You may be familiar with the concept of the Bucket List, or some similar “Things to do before I die” list. Well, I don’t have one of those, not exactly, but there are a few things I know I want to do some day, not necessarily big fancy things like skydiving from a Concord or riding a blue whale, but things that I could do but have just never gotten around to yet, because they are the ones I find far more frustrating. I mean, no-one can really blame me for never having bungy-jumped from the bridge between the Petronas towers, that would be quite tricky to organise, whereas learning to play the guitar, to pick a completely random example, is a lot easier to access, and I therefore have less of an excuse.
So when my Sports and Social club at work offered a 4-week guitar course for beginners, I jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, I even bought a guitar. A cheap one from Argos (I hate Argos. It is on a par with RyanAir for making me loathe myself every time I’m forced to use them…) but still, not a bad one, good enough to learn on.
The class began, and my teacher turned out to be a suitably scruffy and laid-back Jesus lookalike. That’s the way all guitar players look, right? I mean, if some guy turned up in a pin-striped suit and claimed to be teaching you to play what is probably the coolest instrument on earth, it would just be wrong.
So Niall starts by tuning all our guitars, and then in that incredibly annoying way that Those Who Know have of making everything seem effortless, he starts strumming and chatting about frets and fingers and chord charts, and within 10 minutes I’m feeling ridiculously lost and incompetent. He hands out some song sheets, and we try our first 3 chords. D. Ok, that’s do-able. Right, now E. Hmm, ok got it. But… How do you do D again? No, seriously, I’ve forgotten! In the 2 minutes it’s taken to figure out the fingering for E, I’ve forgotten D! This is ridiculous! And I can’t even hit the right strings without looking at them! And the strings are really digging into my fingers!
Yes, I know, I am pathetically impatient. I am, I already know that. If I start something, I need to see results pretty fast or I will just get annoyed and drop it… Well this is the perfect example. Over the next 3 weeks, I haven’t really seen any progress, except for the pain in my fingers and the confusion in my poor goldfish brain both getting worse. I know that’s not a long time, and that I probably could has practiced more (or at all) between lessons. But then I already know deep down that I’m never going to practice properly, and my brain is probably never going to get the hang of the handling of those strings, it just doesn’t seem to want to do that.
It just seems like the guitar is the wrong sort of instrument for me, it requires a concentration and a hand-hand-eye coordination that I don’t have. I’m quite good at the recorder, for example, where both hands are doing the same kind of thing and I can see them. But strumming with one hand and holding the strings with the other is a bit like the old pat-your-tummy-rub-your-head trick. Also, I’m beginning to suspect that, like the Asgaard gene in StarGate Atlantis, the Cool gene is required to play the guitar, and I think we all know I don’t have that one. If we didn’t, quoting StarGate Atlantis pretty much proved it.
So this evening is my last lesson, it has been kind of fun, and at least I feel I’ve given it a shot, I’ve tried it out enough to know it’s not going to happen. I’m ticking it off my list. Anyone want to buy a guitar?