Decoding Funtwo (Guitar Superhero)

Here’s Funtwo (real name Jeong-Hyun Lim), the 25-year-old South Korean guitar virtuoso whose version of Pachelbel’s Canon has been viewed 58 million times on YouTube.

I love this video for two reasons: 1) it rocks; 2)  the mindset behind it. You would assume that Funtwo – whose playing has been compared to Hendrix and Django Reinhardt—would possess a little bravado. But it’s the opposite.

In fact, as Funtwo makes clear in this NY Times article by Virginia Heffernan, the very reason he posted it was to get suggestions on the mistakes he was making (that’s also one of the reasons he didn’t show his face). “I think play is more significant than appearance,” he said. “Therefore I want the others to focus on my fingering and sound.”

He’s still that way. “I am always thinking that I’m not that good,” Funtwo said “…Some said my vibrato was quite sloppy. And I agree that so these days I’m doing my  best to improve my vibrato skill.”

The conventional way to interpret Funtwo’s mindset would be to draw a moral lesson: to point out that Funtwo is a humble, virtuous guy. But in this case the lesson isn’t just moral—it’s neural. Funtwo’s mindset – attuned to errors, ever-reaching—is precisely the mindset that grows and hones skill circuits.