Login or Sign Up
Welcome, !
Join the HC Newsletter
Subscribe Now!

So That's Why They Call It "Playing" Music

by Craig Anderton


This story involves a politician, but it doesn’t involve politics (you’re welcome). I was on a plane, and sitting a few rows ahead was Representative Paul Ryan, who’s now Speaker of the House. He had earbuds, and was listening intently to…what? Senate proceedings? An audio book, perhaps? While we stood in the jetway waiting for our gate-checked baggage, I asked what he was listening to so intently. Probably the Carpenters’ Greatest Hits, right? Maybe Kenny G?


It was Led Zeppelin. Yes, the purveyors of debauchery and on-tour madness had worked their way into the ear canal of the man who, had George Romney been elected president in 2012, would have become vice president of the United States (although I’m sure it would have been a different kind of vice than Led Zeppelin’s).


So I asked if he played guitar. “Yes…air guitar,” and he laughed. But I don’t think it was my imagination that a brief flash of regret seemed to cross his face. It’s one thing to listen to Jimmy Page; it’s another to be strutting across a stage, pounding out riffs on a Les Paul while thousands of fans are screaming their heads off. Yet he didn’t take up the guitar, because he said he just wasn’t good at it.


Well, news flash: I could never hop a mogul like Jean-Claude Killy, but I liked to ski. And I’ll never make Celebrity Chef, but frankly, I cook a reasonably good salmon and besides, there are no documented cases of anyone dying from my cooking.


Listening to music is about enjoyment, but so is playing music. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that making music is fun. But it’s time to let others know. I have a friend who keeps various percussion toys around, and when he puts on music, encourages guests to pick up an instrument and play along. Although they’re usually embarrassed at first, it doesn’t take long before they’re smiling. Maybe that smile will turn into nothing, or maybe it will turn into checking out a Casio keyboard or inexpensive acoustic guitar. As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”


I’ll probably never see Paul Ryan again, but if I do, I’m going to ask for his shipping address and send him a guitar. He’ll probably never become a great guitarist…but I bet he’ll have fun trying.  - Craig Anderton


ps: if you have friends who are musicians, forward them Harmony Central's Make Better Music. They'll thank you and we thank you.


 Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.


No comments
Join the discussion...
Post Comment
soulman969  |  February 15, 2016 at 5:52 pm
DC Address:The Honorable Paul Ryan
United States House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4901 DC Phone:202-225-3031DC Fax:202-225-3393


Fulltime District Offices:
    20 South Main Street, Suite 10
Janesville, WI 53545-3959 Voice: 608-752-4050
FAX: 608-752-4711
Here ya' go Craig.  Are you gonna send him a Les Paul or a Telecaster? LOL

More Cool Stuff
  Audio-Technica Now Shipping ATH-M60x On-Ear Professional Monitor Headphon...
Electro Harmonix Superego+ Synth Engine / Multi-Effect Believe it or not, more '...
sign in
contact us
*Indicates required fields
Name *
Email Address *
Issue Type *
please wait