Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

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

Whazzup with the blog title “Guitar and Spirit?”


Greetings! I hope you had a wonderful Holiday and stay out of trouble on this upcoming New Years Eve!

As I sit here on a chilly, snowed in December morning I am considering creating a Podcast out of what my blog has been: a mish-mash of musical, philosophical and spiritual thoughts.

When I started my blog, my Dad warned me “stay away from the spiritual stuff, just stick to music”. However, I chose to go with my gut and mash it all together.


Oddly enough it was my Dad who gave me a copy of “Zen in the Art of Archery” when I was 15 and really struggling with classical guitar technique. He tried to show me that while it’s an outer game of guitar, archery or whatever – there is the inner game of the mind. Inner and outer are related in a mysterious non verbal way.

Later on, as I continued my music studies at college I had the wonderfully good fortune of apprenticing for years with pianist and composer Mike Longo who was Dizzy Gillespie’s pianist and musical director from 1964-71.

At a certain point in my studies, I had tackled most of the “quantifiable” work on harmony and theory. However, as I pressed Mike for more information about tone, touch groove his answers became more and more cryptic.

One day we played together and following our duet he said “You hear that ‘ring’ in your sound? That has a deep spiritual significance.”

My lessons really took on the vibe and feeling of studying with a magician more than a musician.

It didn’t take long before people started asking me questions as though I “knew” something. Teachers at college would ask me what I was practicing. From nowhere people started speaking to me as though ‘I knew’.

Mike Longo kept reminding me “what you are learning here is not common knowledge.”

Heavy! Even musicians whom I looked up simply talked to me like a peer. I’m more used to it now, but was very weird at the time.

I love teaching and explaining things. I vowed as a young person never to teach or preach hot air or bull, and I really felt sick when I had teachers who did “not know” but pretended that they “knew”.

If I can do it – that shows that I know it. If you can’t see me ‘do it’ then don’t believe me. Allow me to be transparent to your ears and eyes – and you decide what’s true for you. Take what you can use, leave the rest.

So to write a blog about learning guitar or music, I can’t leave out the personal development, the spiritual journey, the discipline, the trials, tribulation and the joys and ecstatic moments. It’s all part of the soup mix of music and life. I spend as much time on myself as a person as I do on myself as a guitarist. In actuality, there is no separation!

Sometimes you’ll get a post here about my choice of guitar strings or recording techniques; at other times you’ll get a post about the power of visualization or meditation. To play guitar well, or music well – for that matter, you need to develop yourself inside and out, from the head to the heart to the body and to the soul.

I wish I could have gotten the inner thoughts of my guitar heroes as I grew up. With the internet today, it’s possible to deliver my intimate thoughts to you – quickly and easily.

If your music is to ring of truth and touch people’s hearts, your whole being is involved. If you are to be successful, your whole being is involved. No outer “techniques” and cover or hide what’s inside. Another way to say this is “You can’t fool the Universe”.

Happy New Year, and be on the lookout for the “Guitar and Spirit” Podcast in early 2011.

– Adam


Author: Adam Rafferty

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

4 thoughts on “Whazzup with the blog title “Guitar and Spirit?”

  1. Hey Adam. I eat up this combination of musical and spiritual goodness. I just wish I had more time and discipline to work on the inner game.

    Do you have any experience with NLP or EMDR? I’ve read a bit about these techniques, but as they are somewhat controversial I’m a bit hesitant to fully dive in.

    Best wishes for 2011. Hope to see you again soon.

  2. ” Take what you can use, leave the rest.”…I like it.
    thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  3. Happy New Year Adam and all the success you deserve and more for 2011! Will look forward to your podcast. Cheers from London. Ciao

  4. Adam,

    Happy 2011. My attention was tweaked when you mentioned Mike Longo in your recent blog. My dad had this album of his called “900 Shares of the Blues” and it changed my whole thinking about music and sound and composition. I played it over and over and still have the vinyl today.

    Anyway, I have noticed that “ring” you speak of when I watch your performance vids. It’s this crystalline nuance and touch that I know is not common even among technically brilliant musicians. Can you talk more about what that ring is… what is means to you, please? What enabled you to achieve “the ring”? Or is this a case of, ‘If you have to ask, you’ll never know’…?

    Finally, I have a request for a future blog. Could you talk about why you use of a thumb pick on some tunes while, on others, your thumb remains “naked.” I’ve tried a thumb pick and sheesh, it steals all sensitivity and feeling from that digit. I tried a couple different ones with horrendous results.

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