Why can you never quite sound like Jimi Hendrix, no matter how hard you try? Well, it’s because you aren’t Jimi Hendrix, but that’s okay.
Maybe you’ve studied Hendrix for years, and you can do everything he can do technically. You know all of his recorded solos, all of his tunes in general, and have every record he has ever made (even the 2000 that came out after his death), but there’s still just something there that doesn’t sound right. You don’t sound like him. Instead, it sounds like you playing his music. Is this a bad thing?
This is obviously true for all of the musicians we look up to. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be completely obsessive about every facet of a particular musician’s playing, but one of the lessons I’ve learned is that you’ll never sound exactly like them. This is for the simple fact that you aren’t them.
I don’t mean this in a putting you down sort of way; it’s just the truth. Maybe technically you’re even better than one of your heroes, but you’re not their clone, and that’s why you can’t get their exact sound under your fingers. Everyone touches their instrument in an extremely individual way. It’s like a fingerprint.
An even more important lesson I learned, however, is that this fact of life is ok. This originally would frustrate me, and I’m sure anyone reading this has had a similar experience. When you settle on the fact that you won’t be a clone, though, it can be very freeing. The end goal should be to sound like yourself. If you think about it, isn’t this what made Hendrix so great in the first place? He wasn’t afraid to do his own thing. You shouldn’t be either.
You shouldn’t be discouraged by you not being able to sound exactly like your idol. You should be inspired to try and sound like yourself.
You may have read some of my previous blog posts, where I highlight how important it is to “learn the language” of music by copying ideas from others, and yes, I do still believe those to be valid. The point of this quick blog is to give you an idea of what I think the end goal should be.
It’s great to want to learn every little detail of a player’s style, in fact, as a teacher I encourage that. This can teach discipline and make you hear and play things maybe you wouldn’t have noticed before. A student should never aspire to become a clone, however. Every time you’re digesting another player’s style, make sure you don’t lose the end goal of using these ideas to eventually become your own player with your own sound.
Who knows, maybe one day someone will want to sound exactly like you.
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Falls Music School