[I'm learning to play the guitar, going through 30 Days of Rocksmith. Here's how it started.]
My first real job out of college was for a musical instrument retailer. They didn’t sell pianos and harps or cellos. The instruments they sold belonged more in a garage band. That was their core competency. I started off working in Product Information Management. That’s a multisyllabic way of saying “data entry guy.” It wasn’t glamorous, but it didn’t matter; I was in my 20’s. Just being able to pay the bills on my own was glamorous enough.
The buyers--that is, the folks that actually tested and purchased the musical instruments that we’d be selling to customers--headhunted me out of Product Information Management. Soon enough, I was doing data-entry-guy stuff in the Purchasing Department, instead of in Product Information Management. It was a lateral move. But it felt like I’d skipped a few rungs on the corporate ladder.
It became apparent that, if I was going to be an assistant buyer, then I had better get familiar with the products we’d be buying. That meant guitars. I had no idea how to play a guitar. Not even a little bit. So, I’d started assembling the pieces. I’d already gotten a guitar for a burger and fries. But a guitar strap sounded like a good idea, too, unless I was going to be sitting everywhere I played. But, just because I’d gotten a two-dollar-an-hour raise didn’t suddenly mean I was a millionaire. I needed a cheap strap.
The company had an internal auction house. Every quarter, different items, sometimes sent by manufacturers like Fender, Marshall, and Korg, were put into the auction house rather than accepted by the buyers as gifts. (Accepting them as gifts would cross some ethical business practices, but throwing them into a company-wide auction made it acceptable.)
The bidding on a particular guitar strap started at one dollar. I entered one dollar into the electronic bidding system. Seven days passed and, to my surprise, no one had bid against me. I don’t know who manufactured it, but the strap looked like Elvis dressed as a BDSM gimp in snakeskin boots. I loved it. Nobody else did, though, so it became mine. My wife doesn’t like it. I don’t see what the big deal is.
I was doing well on Shifting 101, though my forearm was getting sore. Shifting is the act of shifting your fingers up and down the neck of the guitar, playing various notes that way. The tune I’m learning is low and mildly depressing, but I’m ecstatic nonetheless.
It’s day three, and I’m up to Sustains 101. That’s when you simply let a note ring out for a while, which an electric guitar is good at doing on its own. Sustains 101 seemed easier than Shifting 101. But I’ve got such a long way to go, overall, that saying anything is “easy” is wildly premature.
But, as far as progress goes, I’ve gotten 100% on Shifting 101, and now I’ve gotten a fast 100% on Sustains 101. Rocksmith is kind and doesn’t throw all the notes at you at once. The first time you play, it’ll only give me about 20% of the song’s notes. Then, as I go through it each time, it adds more and more notes according to how well I handled the last pass. So, I’ve had to take on each lesson multiple times to get up to 100%. But I feel pretty awesome when I do it. It’s ridiculous I feel this way, but each time I’ve hit 100%, my brain yells out, “Is that it? Is that all you got, Rocksmith? I. Am. Unstoppable.”
Then I start the next lesson, and, appropriately, I find out just how stoppable I am. Slides 101 is making sure of that. Slow your roll, Randy. We’ve got a long way to go.