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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kerr

Old Dog Learns New Trick

When I was eight years old, I told my mother I wanted a guitar. At the time, nobody was cooler than the Beatles. Maybe if I had a guitar, I’d be cool too (Sorry, Ringo, I guess I couldn’t see you behind John, Paul, and George). I recall wandering a music store gaping at those magical instruments. I ended up behind the counter admiring the ones hanging on the wall. A store clerk shooed me away before I could do any damage.

Unfortunately for me, my parents had just purchased a piano so that my sister could take lessons. Boom—I found myself taking piano lessons too. The explanation Mom gave was that if I learned piano, I’d find it easier to learn other instruments later. I smell the influence of the piano teacher.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if Mom had given in and bought me a guitar. Would I have learned to play it? Debatable. As much as I wanted to be cool like the Beatles, I had a greater desire to play center field for the Houston Astros. Alas, the Astros never called.

I quit piano lessons at age 14. My dad told me I’d regret it. I sort of do. How much fun would it be to play piano? But I don’t regret it that much. What I regret is that, as a kid, I never had the chance to learn guitar.

A few years ago, I attended a Grand Ole Opry show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. One of the performers was an 11-year-old boy who had been playing and singing for a couple of years. Watching him took me back to that music store and wondering what it would be like to play guitar.

Someone had given my son a cheap guitar. Already proficient in piano and trumpet, he had no interest in playing it. He gave it to me. I found an online course and began learning the basics. I already knew some music fundamentals from piano lessons.

After a few months, I realized that online courses weren’t enough. I needed a teacher. I found one, a very patient guy about half my age named Chris, who agreed to take me on. When he asked me what type of music I wanted to learn I said, “I don’t know. I just want to learn to play.”

That was three years ago. I’m still not to the point that I tell people I can play guitar. I do tell them I am learning and getting better. Chris has taken me through a variety of playing styles, including chord strumming, Travis picking, claw hammer picking, and Carter scratch. I can’t claim to have mastered any of them, but each lesson gets me a little closer. Will I ever be a good guitar player? Maybe, maybe not. Am I enjoying myself? You bet. In the meantime, Paul McCartney’s job is safe.

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Nov 03, 2022

There’s always air guitar.


Christina Trama
Christina Trama
Oct 19, 2022

That is great! My husband has been self teaching over the past few years. Keep working at it and have fun!

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