When I lived in my birthplace, Lagos, Nigeria, I remember appreciating Guitarists in lively Pentecostal churches and lavish birthday parties. However, the 2008 Disney movie Camp Rock was what made me want to play the instrument.
Yes, a cheesy movie about American campers, musical talents and teenage drama stimulated my once dormant interest in learning how to play an instrument. I was 10 years old, don’t judge me.
The fierce strumming of guitar strings by the Jonas Brothers, and Margaret “Peggy” Dupree at the end of the movie, made me realize that the Guitar was a cool instrument.
I begged my parents to buy me one and after months of nonstop pleading they finally gave in. My mother took me to a music store close to their workplace and at 11 years old I got my first guitar. It was a Denver ¾ size Acoustic Guitar (Sunburst), small, cheap, but good enough for a beginner guitar player.
Sadly, like every other thing I had tried to learn on my own, after two weeks of absolute devotion my interest in playing the guitar had decreased significantly.
Then ‘playing the guitar occasionally’ became ‘not at all’ when my little sister, Marvellous, cut my guitar strings with a pair of scissors. She was young then, around 4 years old. She said she wanted to know if guitar strings could get cut (um…yes, they can!)
I got angry because she had damaged my first guitar, and yet I didn’t fix it. Why? I didn’t want to play anymore. Learning how to play an instrument was difficult and I wasn’t ready for the responsibility.
The reality of learning how to play a guitar:
- You need to take you care of your guitar as you would any other precious thing. A guitar should stay in a dry, lukewarm, atmosphere (not too hot or cold) to avoid surface swelling and buzzing sounds. Also, many Guitar players like to change their strings as often as possible so that their guitar not only looks good, but sounds good also.
- A beginner’s guitar journey is painful slow. You need lots of patience. I pictured myself jamming out to songs on the radio with my guitar, imitating song notes and belching lyrics, but that wasn’t how my first month went. I spent my first month learning the guitar notes (E, A, D, G, B, E) and basic chords like the E minor and C major.
- You need to practice, practice, and practice some more. You know that you’ve worked hard when your guitar strings imprints lines into your fingers. If you wish to one day be a guitar master you’re not only practicing playing the right notes but also extensive things like hand placement (making sure you’re not mistakenly muting notes that are supposed to be played), movement (trying to acquire a smoother transition between chords), and impulsive playing (trying to visualize where your hand needs to go without looking at the guitar).
11-year-old me had given up, too easily and too fast.
But many years has passed since then. I immigrated to Canada, faced many trials, and I still wished to one day learn how to play the guitar effortlessly. I waited for 7 years before I bought another guitar. I told myself that I need time to learn how to play and decided I was too busy in high school.
Well, guess what old-me? I’m in post-secondary and I’m still busy! When I graduate and get a stable job, I’ll still be busy!
Eventually, I had developed enough sense to realize that my theory was bogus. If I truly wanted to learn how to play the guitar I needed to make time for it.
And I did, 7 years later (two months ago).
My new guitar is an Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar (Wine Red with Gold Hardware). I bought it in a store called Long & McQuade. I’m currently getting used to playing the guitar again. In the months that I’ve had this guitar, I’ve practiced more than I did in a year with my old guitar.
How to get yourself to practice:
- Buy an instrument with features you love. I love the red and gold on my guitar. Every time I look at it I just want to pick it up and strum. That is the kind of reaction you should have to your instrument.
- Put your instrument on display, don’t tuck it behind piles of junk. I bought a stand from Amazon for my new guitar. I placed this stand right next to my study desk because I sit there all the time. My guitar is now easily accessible during study breaks.
- If you can’t afford getting guitar lessons try detailed self-help tools (e.g. videos, apps, books). Guitarist on YouTube like ‘for3v3rfaithful’, apps like Yousician, and books like Guitars for Dummies by Jon Chappell and Mark Phillips would inspire you to pick up a guitar. The tools I’ve mentioned above are ones I’ve used and would recommend.
Wish me luck on my guitar journey!
Here’s a song I made recently with my limited knowledge of strumming:
Lyrics: Tasted raindrops, in my head. Tasted raindrops, in my soul. Lately I'll give, exactly the cost. I don't know about begging but I've lost. What you want? Everything that I needed. Give me love, I'm a necessity. Tasted raindrops, in my head x4 ...in my head.
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