Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Learning Acoustic Guitar

When I was a child, I took guitar lessons for a short time. I ultimately preferred piano and stuck with that in high school and college and then came back to it fairly often throughout life. Lately, a good deal of acoustic guitar music has been making its way into my playlists from all sorts of genres: Gillian Welch, Federico Aubele, Willie Nelson, Jakob Lindberg, Emmylou Harris, and Ryan Bingham for example. I’ve also been listening to a lot of classic seventies’ acoustic guitar music from the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Heart, and others.

All this musical input started me thinking about giving the guitar another go. While I love piano, I only play classical music on it. I just can’t see learning to play acoustic guitar songs on piano. Also, my poetry over the last year has almost all been written with rhyme and meter. Very little blank verse. The stuff just screams ‘song lyrics’! If I could learn guitar, maybe I could eventually write my own songs! Of course, I’m not sure where that would lead because, at the end of the day, I can’t perform any songs I might write since I’m utterly incapable of singing.

Be that as it may, I took the plunge and started taking lessons. Positively, because I already know how to read music, my instructor was able to skip past a lot of introductory material. We’re focused on technique, learning chords, and finger picking. This was a big relief because - as anyone who has learned to play an instrument knows - the initial songs you are assigned as a student are absolutely awful. Nothing you would ever keep in your repertoire or perform for anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s a bit discouraging, and I had definite doubts I'd be able to stick with my lessons if that was the only stuff I'd be playing (especially at my age!).

Speaking of my age, I was surprised that I initially felt a twinge of self-consciousness about starting guitar lessons. I had this feeling that it’s something mostly done by kids and teens. And mostly it is. However, I just refused to let myself think that way (or if I couldn’t help thinking that way, at least not let it hinder me). It would be really sad to pass up new experiences for no reason other than my age or that ‘most people don't do such and such’. Once I signed up, this fear pretty much evaporated.

Now the only twinge I feel is the stinging in the fingertips of my left hand. Steel strings can be very cruel!


Danny Japan said...

Music is not a matter of age. Music is love. I started playing guitar at age 12. When I became aware of my uniqueness, I ceased to compare, and I started playing piano at age 27.
Maybe, when I am an old grandpa, I am starting to play cello. Who knows. Music is love.

Pete said...

You are right, Danny!