Sunday, April 4, 2010

but if you D sometimes ...

When it comes to music lessons, I’ve been known to be an impatient brat when not instantly Monk or Stevie Ray Vaughn. At the risk of sounding a bit arrogant, I have a life history of being a natural - dancing, singing, writing ... all skills I proved to possess innately at a young age - skipping the beginner phase before I’d even begun. I’ve still done the work and continue to educate myself - but it’s long been from a more advanced place I’ve sought progression.

To put it more simply … when I suck at something, I don’t like to do it. I own this flaw entirely. But in recent months, I decided enough was e-f’ing-nough.

So I’ve begun guitar lessons. Recruitment began a few weeks ago for a brave soul to tackle the monster alongside me. The search ended at the doorstep of my very good friend, Ben “Cartel” Rosenthal (of The Benjamin Cartel and indy duo KaiserCartel) With great enthusiasm, he took me under his (talented, funny, positive) wing.

And, well … I suck. The “songs” I play are virtually unrecognizable. My fingers hurt. There are so many dissonant vibrations, it sounds like I’ve taken up the Sitar. I have to climb itsy-bitsy-spider style to each chord. I have almost zero natural talent for this fickle beast of an instrument. But I’ve managed to unearth a surge of motivation to get better and remain disciplined - and it’s really exciting. I’m (finally) very much okay with having to really work and be patient with the journey being a slow one.

Ben is an excellent teacher. I should plug him here, in case any of my 5 readers are considering private lessons. He has the patience of a saint, he’s your biggest fan, and the “pick an easy song and we’ll learn it” approach works much better for me than getting bombarded with scale after chord after scale. It’s important to have context you can connect to. The repertoire will come over time, there’s no plan to become a master of music theory inside of a month or two.

Our song of choice to kick things off was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” a.k.a. C--F--C--F--D--F--C! My favorite is D, in case you were wondering. (I haven’t exactly put Mr. Richards to shame, but we’re gettin' there …)

The next step was to get my clunky, long unloved Cort guitar in more playable condition. I was a little apprehensive of getting up-sold with repairs I didn’t really need, but an additional plug goes out to the fellas at Street Sounds in Bay Ridge for only doing what was necessary for my level of playing.
They did a beautiful job adjusting the action, re-stringing with lighter, more finger-friendly strings and making it all shiny and pretty. Thanks Rocky!

My goals here are to a) become a better student ;) and b) build a stronger foundation for my relatively new place in music; this goes for writing and especially for singing. It feels increasingly ridiculous not to know what notes are coming out of my mouth, or how to find harmonies other than by ear-guessing.

So there’s no plan to take over for Frank on lead … but I can’t say it’s not a fun rock n’ roll fantasy. :)


Adam said...

Have you learned "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" yet? How about "Little Brown Jug"?

tracy said...

not yet - but good suggestions!

Adam Shenk said...

I can totally relate! I tried to pick up the guitar in high school, and I was like, let me stick with the piano! I was unmotivated to learn at the time, and sometimes I wish I did. I could so easily play on any street corner, go to any open mic or gig, etc....Piano's not as convenient, but boy do I love it!

Adam Shenk said...
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