16 September 2011

Music Time--Guitar

Welcome back. In my blog post on reading, I confessed that, during my stay in the Philippines, I did more schmoozing and playing guitar than reading. Schmoozing you know, but I should elaborate on guitar. I won’t begin with guitar, of course; that would be too straightforward.
 
Piano
 
My brother and I started taking piano lessons when we were in grade school. He improved steadily; I didn’t. Our mother finally let me use freshman basketball or switching to trumpet as an excuse to stop. I can’t remember which.

What brought it to a head for me was when a friend’s mother, who had begun taking piano lessons one month earlier, sat down and, with simple chords, played songs anyone could recognize.

I’d been playing for three years; couldn’t play diddly (i.e., anything) without the music in front of me; and since everything I played verged on classical, none of my friends would recognize it anyway--at least not the cooler friends.

Approaching Guitar

 As for trumpet, we dated for about a year, normally chaperoned by a mute. I also tried ukulele, which evolved into a baritone ukulele when I learned the baritone’s four strings are tuned the same as four of the six guitar strings. Clearly, I was prepping for guitar.  

Why guitar? I couldn’t drag a piano to a party to be popular and, if you were at the party, would you stay if I walked in with a trumpet? Plus, I liked folk music, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and anything in between. 

Arriving at Guitar

In my first year of college,a student on my dorm floor convinced me to tag along to a folk music club meeting. I found myself surrounded by guitars, everyone singing. I could do this; I could be popular. It was time. 
Warren’s grandfather, early 1900s.

At home on a college break, I went with my grandfather to a pawn shop in Albany, N.Y. He knew nothing about guitars but everything about selling. After arriving in the U.S. in the early 1900s, he sold umbrellas in New York City.

I’m not sure if my grandfather got the price of the only guitar they had down to $11 or if the salesman got the price up to $11, but I’m sure the guitar wasn’t worth more than $11. 
 
Warren’s grandparents, 50th anniversary!



Playing Guitar  

 Assorted learn-to-play-guitar books showed me how to finger basic chords. Like my old friend’s mother, I needed only chords for most of what I wanted to play.

Although my $11 guitar had character, I was now ready to move up. When my brother, who was driving to New York City for some reason, offered to help, I told him precisely what to buy and probably where to buy it. He returned with a much nicer guitar, the one I lugged everywhere for the next 45 years. 

Those 45 years were almost cut to about 2 years. During my first summer at the Arecibo Observatory, guards would occasionally have evening jam sessions with guitar and guiro. I thought my guitar was a goner when its face started separating from its side. Never fear. A guard took it home and expertly glued it back together.
 
I wish that guard had been around 2 or 3 years ago when the bridge that holds the strings broke. I contemplated paying more than the guitar was worth to repair it, but the only time I’d really played over the past ten years was when I was getting my son interested in guitar.
Noah’s first day at college.
Noah liked the instrument, built on the few chords I taught him, took guitar in high school and still plays well, though probably not often.

Wrap Up

I enjoyed guitar and should play again. Whoa! I’ve an idea.
Warren’s new guitar!

Noah left his electric guitar and amp, or whatever it is, here. I’ll figure out how to plug in everything and...oh, it’ll be great! My wife and the cats will love it!

I could even form a band--The Retirees or The Retired Ones or TRO.  I wonder if the band could use a trumpet player. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week. I’ve got an unusual photo addendum that I'll post earlier.

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