Don’t Fret over the Guitar
Dear Voracious Readers,
There has been a ridiculous lapse in correspondence for which I profusely apologize. My passion for writing has not dissipated, I assure you.
As you may recall, during a session of many “gone wrong” eyeglass fittings for a reunion back in 2011, the opinionated optician told me to get a hobby.
So, I did.
The doting aunt that I am discovered that my niece and nephew were taking up the guitar. Last summer, my mom and I strolled into her neighborhood guitar store and she directed me to a plastic guitar which even I knew was a bit beneath me. The “Guitar Guy” guided me to an adult guitar.
My mom suggested that “I sleep on it”. Of course she meant the idea of owning a guitar versus sleeping on an actual guitar, and I was all in. I bought the bag, the Mel Bay first-grade class book, some picks, and even a humidifier. I declared to “Guitar Guy” that I would be playing Elvis because “I have a thing for the King.”
I signed up for guitar lessons and by Thanksgiving I was teaching my nephew how to play “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” My sister-in-law gushed over the improvement in my nephew’s playing while I was there. We carried our bonding over to the tennis court and I cherish our one-on-one time – after all, he is only 6.
As I left the store one night, “Guitar Guy” looked at me and shook his head. Apparently, I was carrying the coveted guitar bag….upside down. He said, “You are going to snap your neck!” I gushed at this kindness and realized he was referring to my guitar’s neck, versus my well-being but I digress. As time would move on, “Guitar Guy” graduated to becoming my guitar’s life coach as he cares for everything ranging from aligning my guitar’s neck to attempting to explain proper pick holding technique, how to string it, but I digress, once again.
Fast forward to the beginning of the year and my teacher flew the coop, for understandable reasons. Given that I had just moved down the street from the guitar place, I was committed to taking lessons there. I had a five-week deviation with another teacher and it just wasn’t a good fit for either of us, so I switched teachers.
Today was my second lesson with “Fan Man”, my third teacher. He is truly a teacher – in every sense of the word. He is polite and encouraging, yet firm in the direction of the course plan. He knows I want to play Patsy Cline and Elvis but is able to convince me to learn the notes, too, – a huge step in achieving MY goals which include playing fun music. After months of working on Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight”, it is FINALLY coming together. I can play it in my sleep and when I think I am done, it seems that there is always something else to add to it, to make it better.
The fundamentals are the foundation of future success, as boring as they may be. I did everything I could to derail my teacher from working with me on the most boring song imaginable. Yet, he kept throwing in compelling reasons as to why this is worth our time. “Watch the beat, stay close to the fret, embrace the metronome, go, Lauren, go!”
His parting words as I left were to get out of my head and just play. A couple of hours later, I took out the guitar and played the most boring song… twenty times, so it seemed, until it sounded the way it should. Out of respect to him and out of respect to me. “G-F-E-DD-C-B….”
Later that day, I saw Nicholas Barron, an established local guitarist, perform down the street. He reminds me of Joe Cocker but looks like Vince Vaughn…who writes, sings, and plays the songs; a one-man band emitting acoustic sounds from his mouth. He had just written a song earlier that day and performed it for us for the first time. What?!! I was awestruck by this guy’s mastery of the fretboard. His fingers literally looked like a star as they danced along the strings and music magically emerged. Before the show, I explained to him that I was in pre-school for guitar (6 months) and he laughed as he has been playing for 29 years…so that is a fair statement.
At the break, I proudly showed Nick my beat-up fingers on my left hand, as a badge of honor. He looked at my hands and responded, “Girl, you don’t know what ruined hands are.”
So, another week passes by without the mastery for “Are you Lonesome Tonight” by Elvis. But I can play the chords really well, which is 150% further than where I was two weeks before I started with my current teacher. I have no doubt that “G-F-E-DD-C-B….” will lead to tons of other songs. Like my fingers, my eagerness for immediate gratification will soften and fun music will triumph.