Why all the pain?

“No pain, no gain, no ankle sprain”

Well not that last bit, but a true saying from an unknown source.

Ok, just to add some context here, I’m a very athletic person, but I’m not a typical seventeen year old Male athlete. Instead of being obsessed with soccer, football, rugby, etc. or having super big muscles, it’s been my goal to have a very functional body, and be deceptively strong. Also, I am bent on flexibility (pun intended) so I do some pretty epic stretches. I try to workout daily, but that doesn’t always happen.

Ok, now that you have the background, let’s talk.

So the other day I was doing my workout, which is very painful, and I was thinking “why would anyone in their right mind willingly put themselves through all this pain?” And almost immediately I realized the answer. The answer is I willingly endure this pain now so I won’t have a bunch more unwilling pain later. I do this now so that in fifty years I won’t be a creaky, sore old person that can’t even blink without injuring myself. So, if you ever wonder if you should keep doing something you’re doing, look ahead thirty years and see where that activity will take you. And also, stay active, even if for five minutes a day, and your grandkids will thank you.

I guess that’s all for now, since I can’t think of any further points to make…

“Perseverance is a decision not an emotion”

-Gunnar

A word of encouragement… or not…

So this is a post I made elsewhere a few weeks ago that I copied and pasted so I can quickly add some content to my blog without much thought…. I’m lazy that way lol. So here it is

Well I was contemplating the meaning of life and listening to heavy metal the other day… ok just kidding. But I was thinking (that’s dangerous, last time I thought someone almost lost a hand… jk) I was thinking about musicianship and came to an encouraging, or discouraging, realization; you will never “get there” cuz the moment you get “there” you’ll look over the hill you just climbed and realize that the next one is where “there” is. This could be discouraging, but I would look at it as encouraging. Because if you hadn’t climbed that metaphorical hill you’re currently standing on, you would have never even seen the next one. And remember, you can’t travel between one hill and the next without walking through the valley in the middle. Your knowledge is like a candle; the bigger the circle of your knowledge gets (the brighter your candle) the bigger the circle of what you don’t know gets outside it. Each new thing you learn will bring to your attention at least two things you have yet to learn. This is actually a good thing, as it means you’re learning, though it may not feel like it. So keep at it, you’ll get there, even though you’ll never get there, cuz whenever you get where the icecream truck was, it’ll already be to the next block. But even professionals, I believe, never “get there” cuz they are always learning too. The moment you decide that you’ve “made it” you’ll stop trying to learn, so just don’t. If you’ve made it this far, you’re either really bored or you’ve been reading Greek philosophy and needed to clear your head. Anyway, I hope this was more encouraging than discouraging, I think maybe I should start a blog

Obviously, if you’re reading this you know I did in fact start a blog. Hope you enjoyed reading this.

“Difficulty is just an opinion based on your perception of your own incompetence”

-Gunnar

What instrument is hardest?

So here’s a frequently asked question, and the answer is different for everyone. But since I’m not everyone, I’ll tell you what the answer was for me. And the question is also not so straightforward, there’s lots of considerations to consider.

Ok, little disclaimer here, I picked these instruments up in about six month intervals, so the ones I started later would be easier proportionally.

On to the topic at hand, I’m gonna try to rank my five main instruments by difficulty, in a few different categories. The instruments are (in the order I picked them up) Guitar, Harmonica, Banjo Fiddle and Mandolin, and I’ll add Ukulele for fun.

Beginning phase:

1. Mandolin

2. Banjo

3. Fiddle

4. Harmonica

5. Guitar

Bonus

1.5 Ukulele

So, that list was for just starting out each instrument, and it’s not objective because I had a different level of experience before picking each one up. The mandolin was easiest because I already had lots of experience, and the Ukulele cuz it’s similar to guitar. Guitar was hardest cuz I had no prior experience.

Getting good:

1. Banjo

2. Guitar

3. Mandolin

4. Fiddle

5. Harmonica

Bonus

4.5 Ukulele

So, this is a very different list, it’s about when you’ve been playing a while, how easy is it to start improvising or playing more advanced material, and just being comfortable just randomly playing with the instrument. This list is influenced by both the amount of time I’ve played each instrument as well as the layout of the instrument. I find the banjo to be super intuitive and easy to play, and play with, but others may feel differently (but they’re not making this list, so they can’t complain ) definitely the harmonica is the hardest to get good at because there is a lack of both learning materials, and good players to emulate, and same with ukulele, most people who play it only play a few chords and sing.

