Friday, April 26, 2013

Music to someone's ears, I hope


I took up playing the guitar about three years ago at the age of 40. No, it was not a midlife crisis. And I did not expect this to propel me into a new career where I play at coffee houses with the hopes of being found by some record producer picking us his double, double decaf latte with chia sprinkles. I decided to do it because I always wanted to learn to play the guitar.


In fact, I started this quest when I was 16 years old. At that time, I was 3 years removed from playing the flute. I discovered that playing the flute would not get me girls and I did not expect another rising trend of rock bands with flute players like they had in the 70s. Nonethless, I got my first guitar from my parents. I was disappointed because it was a used acoustic guitar stored up in the attic, which probably did not see the light of day since the height of Joan Baez in the 60s. I tried playing and gave up in a month blaming my failures on the guitar. What do you expect from the mercurial mind and nanosecond patience of a teenager.


Now, 24 plus later, I decided to take another stab at it. This time I got lessons and have been playing for 3 years. And I love it. As frustrating the experience can be, especially playing an F bar chord (which should have three more letters w "ing" after it), I really find it peaceful and relaxing. There is almost this Zen like quality when you are playing a song that actually sounds like the original song. It grounds me and places me in the moment. There are many times where I will be playing and next thing I know it is two hours later.


Also, my kids play instruments, vioin for my daugther and drums for my son. Although when we play together it may sound like something from the deleted auditions from the X Factor, it is the coolest thing. We are creating art. It may be the musical version of finger painting art, but it is art itself. More importantly, it our art. It makes me realize there is a lot more to life than work. There are others things equally as important, such as playing with your own family garage band on a Saturday morning.


I do not know how many times I have heard someone say that "I wish I learned how to play . . ." Many times, they say to themselves that they will do it when they retire or when the kids are off to the college or when they have more time. The problem is that there is always a reason to delay or another excuse. If I waited to learn how to play the guitar until I retired, I would probably be too old to have the patience and the physical skills to play such an instrument. Now, when I retire, I expect to have been playing for 30 plus years and, may be, just may be, I will be relatively good where I could play at a coffee shop with or without the musica producer.