Guitar Lesson #2: Think of Your Guitar as a Date.
For a girl who doesn’t date a lot, I certainly treat my inanimate objects as men. Hold up, that came out wrong. I’ll explain. I’ve been known to describe wines as if they were datable. A wine might be strong and exotic, but you get bored with it. This wine is superficial and though you admire its body and might try to smell it, you won’t be “seeing” it again. A wine could also be endlessly complex and compliment everything. This would be a wine you’d see yourself having a long-term relationship with. This is a similar approach I am taking with my guitar.
The first lesson/date with the guitar was the nervous get to know you lesson. How to hold the guitar just right, how to sit and stand with it is just like walking in your new trying-too-hard-date-heels or a dress that fit just fine the last time you went on a date, but somehow totally shrank while sitting in the closet for the last 2 years. As if my own uncoordinated self wasn’t enough to deal with, add in a guitar and you have that other entity to dance the spacial tango with.
Lesson one was full of little hesitant shuffles back and forth similar to when a date reaches for the door and tries to open it for you and you weren’t expecting it at all. Once you finally untangle yourselves from the “oh, no, you go ahead, oh, okay, thanks, if you insist” snafu, you have to wonder if you’ve just shamed your entire gender by being unable to suppress the smile resulting from his act of chivalry, no matter how ungracefully you responded to it. And, then you panic that he took your smiling as mocking him for his gesture. And then you realize, you’re over thinking this date. WAY over thinking it. And guess what…there was copious over thinking of the guitar.
But, at some point all that tension and nervousness is relieved once you are calmly told not to fret (pun intended, thank you very much.) And, all of a sudden, you aren’t bracing yourself for him to tell you he has a slight drug problem or believes in open relationships. All of a sudden you breath deep, trust, and enjoy the moment. You have a friggin’ guitar in your hands. And you can play two notes. That is two notes you couldn’t play last week. And that is a world of possibilities right there.
The Waiting Period:
I’m not going to lie, there were certainly some awkward silences my first week alone with the guitar. I picked him up, the guitar, just to be clear, twice. Hey Guitar, come here often? No, not like that. I know you’re supposed to practice a little each day, but I guess I am a bit old-fashioned. Being a Princess, I guess I was hoping the guitar would make the first move. I waited the traditional 3 days for my guitar to call me, but then I realized…it’s as a guitar. So, instead of batting eyelashes and flipping hair from across the room seductively (which by the way, when I do it, totally has the opposite reaction from the desired one) I decided to take the initiative. My delay though cost me valuable time. And sadly, this was not English class. You can not BS guitar. Not if you are void of any real talent at least.
As my Guitar Guru, or Guitaru, Rob says, you can not cram practice in at the last-minute. Sage advice. And, as I started my second lesson it showed. I made a pinky swear to practice more over the coming week and by doing so, was allowed to advance to the next stage.
Once the guitar found a comfortable place in my lap… okay maybe that wasn’t the best example of typical first date etiquette. My metaphor has strayed a tad… move to strike from the record? I’ll start again.
Once I was familiar with the guitar and knew it wasn’t going to humiliate me, I was able to prove that my right hand was ready to be joined by the left. Now I know what you are thinking, I was skiing without poles for the first lesson. I thought I was going to be stuck for all three with a lonely left hand. But, I was surprised to get to introduce lefty into the mix. Ah, now this felt right. This was date two. This was when you know how to walk through a door, you choose a dress that fits, and you can laugh about how nervous you were the last time.
Putting those fingers on the fret did wonders for my confidence. Like when you walk to the restroom and you totally know your date is checking you out as you go. Bonus if you make it back to the table without toilette paper stuck to your shoe. I was finding my groove. There was a noticeable change in my posture and my heart rate as I got closer to my guitar. An exercise referred to as Monkey Bars was next and as we just walked through this drill I was not paying attention to where it was leading. One minute I’m just plucking away and the next…I became a musician.
Music to My Ears:
Just like that, our exercise, sped up, played in succession,turned into music. Those seven notes, out of nowhere, became, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. A star was literally born. Take that Mozart, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Steven Hawking. A Star. From MY fingers. That was me that just did that. I believe there may have been a squeal. Sometimes the 6-year-old in me takes over. It happens.
Now, aside from the rock concerts I sing in the shower and the car which can hardly be called music, I have not been responsible for making music in nearly 25 years. I was unprepared for a melody to escape me so soon and for it to give me that much joy. This guitar moment was like my date having dessert delivered to the table along with the bill that he has already paid somehow, thus eliminating the terrible “who is paying dilemma” and simultaneously, confidently expressing that this date went well in his eyes, allowing me to stop freaking out about the seed I had in my teeth from appetizer to main course. Clearly it did not totally gross him out. And, clearly I don’t totally suck at guitar. I can in fact play a song. Well, part of a song, but it’s looking really promising.
The High Note:
And, then I played it again. It was not a fluke at all. It was not a coincidence. This is like my date saying, “What? I have a black three-legged cat too!” And, now you are stuck. This is where you are torn between ending on a high note or continuing to discover of all the other things you and your date have in common. You want to save something for a third date, you don’t want to get too carried away, but the temptation to rush ahead and just finish the song is awfully strong. But it’s agreed. After the initial shock and excitement, this is enough to handle and take in. Pace yourself. Try not to pass out. Part ways. Smiling. Proud that you didn’t totally F it all up. Amazed at being 36 and taking on this challenge of learning something new, and scary, and totally foreign. And, awesome.
Third Times a Charm?
And now, practice, practice, practice until the third lesson. Will it be the end of this affair? Will the guitar and the Princess go their separate ways? Will they have one great song together? Will they leave it unresolved, incomplete, will they always wonder how the song would have sounded and what could have been? Or, will they somehow find a way to continue to explore a future together? Stay tuned…