Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guitar Lessons for the Fun of it

Long time no see. But that is the fall, too little time too much to do. And since I did not have enough on my plate I signed up for guitar lessons. Just half an hour a week with travel that equates to about an hour every Wednesday night. That and at least a half an hour a day practicing what I learned. The half hour is what I try to put in until I can't feel the tips of my fingers or move my shoulder. Which is God's way of telling me he has heard enough noise for one day. Funny how things change when I was in the band in school it was a chore to practice now I put in as much time as I can muster until the old joints ache, because it is "fun".

My teacher is a young man, a kid really, in his very early 20's who is remarkably polite to the old geezer. In the first few lessons we have been going through a lot of theory. He has been teaching me and in some cases reminding me of things I had known many years ago. High school band is pretty much a dim memory but a lot of the theory came back when I started talking to Zairial.

He has a little bit of a mean streak though. He started off with Barre Chords. That for people not familiar is a chord shape that is made by barring all six strings with one finger. And it takes a fair bit of practice and strength in the finger to produce results. So for the first week or so I got very little music and a whole new world of pain out of my guitar. But I stuck it out and little by little the pain was replaced by music. He later told me it usually takes a student three or four weeks to get the hang of barre chords but the benefit is that they are very systematic and logical unlike the other method called CAGED or open chords. So that is what I have been up to for the past 4 weeks.

Last week he started to show me how to finger pick. I had a book but had not started to work from it. But now I know 3 different patterns and I have even started to pick out a few songs. And I must be doing something right because Ellen said that one even sounded like it was supposed to. She said "Is that Shenandoah?" which it was and a total surprise to me. I have no idea what the tune is supposed to sound like and the patterns I was picking out were not the melody so if she can recognize it I must be doing something right.

Finger picking has the added benefit of making your fingers on your right had sore. That as I understand it is to balance out the blisters and or calluses on the left hand. In finger picking you play three stings with the thumb and the other three strings with the index middle and ring fingers. It sounds very nice and more musical to my ear than strumming. But as with everything about the guitar it hurts for the first while. I have also read on the Internet that you need longer finger nails but the steel strings will break them and tear them up. Something else to look forward to.

But I think that I can get even. The whole point of this hobby is so that at some point I will be able to sing around the camp fire. That is when I get even. All the pain and soreness that I have been putting up with to learn the guitar will be nothing compared to what my audiences will have to put up with when I sing. Think of the worst contestant on American Idol and multiply it say tenfold. That is what I'll sound like. Add to that the fact that I can't remember lyrics and there you have it. My revenge. And the best part is that I sound great in my own mind so it won't bother me in the least!

Still banging away on the old axe...