Why I Play the Guitar - December 1, 1998

Hello, Readers.

    Welcome to the first entry into My Page. My goal is to create a forum in which, over the weeks, months, and years, I can talk to you about musical issues that are close to my heart. Having played guitar for nearly forty years, and having been a professional musician, composer, and teacher all my adult life, I figure I must have something to say about it. Over time, I look forward to discussing my musical opinions and philosophy, as well as addressing specific questions about guitar technique, theory, composition, and other fundamentals. I may throw in a book, cd, concert review, or personal profile. Maybe I'll indulge in a reminiscence. I will consider sharing any musical experience that is interesting to me, in hopes that it will be interesting to you too. I also look forward to creating a dialogue. I will encourage you to write via email and give me your feedback. The exchange of ideas will broaden all of our horizons, as well as keep this column vital. So, welcome, and I invite you to become a regular visitor to My Page.

    I would like to talk a little about my reason for being a guitarist. There really is only one reason. I love it. My love for the guitar has followed similar stages to a lifetime marriage. I began with giddy infatuation and physical attraction. When my parents bought me a guitar for my tenth birthday, I couldn't keep my hands off it. I practiced D and A7 chords til my fingers bled. Then I taped them up and played some more. 

    I went through periods of disillusionment with the guitar; times in which it didn't meet my expectations, times when I had to face my own shortcomings, times when it was just too hard. I had moments of transcendent bliss, times when the music my guitar and I made took me to places much bigger than myself, times when an audience response lifted me to a place of primal communal connection. I still have those times. Sometimes I fight with my guitar. Sometimes we are in sync. Most of the time, we are two imperfect beings, living together every day. The guitar is an integral part of me because I choose for it to be. 

    People often remark that they think I am unusually disciplined because of the amount of difficult, focused practicing I do. To me, discipline implies forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do. To the contrary, every day I get up, I can't wait to find what new secrets my guitar will reveal to me. I am dedicated to the guitar. I am dedicated to a lifetime of musical growth. I am dedicated to a lifetime of unlocking mysteries about myself, the world, and the universe through my practice. I am dedicated to giving the fruits of my work to anyone who finds value in it, so that I may contribute to the world's bounty of beauty, intelligence, and love.

    One more thing: For me, it is extremely important to keep my music in perspective with life. I will not follow my passion for guitar at the expense of connection with loved ones, humanity, or nature. For many years, I balanced being a single father with being a musician. The love and commitment I have for my wife cannot be expressed in this column. I value my friends and family. I try to be an informed contributor to my local and world community. I tell you this because I want to offer the concept that music making is not necessarily the end in itself. We musicians who are expanded by music have the opportunity to integrate our gift and pass it on to our loved ones and to the world.

(December 1, 1988)



Old School, by Paul Chasman and the "Great Gatleys"


Accompanied by Dan and Laurie Gatley on bass and vocals, Paul Chasman returns with 11 new original tunes that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. With his trademark sparkling guitar at the forefront, Paul’s poetic lyrics contrast life and mortality; grief and celebration; and light that penetrates the dark.