Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Practice makes... well, more practice really

It's never a good day when you come face-to-face with your limitations. I've had several such days of late. Moments when my dreams and expectations don't quite match my realities. I had another one today.

Picture, if you will, me sitting on a train, face pressed against the window, white iPod headphone cord snaking down into my handbag. I'm singing along (inside my head only, because I know there's nothing worse than sitting next to someone who's actually singing along to an iPod - hello tuneless, uncool person) to Kate Miller-Heidke's 'The Last Day on Earth', the swelling, soaring, aching longing of which perfectly suits the dramatic coastline out my window. Suddenly, into my head pops a vision of me sitting, not on the train, but on a chair at home, guitar in hand, playing said song and singing for real. This beautiful moment lasts all of five seconds - until the sum total of my guitar playing skills comes flooding in to knock it sidewards. Five notes and seven chords do not an epic pop song make.

The reality that every beginner musician faces is that what they want to play and what they can actually play are two completely different things. I can play 'For He's A Jolly Good Fellow'. I cannot play the Crowded House songbook (Neil, Neil, why did you have to make them so hard?) I can fudge my way through 'Me and Bobby McGee' and even 'Can't Find a Better Man', but not really. I'm better at 'Mary Had A Little Lamb'.

The Lovely B, my guitar teacher, is teaching Mr6 and I to understand tabulation as well as chords. She wants to teach us how to play the theme from Inspector Gadget. To do so, she is preparing us with the basics - we are learning the opening riff of Nirvana's 'Come As You Are'. This is fun for me. Mr6 not so much. He needed a full explanation of who Nirvana was, and why you'd want to play their songs. Much the same when we learned 'Smoke On The Water' - trying to explain to a six-year-old why they might want to play a 40-year-old song in a guitar shop in an ironic fashion is not easy.

All I can do is persist. If I give up now, I'll be in exactly the same boat in 40 years as I'm in now. I'll be wishing I'd stuck with it when I was young. So I'll take those limitations, raise you another couple of terms of lessons and, hopefully, start working on 'Roll Out The Barrel' to play in the old folks home when I get there.


  1. Stick with it, it's so worth it. Can't wait to hear you play and sing Bobby McGee. Now there's a song worth learning...

  2. I used to take guitar lessons as a child. Loved it to begin with and played at a few little music festivals in our local church hall. But I didn't like to practice and eventually gave it up. Now of course I regret doing that and so wish I could play now. Huzz and I often talk about buying a guitar and trying to have another shot together. Maybe you've spurred me on. Keep up the practice.

  3. C'mon Al - you can do it, you can do it! Although if I had to play Nirvana, I'd probably skive.

    Don't stop or you'll end up like me and the old Joanna.

  4. Good on you for sticking to it. I'm sure you could 'wing it' a bit with all your natural style and rhythm.

    The Geege is quite partial to a Crowded House number. I am sure he would 'sell you the secret' when next our paths meet IRL. I can see it now - a 'concert'. You, him and Mr6 poised over your g-tars, singing in harmony. Beautiful!

    I'd pay 20c for that :)

  5. The Inspector Gadget theme just might be the best guitar song to learn. Ever. I expect a recording to be posted of you and Mr6 dueting it up! =>

  6. I think you're awesome for taking on the lessons...one day I hope to be half as brave (and y'know, dedicated to actually practising) a woman as you are. Go you!


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