A Modest Reprise

I own a classical-style guitar. It is a guitar of no consequence, really. That is, the dollar value of the instrument was only $125 or so, with case, around 30 years ago. It is a Blue Ridge Classical Guitar, made by the Saga Musical Instrument company, with a solid (not laminated) top, or face, with nylon strings. I suppose the value may have increased somewhat, in time, but last I checked, this model is no longer manufactured.

Having learned to the play the piano mostly prior to my learning the guitar, I was able to pick up some initial chords and techniques from a brother, and my dad. Other techniques and notes I learned from playing along with and watching other musicians with whom I made acquaintance over the years. Never have I taken formal training in the guitar; at least, until now.

I’ve done well enough to play for church and youth gatherings where strumming and occasional picking was allowed and encouraged, but it was still mostly chord playing. I knew my strings, and I knew the frets and notes enough to enjoy a little bluegrass style when desired. Until now, I hadn’t seriously played in the classical style in the manner of Segovia or of Parkening.

Something arises out of the need and desire of one person to learn from what they observe in another person. Knowing how to perform a skill does not mean a person has learned how to teach a skill. Yet, that is what parenthood necessarily requires. This isn’t to say that a parent is the only teacher a child ever needs. Nor is to say, conversely, that a parent need always give up that privilege of teaching from the knowledge already acquired. What inspires a person to teach, however, is in many cases a love for the subject at hand, and a love, on some level, for the student at hand.

So it was, that when one of my sons, child #8 in order, expressed an interest in learning to play the guitar, we bought him an instrument that was sized for him, and the accompanying book, tuner, and such. We sat down together, and after a short time of meeting together for a once-a-week lesson, I realized he was a quick study in the subject. We quickly purchased some other instructional books, and that was when I began to learn some more myself.

The time was, when I took piano lessons in my youth, I usually practiced at least one hour each day of the week. Often, it was more like two hours a day at the keyboard, and then, I also had a unique opportunity to play the piano at my church as accompaniment to the congregational hymns in the worship service. It wasn’t until the year between the first two years of college, however, that I bought my own guitar and added that to the mix.

Over the years, as I mentioned before, I have played regularly, some more, some less. But recently, I realized, I need to ramp up my own practice because I need to be able to deftly play the teacher/student duets in my son’s books, and I need to be able to better demonstrate the right way to play the other  material.

It isn’t always easy making time for practice these days, because, you know, I’m also working full-time, plus overtime, and am trying to write more, garden more, be a better child of God, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, and friend. But, this is a way to connect and teach my son(s), and it makes for a nice balance to the technical and rational side of my head and responsibilities. I’m thankful for the repeat, for the opportunity to once again, learn.

Have a great week!