Introverts, Extroverts and Guitar-troverts

Posted: March 13, 2012 by phanson in Tips & Tricks

Wow! Just saw another great video at Ted.com. Author Susan Cain talked about being an introvert versus an extrovert. Our current society believes extroverts are better; they are the cool people at school, at the office, at a party…

Though we praise extroverts, Susan named a few of the greatest people in history who were introverts: Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi. These introverts rose to be in front of people not because it was their natural state but because it was the right thing to do.

It’s important to be alone to cultivate your ideas; the whole group concept is overrated. Great achievements are not usually by committee. I think of the great songwriting team, Lennon and McCartney. If you listen closely you can tell which is a “Paul” song and which is a “John” song. They would bounce a lyric or idea off each other, but the basic songs were written by just one guy.

For the most part our rugged individual style has morphed from farmers, tough settlers and entrepreneurs, to the 21st century concept of less individualism with more focus on group achievements. Private offices have become open office spaces with cubicles,  private desks in schools have become tables where four to five students sit and face each other.

I got to thinking about myself. Over the years I’ve learned to be an extrovert, to be in front of a crowd and speak loudly. But, I’m one of the most introverted people I know. Deep down I crave solitude and peace. Furthermore every accomplishment I’m proud of was done mainly by me. For example, my new album Mindscanner, or the Boss Tone Radio podcast. Of course I had help from great drummers for the album, and the podcast has some great web and art people, but for the most part I do the whole thing.

Over the years, teaching at GIT, and working for Boss demoing guitar gear has forced to me to be extroverted. For example, I fly all over the country and go to music stores, attend music events, and most of the time I’m the center of attention all day long.  It’s great in small doses but often it’s in large doses and not being naturally extroverted, it’s really tough and wears me out.  All day long, being in front of people, is tough for me. However, we also must face reality, sometimes as musicians we’ll have to stretch outside our comfort zone to make a living. It’s sure better than flipping burgers or working at Home Depot.

Being alone is a prerequisite for all musicians. To master an instrument, takes thousands of hours of solitude. I’ve practiced tons, just me and that piece of wood with wires on it. Practice cannot be done by committee. Go down your list of favorite musicians, I’ll bet they are introverts. Some of my favorites; Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Michael Schenker and Eddie Van Halen are just a few. Okay, I don’t know these guys well enough to say they are definitely introverts, but I’ll bet for the most part they are. I don’t think you can really put the time into mastering an instrument if you are a true extrovert.

Click for Susan’s talk

Susan’s book:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking


Comments
  1. Mauro Samuel says:

    Awesome article, very interesting, thanks for posting it Paul.

  2. soumojit.sarkar says:

    i like i very much…

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