way) insisted on musical, loving, spiritual solutions to problems. Mike Longo my teacher would tell me “your answer is technically correct, but not spiritually correct”. He’d show me musical things that would make me laugh from deep in my belly and tickle my intuition! πŸ™‚

Of course intelligence and technique must be learned, but in the right way – in a way that connects to spirit!

More to come on this fascinating topic!


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The Secret to Improving Your Guitar Skills and Battling Frustration

I got an email yesterday from a YOUTUBE fan that prompted me to write him a response at 2 am. He’s actually in New York City as well and came to my house once for a private lesson.

He expressed his overwhelming frustration with trying to improve his guitar skills. The ups, the downs – one day it feels good, the next day it doesn’t, he feels “stuck” and so on. He feels that he has hit a wall.

While it may appear to the public that I am a streamlined pro guitar player, don’t be fooled. It’s like seeing a cute baby but NOT seeing 26 hours of bloody labor πŸ™‚

I have had many hours of frustration over the years, and put in hard work. One of the most encouraging moments during my teenage years was receiving a letter from Pepe Romero – basically assuring me that he too put in many hours of hard work and had his frustrations, his ups & downs.

I can remember back in my college years spending hours – pushing against myself as I practiced, always angry at myself for not being better, staring in disbelief at my own playing and feeling it was just not good enough.

There is a LOT of psychological stuff at play here. The more you see the cup half empty – it just gets emptier…so this is a terrible trap and it is in fact a psycho spiritual issue. It certainly helps to have a teacher who can guide you at this point.

But let’s say you have no teacher and your frustrated, what should you do? Here’s what I wrote at 2am yesterday:

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Re: My Frustration Defies Description..!

Good to hear from you. I want you to feel good and get better!!!

Here’s what you need to do. Do one simple thing on guitar that you can do, no problem and let yourself do it and enjoy it. Forget about the idea of improving for a moment . Take a deep breath and step into the enjoyment. It sounds like you are grabbing tightly, so use the energy of appreciation and gratitude to get mellow! πŸ™‚

Naturally, you guitar playing will expand and variations will come, but you may have to let it, rather than force it.

Also – get your guitar set up so that it is easy to play, so that you are not straining. Any virtuoso has an instrument that is easy to play, so it is not like wrestling or weight lifting. You’d be surprised to hear how guys play lighter than you think.

I am telling you this having gone through many many frustrating hours myself as a young guy studying classical. Everything seemed like a struggle on guitar.

You need to always look for the easiest most comforatble and reliable way to finger something, rather than force your idea of how it should be. It’s a spirit of discovery…

Find a simple piece that you can master, allow your touch to warm up when you practice. PLAY SLOW! Never put a microscope on yourself and be gentle with yourself if you make a mistake, give up the idea of perfection. I practiced one song all night tonight, and took the attitude “well it’s coming, let’s see where it is in one week”. I just kind of let it spill out over and over and found a new thing here and there, but with little clutching.

Easier said than done, I know. As I said – I know frustration well. Hang in there!!! You got the talent and passion – you just need guidance.

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Doesn’t this echo life? It’s not just guitar – but when we allow things be be, and to see the fullness and beauty that we have, and are thankful for it – it expands naturally without effort or strain.

The guitar has taught me much of life – and life has taught me much guitar. I say thank you to the Universe, to Source, to God – for this incredible journey!

Until next time…keep pickin’

Adam