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Re: What made you decide to be a guitarist?
7/16/2001 12:58 AM
Sharon Bakula (953) wrote:
My first serious attempt at learning to play the guitar was back in the 70s, and it stemmed from a desire to emulate all those singer-songwriters that were out there performing with acoustic guitars at the time. Like Baez and Seeger and Judy Collins and John Denver and Joni Mitchell, plus a lot of other, less famous people I saw playing at local coffee houses. Singing is something that comes naturally to me, I guess you could say...at least it's something I've aways done...and I wanted to learn to play guitar so I could accompany myself and sing at coffee houses like all those other people. But I found the guitar playing part to be VERY difficult, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't stay with it. In fact, I basically gave up on the whole thing.
Fast forward about 27 years...and here I am trying again. Call it a midlife crisis or whatever you want, but the fact is, in the last few years I've been getting back in touch with a lot of things that I have always really wanted to do but had let myself forget how much they ment to me for a long time, and wanting to perform for audiences is one of them. And this time, I am finding that I have a lot more patience with the hard parts...more maturity, for one thing, I guess, plus more realistic expectations. (For one thing, I understand that it's okay to suck when you're just beginning to learn, and as dumb as it may sound, I'm not sure I really did understand that back in 1970whenever, lol.)
And while I will admit that my first love is still singing, I have to say that I've been developing a real affection for playing the guitar this time out, rather than just seeing it as means to an end. In fact, back then, it almost seemed like an obstacle of sorts *ducks flying tomatoes*, like something that was standing in between me and what I really wanted to do *ducks more flying tomatoes*, which was sing in front of an audience. I can see that had a lot to do with why I was not successful with the guitar then. If playing the guitar was something that came a little easier to me, I think things might have been different (and I think it DOES come easier to some people than others; I know that the willingness to put in a lot of hard work is what success hinges on, but I think it's easier to find that motivation for something that doesn't seem overwhelmingly hard), but it came VERY hard. And I didn't have anybody around telling me it was actually possible to succeed at something that was THAT hard. I knew lots of people who played the guitar, but I met them all AFTER they already knew how to play, so I never saw any of their early struggles. And I didn't get any help or encouragement from any of them, either. They all acted like there was nothing to it, and like they couldn't see why I couldn't just pick it up the way they had. What I mean is, their attitude was that it WASN'T hard. And since it WAS hard for me, I eventually decided I just wasn't cut out to play and gave up.
This time out, I knew it was going to be hard, I expected that...and I also realized that didn't mean I couldn't get there eventually if I kept at it. And I got really intrigued with things like theory, and thanks to the internet and places like WN, I had a way to find out things that were complete mysteries to me back in the 70s, such as how chords are constructed and why certain chords played in a certain order sound right as a background to certain melodies...and that has opened up a whole new world to me. I mean, I'm learning where all the notes are on the fretboard, and I'm learning to play some scales...and I had NO clue about things like that back in the 70s...back then I thought playing the guitar was just learning to form chords with my left hand and strum or pick with my right. So learning to play is turning out to be totally different experience, and a more enjoyable one, because I enjoy doing things more if I understand WHY I'm doing them. So the playing part means a lot more to me now, and like I said, I'm enjoying it more.
I don't know what it would really take for me to actually think of myself as a "guitarist", though. To me, that means someone who is really good at playing the instrument. My main goal is to get proficient enough to accompany my singing, whatever that may mean...and I'm not really sure what it does mean at this point in time (not to mention to be able to sing and play at the same time, because so far, the quality of my singing decreases about 2000% as soon as I try to play at the same time, lol...another factor that discouraged me way back when), as well as to write songs of my own. I hope nobody finds it offensive that I'm not in love with the instrument JUST for its own sake, but that's the honest truth. Besides, I just feel that singing is where my real strength lies...I don't think I'd ever be good enough that anyone would be INTERESTED in listening to me play the guitar...but I do have a decent voice and I know how to express myself with it...and I need instrumental backing to really do anything with it. I hope you all don't think that's a HORRIBLE reason for wanting to play the guitar...but that's just how it is for me. :o\ And along the way, I'm making all kinds of fascinating discoveries about the nature of music and about the guitar itself that wouldn't be happening if I was focusing only on singing...and that's all good, isn't it? :o)