So, I’m kind of into music(thank you, captain obvious) and because of that, I’ve had many people say the same thing to me over the years. “You’re so into music, I can’t believe you don’t play an instrument”. I’ve never really had a great response to that.
Back in junior high, I played the trumpet for a couple of years but I never really liked it. At about the same time, my eye sight began to change and I needed glasses. For some reason, I was scared to tell my parents. I began to sit in the front row of each class so I could see the chalk board without squinting. In band class, I could not read the music in front of me because I couldn’t see the music stand clearly. Again, I never told my folks and I have no memory of why. My friend Dave C, who also played the trumpet, sat next to me in band class. Since I could not see the music, I would look over at what he was playing and then play the same note about a second behind him. Needless to say, I was not a very good member of the band. I did eventually get glasses but I still gave up on the trumpet. Brass instruments just were not for me.
I did not pick up another instrument until the early 90’s. By that time, I was heavily into folk and roots music. I had a tax return coming to me and I was about to get married that year. I thought it was probably wise to spend the money on myself before the money became “our” money and was spent on something boring like furniture. So, I bought a mandolin and a book on how to play it. And I then discovered how little aptitude I really have for playing music. I goofed around with it a little but never really put much time or effort into it. It was really hard for me to read a book and understand what to do on the mandolin. I considered taking lessons but money was tight. So it sat there and collected dust for 24 years in various closets and basements. Until now!
We had a guy’s poker night last month and I asked Jim and Greg if they were going to bring their guitars. It’s fun to sing after we’ve all had a few drinks and I’ve taken everyone’s money(I’m not that good. They’re that bad). Greg suggested I bring the mandolin. I thought, sure, why not? They taught me a couple of chords and I strummed along with them as best I could. You know what? It was really a lot of fun.
So, for the past five weeks or so, I’ve been practicing just about every day. I still have little to no natural aptitude for it. It does not come easy to me at all. But, I have slowly improved. In just five short weeks I’ve gone from “what is that god awful screech?” and “holy crap, will you please stop making that terrible racket?” to now actually hitting the correct note once in a while. I’m pretty sure that if I keep this up, I will be semi-competent in 6-12 months. Whatever. It’s really a great deal of fun.
There are a couple of reasons why it’s a bit easier for me this time around. First of all, Jim and Greg have been very encouraging and Jim has generously helped me along and taught me quite a bit. Secondly, the internet makes this much, much easier. Instead of a book, I can watch video lessons. I can also print out music with the chords on it and strum along with easy rock songs.
My goal is to eventually, one day in the distant future, be able to play this:
Now if I could only sing like Levon, that would really be something. Rock on!
And maybe in five years or so, this: