Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that elude us. It can feel like everyone else is born with certain knowledge and you managed to either lose it somewhere along the way, possibly in order to make room for something more important, or you just never had that particular piece of information from the beginning. You could have easily gone through your entire life never even realizing that there was something so obvious, something very remedial of which you are blissfully unaware. Until… you decide to learn to play the guitar. Well, at least that’s what did it for me.
Apparently strumming a guitar is just something everyone can do from birth. Everyone that isn’t me, of course. Watching my “Guitars for Dummies” DVD (I swear that is the name) I couldn’t help but notice the obvious lack of a chapter devoted to teaching the proper strumming technique. I didn’t let myself get distracted though, I was confident that I would be able to pick it up just from watching the demo. Boy was I wrong. There seems to be a certain finesse to doing this. You can’t just drag your pick along the strings and have it sound fluid and even. Once again I say “you” when I mean me. I was a bit frustrated and started to seriously doubt that I’d even be able to play at all.
Then I noticed that strumming wasn’t even my biggest problem; I couldn’t seem to strum (or do my horrid version of strumming) in time with the demo. I tried and tried but was alway a beat or a beat and a half behind. I can’t keep time. I attempted the tapping the foot thing but that just messed me up even more. Of course, that makes sense. If I can’t keep time by strumming why would tapping my foot be any different? I doubt that my feet are any more rhythmic than my hands. So, I decided to put down the guitar and just clap along to the demo. Nope, not happening. It would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so upsetting and sad. I don’t doubt that my pets had a good chuckle. But all I could think was how happy I was that no one was there to see me but that I was going to have to include this in my blog.
However, I am determined and refuse to give up. I continued to practice with the demo for 10 minutes until my fingers couldn’t press the strings anymore.
The following day I kept wanting to pick up the guitar and practice more but was uneasy about doing so because I knew I’d look stupid and Dan was home. Then, before bed, he went to take a shower. I jumped up and ran right over to that stupid guitar that had been taunting me all day. I held by the neck in front of me and said, “You will not win. I can do this.”
I sat down with the guitar in my lap and it was like a miracle. My fingers went straight to the right strings in order to make a proper E chord. “I CAN do this,” I thought to myself. I started strumming. (This is where my life tends to be like a bad comedy.) It sounded awful. I refused to stop. I looked straight ahead at the wall and just kept strumming. I started slightly bobbing my head (out of time I’m sure).
Suddenly, I noticed that it sounded like something familiar. It was getting smoother and the timing was getting much more even. Next thing I know I’m singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat right along with my playing. I was playing a song, and it sounded like a song. I couldn’t believe it. I sat there strumming away for at least 20 minutes, I hardly noticed the pain in my fingertips because I was so focused on the song in my heart. I was playing. I won!
When I finally stopped and set down the guitar I laughed a little at myself. I guess I did have all the same knowledge as everyone else. I just needed a little time to pull it out and give myself the opportunity to recall it and properly put it to work.
Tomorrow, D chord!!!