Heat Wave: Baby Steps

Sophia Shen

For any guitar player, developing callouses on your fingers is a rite of passage. For me, up until a few weeks ago, it was an inhibitor, the pain deterring me from ever seriously pursuing guitar lessons or trying to teach myself to play. However, despite my past attempts to maintain my dainty ukulele player hands, I ended up having to bite the bullet and finger-pick through the pain, in the name of music production this cycle. 

Similar to birds, the tips of my fingers no longer exist

I entered SMW this summer with goals and standards in mind; not only would I produce my own song, but it would also be a good song. It would be a song other people wanted to listen to. This behavior of setting high (and sometimes unreasonable) expectations for myself isn’t new to me or my time at The Wave this cycle. I’m always pushing myself to greatness, and sometimes that can really weigh on me. I am easily frustrated by my lack of experience, and those mental barriers that I face can really crimp my style. Fortunately, the challenges I set out for myself were a little different this time around. For one thing, I had ideas for how to shape and improve my song from the get-go. For another, there was something I could physically do to better my musical abilities – tough it out and learn to play guitar. 

RBF stands for resting bass face

When you listen to my song at the end of the summer, you’ll hear not one, not two, not three, but four separate guitar parts, plus maybe a bass part, if I’m feeling particularly energetic in the coming weeks. For someone who had barely touched acoustic guitar until a month and a half ago, diving straight into musical composition involving electric guitar and bass was a daunting task, but I managed it. Though I invited some friends to help me play the guitar and bass parts in my song’s final draft, my rough draft was completely self-generated. I wrote the parts in my head, on a piano, and on my oboe, and transferred them onto different instruments accordingly, and played whatever needed playing for the scratch track. I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing my goal of branching out from what I’m used to (a more simple ukulele approach) and also for believing in myself until I could meet my expectations. Though my posture is deplorable, and I couldn’t manage vibrato if my life depended on it, I made some baby steps this cycle. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working so hard on with all of you! Stay tuned! (GCEA on ukulele, EADGBE on guitar)