No matter how much we think we are learning from others, such as other players, and even teachers such as I the “real deal” is going to come from your own heart and soul when it comes to your playing. I know that I have always sought my own sound when it came to me being an experienced player or even when I was a beginner, and this is something you always must strive for!
In the same way, it’s very important to look for those special moments when you really start to feel “at one” with your instrument. This means those certain times of realization where, even though you may not “know it all” yet (we never do!), you feel like you can really use the guitar as an extension of your heart and your soul. Not only that, but you can literally start to express yourself through your guitar on a complete “one to one” basis, with nary a thought involved at all! When people ask me what I think about when I play, I always say “nothing!” It’s true…there should be no thoughts involved when you are playing from the heart, only instinctive reactions…it’s almost as if you’ve developed a kind of deeply inbred and universal instinct that man has long-since forgotten, and that you are re-awakening!
All this being said, you truly can recognize it when it does happen, and playing from the heart should be what you are always after. It’s true there are the more “academic” ways of learning the guitar, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it all boils down to how you apply all this knowledge, and how it ends up translating to your heart ad therefore to the listener’s heart and ears! Music is such an incredibly universal language. It’s as if we all share this truly primal need to equate sounds with our feelings. Memories, emotions, loves, almost anything, can be conjured up by what we hear in music, and when we are playing it, it should have a similar effect on us. There are many pieces of music that can make me cry quite easily when I hear them, and occasionally even the rare piece that I might play that will make me cry myself!
We’ve all heard the expression “less is more”, and this is certainly true when it comes to using the fewest amount of notes to say the most we can. This is perhaps the most important part of playing from the heart, and when it comes to creating a work of art, which any solo or guitar part must be. Less should always be more, and when you are truly feeling it, that’s all you’ll need. Just look at B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, Hank Garland…these people have always understood that they could say just what they needed, with a total minimum of notes needed to get the job done! Good luck!