Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Guitar Hero

I’ve always enjoyed a finely played instrument, and my favorites have been any sort of style that evokes talent, someone who can really jam our a tune on a banjo or a harp player, for instance. Any jackal can plunk out the first twenty notes to chopsticks on the piano, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to strum a couple of random chords on a guitar. But it takes great skill to display talent, which sounds redundant until you take into consideration that the great majority of songs these days (at least the “these days” I’m referring to are the days when I actively listened to modern music, whose years past are entering the double digits)…anyway, the great majority of songs can be completely played with just a few chords. That’s it, and it reflects poorly on the people who play them and think they have talent.

Of course, who am I to pass judgment, as I only know a couple of chords on the guitar and I can’t, for the life of me, put them to any melodic use except to make the dog’s head turn sideways. But, I just picked it up a month or so ago, and I only seem to have time to plunk out a few notes and some fake solo riffs for about 10 minutes every other night or so… at least until my soft sissy fingers start to hurt.

My brother Jason has been playing various guitars since he was probably 10 or so, whenever he got his first one for Christmas, and it has always been something I’ve envied as he’s really good. Thanks to genetics, I didn’t get the musical talent traits he picked up, but I figured that, though some people are born with talent, anyone can learn.

So, always one to support his little brother’s interests, at least when it comes to music, he gave me one of his guitars and a book for Christmas on how to play. I’m not very good. Frankly, I stink. The kid next door has a trombone that he got for Christmas, and he’s like Glenn Miller with the thing… here I am hardly able to master simple chord progressions. But then again, I’m teaching myself, which is a mistake, but what’s worse is that I’m teaching Natalie and Matthew too.

For his birthday, Matthew too got a guitar, and though he finds more enjoyment in harshly plucking the strings which sounds more like he’s pulling the feathers off of a bird, at least he is taking an interest. Natalie, on the other hand, is very happy with it on her knee, and every couple of days or so she comes into the office—like she did just a few minutes ago—and says, “Daddy, can you give me a guitar lesson?”

And so we do. I tell her how to hold the guitar, and she prefers other methods, like laying it flat or holding it towards her so she can better see the strings and hear the music. Tonight we learned how to change the sound of the strings by pressing down on them at the different frets. She was delighted to learn a new word.

Then she made up a song. She strummed on the strings, covering a few from time to time to make different sounds, and sang about the colors of the rainbow. The lyrics were Natalie pointing out different things in the room that were different colors, and sometimes they rhymed too. It was cute.

Of course, then I took her picture (the one at the top)…and she got mad and left.

Perhaps she is practicing for the paparazzi.

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