The Quest for a Guitar

I just found out that Garage Band has free guitar lessons!

It’s always been a dream of mine to learn to play acoustic guitar, and play it well. Well enough so that I could jump in and play in the praise band at my church. Well enough so that I’d be able to play Brooke Fraser and sing at the same time. Well enough so that I wouldn’t look foolish hesitating while switching chords.

Like this song, which would sound so good on guitar.

You can just hear the strumming of the guitar along with the synthesizer. *swoons* But anyway.

I took an introduction to guitar workshop four (or was it five? It was so long ago.) years ago at camp. The teacher was good. I don’t remember her name. She brought several extra guitars for the people who didn’t bring their own. At that time, I didn’t have my own, so I took advantage of the provided guitar. Besides, free stuff is always good.


This is the D chord I've learned how to play. I know there are some variations out there, but I like this one.

She taught us a few basic chords, like G, C, D, and A. She taught us fingering. (WHOA! It’s so different from piano! I made confused faces all the time.) She taught us how to strum correctly, and how to hold a guitar pick. Key: don’t clench it like it’s a rope and you’re about to fall into a bottomless ravine. What’s even better: she gave us the guitar picks to keep. I think I still have mine somewhere. It was black and looked as if it was made of shell.

When all that was learned to some level of ability, she played a few worship songs along with us.

I had a lot of trouble keeping up. I knew the chords, but changing them displayed some difficulty. Actually, no. I stopped for five minutes to change chords. Plus I made loud twangy muted sounds because my fingers kept on pressing all the other strings.

Besides the fact that my hands were small. I could barely reach the chords. Owie.

Since I didn’t have a guitar, I ended up not practicing when I got home. Guitars are expensive pieces of wood and metal (that do sound mighty fine), and it would have been too much for my parents to afford. I sort of forgot about my interest. (I think I’ve wanted to play every single instrument at every point in my life. My parents are used to it.) I remember being enthusiastic about it for a week after I got home, and then letting it drift away.

Besides, I told myself that my hands were rather small. It wasn’t that much fun making loud twangy while muted sounds from pressing all the strings at once.

522509224_762fcde05dBut still, guitars lingered in the back of my mind. One of my parents’ friends from church was an amateur songwriter. She didn’t have a lot of money, so her husband told her she’d have to buy a tiny guitar. She bought one that was like a toy. It didn’t even tune well. After a while, she bought a slightly better model that was also slightly bigger. For my parents’ fellowship picnics, she’d bring her guitar and play a song she had composed.

The problem? Her guitar was never tuned. Never. I don’t know if she knew that guitars had to be tuned (she had learned her chords all by herself. Everything by herself). Or if she just didn’t know how to tune it with one of those tuners. Whatever the reason, the guitar was always out of tune. Hard to play chords on an out of tune guitar. So I just satisfied myself with random strumming.

I didn’t think that I’d be able to reach the chords on a normal sized guitar, though it was no problem on her tiny guitar.

Then I learned this song, in the process realizing that it would be so much easier to play on a guitar than a piano.

Then one Sunday not too long ago, I found out that my fingers had grown. They’d become more flexible as a result of five more years of piano playing, and my more recent scale training. If any of you know about playing piano, you’ll know that it requires flexibility to reach notes. (Playing arpeggios and chords help a lot with finger flexibility, in case you didn’t know.) It took five years after the intro to guitar workshop, but my fingers grew enough to be able to reach the chords on a guitar.

Add to that the discovery that Garage Band, which comes installed with all Macs, comes with free downloadable guitar lessons. I watched the first couple just for the heck of it and to remind me how to hold a pick, and the lessons are clear and very well explained. Oh, did I mention that it was free? Free stuff is cool.

2777552407_404cd5b83bHappiness ensued. I envisioned myself playing Brooke Fraser and playing guitar along with it! Maybe I could even do Switchfoot! And Hannah Montana! (Just kidding about Hannah Montana, by the way.)

In all seriousness, as a music major who likes to sing, guitar is a perfect choice to learn. It’s not too hard to learn. My hero Brooke Fraser knows acoustic guitar and piano. And plays both extremely well.

Now to get a guitar. How? I searched on Amazon. Everything was extremely expensive. Even the cheapest beat up 80 dollar guitar in “poor condition” was far beyond my means. Besides, I wanted to get something good. That brought me to the next option. No, not steal. Borrow.

Fortunately a nice guy in my church offered to let me borrow his guitar for the rest of the summer. So for a brief time, I will at least be able to practice. When I go to college in the fall, maybe I can find a job or something so I can save up for a guitar.

I told my dad I was going to borrow a friend’s guitar.

What are you going to do with it??

I don’t know, use it as a clubbing bat. Or to plant flowers. Whichever.

By the way, I want a black guitar.



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