Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I have always loved music--but, to be honest, I never loved it enough, at least as a child, to want to learn how to make it.  My house was not a musical house.  There were no instruments there, no demands of lessons, no singing, no lost dreams of greatness on the musical stage to pass on.  The radio was always on in the car, though, and there was a record player, but new records rarely came into the house. There was no collection, no passion to chase.  Music was background noise.

Of course in my teen years that changed for me.  It was the 1970s, and music was all around.  But you know, my nose was probably stuck in a book, or trying to figure out how to get the movies.  But I have a collector gene, and I slowly started to accumulate albums, and eight track tapes, and then cassette tapes, and then...well, you know.  My taste in music was eclectic, and I really hadn't found an identity there. Really, I don't know that I heard music back then, I just listened to it.  My early training didn't leave me.  It was background noise.

Sometime in my early 40s, I found myself at a place where I had the opportunity (a little extra money, time, and desire) to explore some of the things I felt I had missed in my life.  Playing guitar was one of those things. As you might have figured out, I have no musical inclination at all.  I'm convinced that a math brain helps tremendously when it comes to playing music.  So does a certain kind of memory, one where melodies are deposited deep in the soul, in the DNA, in the cell membranes, just waiting to be called out.  I didn't have that.  All I had was desire and opportunity.

So for almost three years, I took guitar lessons once a week.  I practiced every day, played my scales diligently, listened to the kind of music I wanted to play (I had discovered American roots/bluegrass by then), suffered through the pain of the strings, and overcame that by building some pretty decent calluses, and in the end, well, I couldn't play guitar worth a shit.  I was terrible at it.  Terrible.

But it wasn't wasted time.  It was an experience, a journey, a wonder put to rest, and so many other things, that I can't begin to count how I benefited, and still do, from those lessons, from that opportunity.  I have no regrets.  Just the opposite. I'm really grateful that I took the time to explore, the time to fail, and the time to grow. 

I will never play guitar in front of a live audience, and that's OK.  But when I go to a concert now, when I listen to music, I hear it.  I hear it in a way that was never possible before. What a wonderful thing that is...to hear and understand.

It's never too late to try something new, but don't expect the journey to be anything but a surprise.  The calluses are worth it.

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