Monday, December 12, 2011


Last September I decided to learn how to play the guitar. I really wanted a piano because I already know how to play one. A guitar is cheaper and transportable and doesn't require removing my favorite writing chair from my favorite writing view.

A guitar is something new.

I'm an adult, so I can do what ever I want, right?

Fine. There's more.

I was madly in love, and I wanted my love to write us a love song on his 12-string guitar. Love did not write our song, and I was determined to write and play a song of my own. I stared up at a wall of beautiful guitars in awe and indecision. I walked out of the music store with a lefty acoustic, a hard case, and thee months of lessons.

Playing the guitar requires diligence and practice and then more practice and diligence. Unlike the straight line of a piano, the guitar operates under the theory of chaos. Guitars make no logical sense.

I do not do chaos.

For the first month I couldn't feel the fingertips in my left hand. I had a blister on my right thumb from strumming. I couldn't read guitar tab. I played everything up-side-down. I practiced 30 minutes every night. I showed myself no mercy. My teacher* laughed.

Six months ago, I wrote a song full of love and joy. I sang it until I didn't cry anymore.

I love play making music as much as I love writing. The cool thing about a guitar is that you can make the same note or chord at least two ways. I learned more than how to make a pretty song and a chord.
  • I learned chaos theory--now I can find my way in and out of almost any kind of trouble
  • I learned patience for those times when no one hears me
  • I leaned diligence because I can say it again tomorrow
  • I learned to be gentle with myself so I can sleep at night
I still can't play that song I wrote on the guitar. The trouble is the F-cord.

I stopped practicing, and I am here at the beginning.


I'm not a beginner because I'm learning how to strum or where to put my fingers or how to make cords. I'm beginning because I've lost the strength in my left hand. It gets tired to fast to make it through a 30 minute lesson. My bars are muted on the high strings and require both strength in your left hand the muscles of your lower back. Bars are also absolutely necessary to play an F-cord. I'm back to my fourth lesson: Power cords...only this time I get to play with  three fingers instead of two. Soon, with diligence and patience and gentleness, I'll play an F-chord, and then I'll play that song.

Beginnings are new and humbling and exciting and petrifying and joyful. Where have you stopped practicing? Are you ready to begin again? What's new in this beginning?

*Thanks to Charlie, my teacher--F-chord extraordinaire.