- Read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s latest book, Things I Learned from Knitting, last night. One of the chapterettes talked about getting better if you just knit enough. That we all make crummy projects in the beginning, and if we just keep showing up to the needles and fiber, our output gets better.
Two weeks into the guitar, and I’m thinking the same thing, only the back of my mind is nagging. I don’t nag myself about the knitting. Wonder why? For today, this week, my guitar practice consists of playing and singing a small set of songs that use a small set of chords I know, and hoping I will get better (and I am).
The nagging part says I should be doing something that looks more like WORK. Scales, or transition practice, or something. And then another part of my mind says, “Lighten up, just play. When you’re ready to get more accurate, or more smooth, or more whatever, it will come.” Until then, you are learning. You’ve never held a guitar before. The idea that moving your left hand up and down the strings in a controlled manner will produce reliable sounds is a new concept. (I can’t hear chord changes in recorded music.) (Yet, at least.) You’re still learning how to send these particular signals to your fingers. It will come.
With a nod to my newly activated interest in music, I re-read Noah Adams’ Piano Lessons. It’s a small story about a man deciding to take up the piano again, buying an upright Steinway, and then struggling through a year of teaching himself with the aid of a computer program. He makes progress in spite of himself.What was the most amazing aspect of the story was the reviews it drew on Amazon! I’ll add reviews to books if the total count is < 12 and I have something worth saying; Piano Lessons’ review count was at 45 so I didn’t write one (which would have been a 4-star). But I did look at the 1- and 2-star reviews. Whew! Talk about resentment! A small portion of the reviewing community has trouble with the fact of a man able to afford an $11,000 piano who then does not play it much.
Back to George Jones and Amazing Grace and being out of time for today and trusting that it will come when it’s ready to.
There’s just no way for me to know at this point what data needs to get into the database of “guitar playing.” Building calluses (every chord in Amazing Grace uses the same finger, and the first time I tried it, my hand hurt almost too much to finish). Learning to hear the different sounds. Watching my wrist adjust.
Knitting’s not very different at all; just that today, I’m learning different things in the rugs, like borders and more sophisticated coloration, than basic stitch control.
Enough noticing. Time to notice that the kitchen needs cleaning before the weekend.
Originally written April 4, 2008