Learning To Play Guitar

learning to play guitarLearning to play guitar isn’t as easy as this fourteen year old phenom makes it look. Heavy metal Vivaldi! I saw this video this morning and couldn’t wait to show it to my kids.

Coincidentally, I bought a guitar a couple of weeks ago and now the idea is that I will learn how to play. My sad (poor me) story is that a number of factors shut me down in my childhood, principally my mother who, for reasons unknown, insisted I play the piano rather than the trumpet or saxophone, my instrument of choice—so I played nothing.

In elementary school I clearly remember the day they came to test us for Band— etched in my mind because my hopes of musicianship were dashed when they told me I was tone deaf and was banished to the chorus where I misbehaved in the back row. This suited the teacher just fine as he didn’t really want my voice in the mix. The diagnoses of tone deafness went to my heart and I never thought much about playing an instrument or singing again for a good long time.

In my thirties I wrote a bunch of song lyrics that a good friend turned into songs and I even tried croaking one out. Thankfully this was before the age of computers and I no longer have the lyrics or the recording. But that moment in time was clearly a precursor to my recent purchase. Adam, my writing partner, assured me that I could carry a tune when singing along to a song, which I did obsessively, to the dismay of the people I used to work with. Carrying a tune and sounding good are clearly two different things.

Ten years later I finished a yoga class with three OM’s as usual, and after class mentioned being tone deaf. A student came up to me and announced that not only was I not tone deaf but my first OM was perfect A, the second OM went up an octave and the third one came back to the first A, and that it was frustrating for her because the tone of my voice was difficult for her to follow. I didn’t really understand what she meant but was fairly blown away by the revelation.

So now I am learning to play guitar, and with the help of numerous kind souls on YouTube, I am figuring my way around a fret board. A lesson or two is probably in the cards but I love teaching myself things and so far it has been pretty exciting. I do want to give a shout out to Andy from the UK whose many videos have been extremely helpful already. Every video I have watched has provided some little gem but Andy’s videos have been particularly illuminating and effective.

I bought a guitar for a whole host of reasons.

  • Learning is my reason for living. Simple as that. I have never cared much about achieving or succeeding but learning thrills me beyond belief.
  • I want to age well and I believe in the use it or lose method of brain function. I intuitively think that the coordination it will take to make music will serve my brain and ageing well.
  • My kids want to be musical and I want to encourage that as much as possible. Getting lessons for them would be fine but learning along with them will hopefully be fun and empowering for all of us.
  • I love what it takes to learn physical things involving muscle memory and repetitive patterning. Where I don’t think I would ever have had the patience for this when I was younger, I feel that if I simply stick with it and practice a half hour a day like I was told online, I’ll be able to play before long.
  • I’ve never really wanted to be anything but a musician.

Wish me luck!

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