Last time we met here for Musical Mondays, I had won a college talent show (okay, amongst maybe 10 people, but still). But I basically stopped playing guitar for four years after that. What happened?
Well, I was busy. I turned 21, for one, and was henceforth compelled to conduct tons of anthropological research on the drinking establishments in Geneva and then Atlanta. I’d pick up my guitar once in a while and try to play songs that I’d known, or songs that I wanted to learn. Without real diligence, though, it’s hard to get better. An hour or two every few months will sustain one’s knowledge of chords, but you’ll never improve if that’s all you play.
Then, I fell in love, and that makes you want to sing! So I started playing all the time. Well, that’s an exaggeration. But let me elaborate. On one of the first nights that I met and hung out with Xavier at his house, the guitars came out. (He has a few). His awesome friend Jenny (hi Jenny! I think you’re reading this!) and I started talking about Bright Eyes. I remembered that I used to know one of their songs, so I grabbed one of the acoustics and began strumming a hackneyed rendition of “First Day of My Life.” I’d been drinking, so I even had the courage to sing a little. It was rusty, of course, but fun. The guitar was eventually turned over to someone more worthy of its noise-making potential. Hoping I’d be hanging out with Xavier again, I started practicing more so we could play together the next time.
Now, Xavier is a talented musician who can play pretty much any instrument and sings really well. He’ll play in front of assembled groups of people and actually impress them. When we are out in public and he ends up playing, people like to joke around and ask if that’s how he got me to go out with him. And I always say, “Nope! He actually heard me play first.” But he did play me lots of lullabies in the beginning of our relationship, so now when he plays, it’s hard not to fall asleep.
So that brings us to the present. I’ve been spending a lot more time with guitars, and singing too (but that’s strictly a private hobby, as I am petrified to sing in a serious manner in front of people). It’s really fun to have someone to play with. We ‘jam’ at home at least once a week. My current guitar focus is trying to work on my fingerpicking and developing a few more strumming patterns, since I seem to play every song the same way.
I’m also learning the basics of piano. My idea was, if I can learn the basic theory behind it, it will help me with understanding guitar as well. A couple of weeks ago I learned the major and minor chords, as well as the 7s. I’ve been practicing those hard. The hand stretching is funny. When you first start playing guitar, stretching your fingers all over the fret board is overwhelming. But then you get used to it. Stretching your fingers for piano is a completely different ball game! For each chord, you’re supposed to hit four keys at once. For instance, if you’re playing a C, you hit the C, E, G, and then the next C key. My little hands can barely stretch over to play the second C without hitting B. I keep telling myself that little kids can do this so I should be able to also. I’ll get it eventually, but in the meantime, it’s something to keep working on! It’s also challenging to learn how to play chords with both hands. I’m very used to my guitar, where my left hand plays chords and my right strums or fingerpicks. Piano seems like a very dynamic instrument. I’m enjoying it so far, though!