What I learned from my guitar

I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone from when I made that promise to practice 3 times a week starting in January.  It flew by!

I have had a cheap guitar for a few years.  I would get so I would pick at it (no pun intended) for a couple times, then put it away again.  Part of the problem was that I was a music major for undergraduate and graduate degrees and to know what I wanted to sound like in my head versus what was coming out – or not coming out – of my fingers was really frustrating.

So, the first thing I learned was to relax on my expectations.

Quote from one of my lesson books:

Have faith that the full extent of your aspirations can be realized with time and patient effort.

How true this is!  The first 2 or 3 months my fingers hurt.  I could only play for 15 minutes at a time.  I did, however, start to practice 5 or 6 days a week instead of 3.  Because I was only playing for 15 minutes, I figured I could do more days.  I just set the timer and worked through my books.  I sounded really amateur and not very good, and I kept saying to myself  “It’s okay.  You aren’t a professional any more.  Nothing wrong with being back at the beginning.”  I needed to keep saying that to myself.  My musician’s ego really took a hit at first.

About mid summer or so, I began to notice that I was sounding a lot better.  Things were easier. I had built up calluses in my fingers so I could play longer and began to shoot for 30 minutes most days of the week.  I rarely missed a day because I was beginning to enjoy the practice immensely.  I was learning to love the music for music’s sake again!  (I will tell you that college politics took so much of the enjoyment of music from me, but that is another long story to tell.)  I was relaxed and okay with things not sounding perfect, which is a big deal for me.

I also learned that just because I didn’t like a piece at first, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t like it later.

Case in point of the above piece.  It sounded terrible when I first tried it and felt awkward, so I didn’t work on it.  Then I decided to pick at it again later – and I listened to someone play it on YouTube and decided I liked how it sounded.  YouTube has been a great source to listen to some of the pieces I have been working on, plus some good advice.  Who knew?  It’s not all funny cat videos and Chocolate Rain.

The last couple of months I have noticed even more improvement to the point where I am much more musical with the playing, which is what I was really missing in the beginning.  Not to mention that I love my new guitar!!  I even love how they knotted the strings:

I won’t show a picture of how I knotted the strings on my old guitar, but it sure didn’t look like that  :mrgreen:

Since I dedicated myself to playing and have improved so much, I decided I deserved a good instrument. Having the right equipment makes all the difference in the world.

Funny how a lot the things I learned from my guitar apply to much of the rest of my life as well.

I am looking forward to doing the videos in the next couple weeks and hope you enjoy them!

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18 thoughts on “What I learned from my guitar

  1. Lisa

    That is so cool that you learned how to do that. When I was a kid my mom made me do piano lessons (because we had a piano, even though I wanted to learn the violin :P). I hated it. Now? I kinda wish I’d kept at it. I’ve forgotten everything.

  2. Andra

    Beautifully written post. I can’t wait to hear your debut video. Speaking of guitar music, I’m a big fan of Esteban, I have tons of his music on my iPod, even saw him in concert a few times. Do you like him?
    Andra´s last blog post ..Creamy Broccoli Soup

  3. Jill

    As I was reading this post I was thinking how a lot of it did apply to life. What a great post! I am really looking forward to hearing you play. Congrats on your patience and perseverance!!!
    Jill´s last blog post ..Late Stubborn 10 Update

  4. Satu

    Great post, Lori. I have the same problem re training for the military push ups: I’m feeling impatent and can’t understand how I’m ever going to get there when I’m so hopelessly weak at the moment.

    But that is not the attitude that helps me progress.. Thanks for reminding me!

    I’m convinced you can learn anything from Youtube! 🙂
    Satu´s last blog post ..Migraine-My New Stress-O-Meter?

  5. Joanne

    What you said about the guitar playing being different in your head than what comes out of your fingers when strummin’ strings, is EXACTLY what happens to me: 1. When I decorate a cake. and 2. When I want to vocalize an important point.
    Everything is just perfect in our head but then something gets lost in the expression. I guess practice is the key.
    Looking forward to hearing the tunes. 🙂
    Joanne´s last blog post ..You Make Me Smile

  6. Jody - Fit at 53

    Lori, you really do amaze me with your goals & how much you have accomplished in so many areas of your life. You should write a book!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to hear you play & I am sure we all will say :we sure wish we could play like Lori”.! 🙂 You are an inspiration!

    PS: Does Pixie like it when you play – does she try to sit with you or play with you?
    Jody – Fit at 53´s last blog post ..Beauty, 10 Minute Peanut Bars, Gifts

    1. Lori Post author

      Thanks Jody!
      Pixie does not like the guitar at all. She doesn’t like the piano either, but at least she doesn’t hide anymore when John plays like she used to!

  7. Marion

    I took classical guitar during college, in which I had to apply music theory and take exams on how to potentially make any musical chord on the guitar. Whoa, what a migraine. I no longer remember how to do this for the strange chords–these lessons were back in ’88.

    In 2007, I bought a smaller Ovation that had a much slimmer neck than my much larger Yamaha guitar. It was stunning at how *very much* easier it was to play all bar chords. In earlier years, I knew how to play bar chords, I just couldn’t hold them down. Now I can hold them down easily. My guitar playing quality went immediately up due to a much smaller guitar.

    🙂 Marion
    Marion´s last blog post ..Being Totally Awesome About Fitness

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