New Skills

What is something you have taught yourself in the last year? How did you teach yourself this new skill or concept and what was the result? (500 word limit)


Playing the guitar is nothing new to me. For the past decade of my life, my fingers have danced along the sturdy neck of my six-string. However, each time I pick up my hollow acoustic, my fingers caper to the rhythm of a new song. Recently, I have devoted my free time to learning the infamously difficult tune of John Mayer’s “Neon.”

When I create a tab (short for tablature, which involves deciphering guitar music) for pre-recorded songs, I begin with my ears. This process requires me to immerse myself in the music. With “Neon” I work to pick out each subtle note that backs Mayer’s soothing tones, from the open E string at the beginning to the rake technique employed to close out the song. The process of stripping down music in this fashion might seem like madness to some, but there is a method behind it. I allow my ears to explore each sound thoroughly before deciding on the best note to assign in its place. The process repeats itself in a frustrating but rewarding manner until, sitting before me, is a completed tab.

After my ears have done their job, my fingers take over. They must perform like a group of multi-sport athletes, particularly with a piece as complex as "Neon." As the song begins, the guitar’s neck becomes a...

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