Guitar Zen: What the Matrix Taught Me About Guitar!

Keanu Reeves defelecting obsticles in The Matrix

“There is no spoon,” those famous words that Neo said in The Matrix. But how can this phrase be applied to guitar playing?

You may think I’m crazy, but I think that this is completely relevant to Guitar playing. In this scene a young boy appears to bend a spoon, however he then tells Neo that it is not the spoon that bends it is only himself. So I say to you “don’t try and bend the strings, but bend the space around the strings.’ My attempt to dispel you all from thinking I’m crazy probably hasn’t worked yet, but stay with me.

It’s All in Your Head

The thing I’m really talking about is mindset. Put yourself in Jimi’s shoes for one second and you might start to understand what I’m going on about. When a guitar was in his hands he could conquer anything. Any bend. Any slide. Any hammer-on or pull-off. Anything. But why was this? Practice? Partially. Musical Influences? Slightly. He was god? Probably not.

Practice Will Only Get You So Far

The main reason he could achieve his guitaring excellence was because of one thing…Belief. Without this you will never achieve anything. This works for guitaring, but can also be applied to careers, relationships and so on. There might be a few sceptics out there umming and arring. But let me ask you this … Who practiced more Hendrix or Vai? Everyone’s answer should be Vai. You’ve all heard about his 30 hour workout right? But then if I asked you who was a better guitarist the response might be more equal and might even favour Hendrix more.

Jimi Says Believe

The point I am trying to make is that practice, hard work and determination can get you so far but the common denominator with all the great guitarists, as with Hendrix and Vai, is Belief. With belief comes practice, hard work and determination. This is where I think of my own guitaring and the hurdles that are stopping me from improving. When people ask me if I play guitar I usually have two responses; I used to play, or, that I’m not very good. Both of which completely lack any self-belief. So before, when I was analysing what I needed to do to improve my playing; more practice, learn a new scale, a new riff. What I really needed to do was believe in myself. Without believing in myself I cannot and will not improve. Ever!

So, do you believe in yourself? Is there a spoon? Because if there is you really need to rethink your reasons for playing guitar.

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  • Great article. So true. It’ll all in the mind.

    • I agree guys. Seems that when you let go of any mental distractions, this is where the flow occurs. I think I need to meditate for a bit… ah ummmm 😉

  • Mickey, no meditation required. Just plug your guitar in, watch the matrix, and it’s all sorted. Good Times.

  • Cool post. 8) I agree that self-doubt can be crippling. While we should appraise our own abilities realistically, and not believe we can do things that we clearly can’t, I think what you’re referring to is the self-doubt that makes us think that we just cannot be good enough. That stops us from trying things – and makes us freeze if we put a finger wrong. My attitude has always been one of playing because I enjoy it, rather than trying to achieve some benchmark – which might nit have been helpful if I were trying to be a world-class player, but has helped me keep the sort of belief in myself needed to just play without really stressing about it: to just (sometimes) forget about the spoon 😉

  • minstrel

    Yeah. Have you guys read ‘Zen Guitar’? Recommended by a good friend. Similar stuff. Love your axe. Do not compare yourself to others. Do not talk negatively to yourself. Claim your right to love your guitar and be a musician, regardless of your skill level. It is so hard to forget these fundamentals, but so imprtant to try to remember them.

  • Good article and I will add that no matter what style of music you play, someone, somewhere is waiting to hear it. . .

  • Kurt Kelley

    I thought the Matrix was one of the most boring movies I ever saw. I actually fell asleep at the theatre. Keanu Reaves as a some kind of savior?? Please. I kept waiting for him to say “Whoa, Dude!” and “Excellent!”

    • In that case, we hope that you got more out of our article than you did with the movie 😉

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