Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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

Awakening to Your Own Inner Harmony


Greets friends!

I am in the midst of preparing my Jackson 5 Guitar Instructional DVD and am really excited about the music. I am totally immersed in, and enjoying the teaching process of this music – and finding myself in a very feel-good place.

Funny though, as a young classical guitar player I was never able to dig into the music on the level that I do now. As I look back, I think – “what was the difference?” I am really truly happy now – but was not happy back in the day. What am I doing right, and what was I doing wrong? 🙂

I recently returned from a guitar festival in Bermuda where I got to hear and hang out with a great classical guitar duo – the Brasil Guitar Duo. Awesome musically and technically. You could feel their 100% commitment to the music. This made me think…what are they doing that I wasn’t?

I just let the cat out of the bag! But let’s rewind…

Many times, as I played classical guitar I felt a “veil” between myself and the music. a feeling of “I’ll never get it” or “it’s too hard” or something. This was very frustrating for me as a young player. I loved love classical guitar recordings – but somehow feel “locked out”.

I feel totally the opposite with the Jackson 5 music I am preparing for the DVD. By now, my cat should be able to play the songs after having heard the instruction ad nauseum.

As I teach this the music, I am constantly thinking to myself, “what inner message must the student realize in order to play this music, and how can I convey this?”

The music is not exactly easy. It’s a full plate of technical, rhythmic, and melodic challenges. These are delicious musical puzzles that I have figured out. But what is it on the inner plane that has enabled me to play this music – and what must the student do?

The answer is simple. Isn’t it always?

One must LOVE IT enough that they are willing to do the work.

Knowing what you love means that you are awake to your INNER harmony. Not what you think is “cool” or “interesting” – but that which touches your heart and soul.

This sounds simple and easy – and it is when you allow it. But – fear regarding the approval of others (teachers, parents, peer group etc) can twist, distort and hinder you. Or fear of survival (I’ll never make a living doing that) or fear of control (how will I do that consistently) can derail you.

Even as a jazz player, my soul would really light up when I was deep in a blues zone, or a funk zone, or an authentic bebop zone. At other times I’d feel “off”.

But – once you care about the approval of others and compromise your honesty, you’re lost.

And so it was for me with classical guitar – as I see in retrospect. I love the beauty of the art, but I never had the feeling of 100% commitment and love for the music. Not enough to put me over the top!!!

But enough about me….more about YOU.

What do YOU love? When no one’s watching and no one can comment – what is your love, your dream? What would you do for no money? What would you do if you only had 6 months to live? Answer that honestly and you can achieve anything.

And that’s why I have the strength to practice Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder songs for hours on end. I love it that much. I am willing to do the work. And – I’d do it without getting paid! 100% commitment…and the hell with what anyone thinks!

In the words of Joseph Campell…”Follow Your Bliss”. Awaken to your inner harmony, and watch the world roll at your feet. The previously impossible and insurmountable become easy, delicious and inevitable.

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

5 thoughts on “Awakening to Your Own Inner Harmony

  1. Hi there Adam! Where is Eve? Just kidding. I used to play guitar, well, not like Roni Benise or Andre Segovia but I do love it. I bough my first at 20, then gave up becase my job scheduale was killing me. Yes, exactly. That I did what! Now I’m not more into it, but I like what you said about feedback. When we learn that some wonderful people can be so wrong about telling our future (no talking about hand reading) is true that some others can help. Is right, we must take those as a confirmation of what we already know. So, who’s the principal source. Ummhum. God. I’m not religious in the traditional way of the word, but I am for hearing anything God has to said about me. Why? because at the end I want to have the Legitimate Experience. Yeah!! When someone like you go for his dream with all his guts having that Joy that you have, then I am sure sure that God has all planed just like that. I am glad that Him has some great men like you in His pocket. I love when people fullfil His dreams. Like is me!!!! Yeah.
    I hope I can hear those melodies some day soon. Keep loving it with all your heart to unveil some more love.
    ~Great Love to you,
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

    do re mi fa so la si….The rhythm of my bits. Yeah!

  2. Hi Adam,
    Another great article. A true passion for the music we’re playing is essential. Consistency and commitment to our music is really important too. Musical mastery is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s hard to be consistent with your practice if you don’t truly love what you’re playing.

  3. Adam, thanks for the insight. I was speaking with someone last night and I was bemoaning the fact that my real life commitments get in the way of pursuing my love of practicing and playing guitar. Ironically we were at a blues gig and the guitarist was very well versed in what he was doing. My friend said, ” Yes but that real life stuff is always going to be there getting in the way.” I never considered letting guitar get in the way of my real life obligations but I could do that one or two days a week. Ultimately my pursuit of bliss has to overcome my reservation that I could not make a living playing music and surrender to the fact that it is hearing and creating that is fundamental not only to what I love but what is essentially my Spirit in life. Whoever said, ” What other people think of me is none of my business,” got it right

  4. Adam you’ve touched on something that I can directly relate to. I’ve done so much fingerstyle guitar over the past few years that I realized that I was getting away from what it was that made me become a musician in the first place: the music itself. The guitar is just an instrument and only becomes special under the power of the musician – something that most “guitarists” never seem to figure out. I feel that so much good music out there is overshadowed now by the intense competitiveness of guitarists – everyone trying to be the next Tommy Emmanuel or Adam Rafferty ;). I like your style because I can feel your love for the music in your playing. I can’t say the same for many of the other “fingerstylists” out there who, whilst being undeniably skilled, lack the heart and soul of great music. (in essence they’re playing the notes – not feeling them).
    The practice element is tricky because you need to really find what you love and focus as much as you can on it. I always take on way too much but I’m trying to make up for lost time. Anyway, back to making music.

    It sounds like you have found your groove. Keep it up dude.
    Jeff C.

  5. Hi Adam,
    I like your approach and wisdom to playing music that you love and feel. After going through music school and countless teachers, different styles, a mercenary attitude of only playing gigs if they pay, etc. you finally get to the point where you need to find your personal voice in music. The difficulty being all the outside influences along the way, ie. what the music school and / or a particular teacher’s influences are will sway your opinion as to what is good or cool or not worth listening to. Also the need to make a living if you are a full time musician as i am, has you playing music just to pay the rent. But as I continue to grow and learn from all these different influences I find they have helped me to take all those classical techniques, jazz scales and chord voicings, bad gigs, etc. and finally put them all together into a personal musical style of my own whether it’s in my own compositions or doing a guitar arrangement of a standard tune.
    Had I not had all the previous influences and experiences I’m not sure that I would be as good of a musician. The key is to take all that we have experienced as guitar students and working musicians and get to the place where you can do your own thing – which is different for everybody. Some musicians find it early on, some later and some may never find it. But I agree that it starts with a dream and belief in yourself.
    Thanks for all your words of wisdom. Rob Heinink
    P.S. we have a mutual friend who I have done gigs with over the years, Sean Sullivan.

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