Saturday, February 6, 2016

Guitar and Life (#socs)

I’m writing this on my Kindle Fire as we wait in the church parking lot before Mass. Nothing like typing with one finger.

I might have told this story before: long before the stroke, I attended the National Guitar Workshop. My instructor gave each of us some individual advice. For just about everyone, his advice was something specific to a facet of playing the guitar (work on II-V-I progressions, pentatonic scales, etc.), but for me, the advice was to “make the music come from somewhere besides your hands, fingers, and arms.” He told me I looked like I was wrestling with it. It dawned on me that I was exhausted after about half an hour because I was fighting with it, trying to make it look easy. By the end of a session my arms were cramping and my fingers were stiff.

I think I learned to play that way because the person I took lessons from originally liked to make me ill-at-ease, and I was trying so hard not to make mistakes. Even after I quit taking lessons (about six months later than I should have), I always felt defensive about my playing, at least in front of others. I could jam like a wild man in my room, but in front of others I was useless.

I decided I would take the approach where I’d forget there was anyone else there. I’d keep my ears open, but as far as I was concerned the music I was hearing was coming from a record. And it worked.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda Hill at her blog:

I hope this works…

from The Sound of One Hand Typing


  1. Too bad you weren't anywhere close to where my husband was, who is a professional musician, having played guitar for over 50 years (and very good at it). He's a great teacher; he would have worked with you to get you to play and to play well if you put in the effort :)


    1. Guess there's no going back in time, though... I'm sure I could have found a better teacher who was more willing to work with me and was more in tune with my interests, but I was eleven...