Physically:

1. Guitar

2. Banjo

3. Mandolin

4. Harmonica

5. Fiddle

Bonus

3.5 Ukulele

6. Bass

So, (I say that a lot), this is basically which one is physically the easiest. Honestly, it depends on whether I’m sitting and where, but the only reason banjo is lower than guitar is my shoulder gets tired holding my arm up in first position. I’ve always found ukuleles awkward to hold, and depending on your lungs and the shape of your harmonica, it can be unpleasant too. And it’s no secret that the fiddle is an awkward thing to hold, I haven’t had any trouble holding it in a long time, but my bowing arm gets very tired. I added bass for giggles, it’s bass guitar (not upright) and they’re super heavy.

Overall:

1. Guitar

2. Banjo

3. Mandolin

4. Harmonica

5. Fiddle

Bonus

0.5 Ukulele

So, this is the last one, it’s an all things considered list. The Ukulele is the easiest, because the simplicity of the chords and the forgiving nature of the instrument make it very easy to make nice music. There’s a reason why so many people play them, and if you’re a serious musician, there is some advanced material to learn, a lot of innovation waiting to happen, and a very low Audience expectation when you take it out.

The guitar is next, everyone has one, and it’s very forgiving similar to ukulele. There’s a reason everyone plays one. And when you’re advancing, there’s so much material out there to learn and numerous artists to look up to.

Banjo, I found the open tuning super easy to use and think about, and there’s a lot of material to learn.

Mandolin, this one is pretty easy cuz there’s such a devoted following, information isn’t too hard to find, and there’s lots of material and great players. Also, since it’s rather obscure, it’s a great conversation starter.

Harmonica, this one is hard both to think about and to get good at, there’s several notes missing unless you can do advanced overblowing techniques. There’s very few real musicians playing these, and material is hard to find. On the upside, expectations are low when you get one out, and people will be surprised if you play well.

Fiddle wins most difficult, this wasn’t a blowout victory, it was a close contest, but fiddle is more difficult because there’s no frets, the bow is a **** and it’s loud, so not forgiving. But there is a great community of players you can find, lots of instructional materials, and no limits to the possibilities of the instrument.

And for the record, when I say harmonica I mean ten hole diatonic, not chromatic 

Hope you enjoyed reading this comparison. Remember, it’ll be different for everyone, this is just my experience with the wonderful world of musical instruments

“Act like a genius, unless you want to be honest”

-Gunnar

About Me

Hi, my name is Gunnar, and I’ll be writing this blog. I suppose you might want to know who I am or a bit about me, so I’ll write a quick bio here.

I am a homeschooler, and the second of eight kids, I’m a Christian missionary kid in Mozambique east Africa. I’m a multi instrumentalist, and I mainly play traditional acoustic music, including Irish music, bluegrass and old time, and occasionally some others. I play the Guitar, Harmonica, Banjo, Fiddle and Mandolin mainly, but I also sometimes play the Ukulele, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Tin Whistle, Bamboo Piccolo, Trumpet, Piano, Dobro, and anything else that’s left within my (very long) reach. I’m also an athletic person, and I enjoy playing several sports including soccer, ping pong, tennis, squash and badminton, as well as trampoline trickery. I also am rather flexible, with the ability to do such things as the splits. I love motorcycles, and ride motocross whenever I get the chance, I am a fairly good mountain bike rider and casual level stunter, and I do parkour on a casual level (I can easily scale a ten foot wall)

I am a third generation smart aleck. (No further comment necessary 😂)

I was born in Texas and am an American citizen, but I’ve lived in Africa since before I could walk.

I decided to start a blog so I could easily share whatever brilliant nuggets of wisdom (or just plain chicken nuggets….) with the world. I don’t know what all I’ll post here, but I can tell you that it’ll be interesting and most likely funny.

So please do subscribe here, so you’ll get an email telling you each time I upload content, which could include (but not limited to) videos of me playing musical instruments, columns of various and assorted thoughts, and possibly even interviews with musicians (if you know any who would like to be interviewed do please refer me to them).

You can find my YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChFeQSpLfyWuaTrtB4YORAg

And my Instagram here:

https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

My free backing track website:

https://backingtrackers.wordpress.com/

I guess I’ll be done now.

Watch out for mineshafts

Gunnar

My first blog post

Well, I finally caved to the pressure and did it. I created a blog. I’ll be writing here about whatever random thing pops into my head, but mostly music. If you want the fountain of wisdom (or maybe more like a carrot cake of weird thoughts) delivered to your email inbox whenever I get around to baking, then subscribe to this blog. You won’t regret it (or you might but only if you’re a boring old curmudgeon who doesn’t appreciate humor)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

“When you dance, don’t hold back. Cuz if you dance like you mean it you may look like a fool, but you won’t look half as foolish as those who dance halfheartedly”

-Gunnar

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