There are numerous facets of guitar playing where this plague seems to have spread, and I think it's about time we get to the bottom of it, or at least talk about it. This was always going to be a fun blog, because I get to come across as a grumpy asshole, but that's my bread and butter. If you think I'm bad here, you should try living with me.
There are so many angles to come at this from, I've decided to split it up so you don't have a 10000 word blog to read, so make sure you sign up to the mailing list if you want to see me tear into the other areas!
That being said, I do want to point out – I have absolutely NO problem with any of the people in the following videos. None what so ever. I have a problem with the people who can't grasp the golden rule of music... if it sounds good, it is good. If it doesn't, then it isn't.
Good music needs no justification. But bad music? No justification is going to help there.
I think this is probably the place where it all started for me. We've all seen them, in fact, they're a joy to watch as it's often inspiring to see someone who is barely big enough to hold a guitar play it to a decent standard right? There are tons of them out there, from 8 year old Zoe Thomson to Li-sa-X, and even my old buddy Orion Meshorer (who now kicks my ass!).
The thing is. None of the videos linked are great. I mean.... they're GREAT! But they're hardly examples of aural bliss right? The bending is out of tune, there is string noise, the timing is poor etc etc. We know this, and as a teacher, I'm forever supportive of young players who have such passion. Having said that, comments like “This little girl is my new hero \m/”, “She is incredibly amazing!” and “Holy crap she's good”. Objectively.... she isn't. I mean.... I've got students in their 40s that have been playing 2 years and playing like this... so why don't they get a break?
We know the answer, in fact, I've got heat for it many times. While I try to be encouraging, I'm also honest. I wouldn't listen to this when going for a run (ha... like I run) or chilling on the sofa (that's more like it), because it doesn't SOUND good. And the response I get is “yeah, but he/she is only 7 man!”.... like that somehow changes how I hear it? No, when I buy a CD and listen to an artist. I don't know if they're black or white. 7 or 70. Male or female. Human or fucking alien. I don't know if they have 10 fingers or 3 arms and 20 fingers... and I don't care. If it sounds good... it is good.
That's the thing, there are kids who play good and sound good, and again... I give them the praise they deserve as musicians. As an example, Andreas Varady is (or was) a 12 year old kid who kicks my ass 10 ways of Sunday... and I don't care. Watch this video and be blown away. Not because he's 12... but because he sounds great. Hell, minimize the window and ask yourself... how does it sound? Are you impressed?
He's obviously gone on to do excellent things (check his website out here and maybe get his album... I did) and I'm excited to see what he does. Same with Zoe, Lisa, Orion and every other kid you send me... because that's what music is about right? Sounding good and touching people.
So as a last little game.... I've got some audio examples for you. Now you're going to have to tell me – are these good... or bad? Can you tell how old the player is? Or what colour their skin is? Does it make a difference to you? Sound off below on if you like them or not, and if they're a kid... and if you care.
It's hardly going to make it into a new Saw film, but I'd be fascinated to know what you think in the comments... Live or die... make your choice.