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Improve Your Skills By Playing With Other People

Matt Rushton and Tom Warnick

   I remember when I was starting to learn guitar, I wanted to be in a band so bad but I didn’t think I would ever be good enough to do it. I would practice in my room for hours and I finally got to a point where I was pretty good. The next logical step was to start playing with other people. I was nervous, but when the chance presented itself, I seized the opportunity. When I got together with other people to play music, my skills as a live musician increased more than I ever could have imagined. There’s just nothing like the interaction that you get playing with other musicians.

   When I got in my first rock band, The Waves,  I had so much to learn that I’m amazed I was able to stay in that band until it broke up. The other guys were so much better than me that I really have to give them credit for letting me keep playing with them while I learned. So, many thanks to Brian Vanderweide, Carl Robertson and Matt Wilson for letting me hang with them when I was a kid. You guys were the launching point for my career as a musician.

   I reached a level I never even thought possible while playing in The Waves. I wanted to keep going as a musician after the band broke up and was back to practicing on my own. Again, I hooked up with another musician who taught me the proper way to play rock guitar with full on overdrive distortion. I had gone to my brothers place in Eureka, Nevada for a couple weeks and he introduced me to a guitar player there. John something, I can’t remember his last name. But it was two weeks of intense jamming and classic rock education. John really got me going on playing hard rock guitar which is my true favorite style on the guitar. So again, it was playing with another musician that pushed my playing up to another level.

   The next step in my evolution as a musician was joining and starting my various bands in high school. The bands were named “Exodus”, “Switch” and “Fuchsia”. Some of the most influential musicians of my life were in those bands. Dan Adams who was a killer drummer and excellent friend. Tom Warnick and Kyle Johnson who I still play with to this day in Shufflin’ Noah along with Frank Lee. These people all pushed me to get better and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the interaction that I got from them.

   When I finally started playing in clubs I got in a band called “Blitz” and I grew like crazy again. Playing with all these different people has helped shape me into the musician that I am today. So in retrospect, I could have kept thinking “I’m not good enough to play with other musicians” and that would have led me to a dead end. But I’ve found there’s just no way that you can reach your potential without playing with other musicians.

   That’s why I’m telling you, my faithful readers, that if you want to improve your skills then you have to play with other musicians. Even if it’s some guy or girl that lives next door. Get out your guitars and sit down and jam. You’ll learn something every time!


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