Getting Schooled [Daily Prompt]

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

Currently I’m trying to teach myself to play guitar (as I chatted about in this post). My cousin was able to do it and she’s gotten pretty good, she’ll even play for her church sometimes. She, however, has musical ability. I’ve never had the focus and discipline required to learn and stick with an instrument. The only one I can consistently play is my voice…and it is usually only released during shower time.

(Or so I thought, I sometimes sing-along at work and not as quietly as I would have hoped. A few weekends back my coworker called me out on it and then that night asked me to come over to help with some background vocals on an album she and her husband are recording. Before that day I didn’t even know they were apart of a band. I asked one of the other girls if (right before recording) that would be a good time to mention I was a bit tone deaf. She said no and wasn’t amused in the slightest.)

This makes the whole ‘learn an instrument’ thing tricky. Especially since I’ve never had a sense of rhythm. In fifth grade when we were auditioning for instruments the only two that were taken off my list of possibilities were the flute since I couldn’t make my breath come out right ever and percussion. My beat was so off that I couldn’t even complete the clapping hands portion of the try-out.

As I am a week in learning the guitar I know I’m not brilliant, however a few things I have noticed:

  • I am constantly aware of my left fingertips. Typing, picking stuff up, whatever. Now that I’m using them in a knew way I can feel them always. Perhaps this will fade in time though, as I get more use to it and the muscle memory kicks in.
  • Everyday I practice I get slightly better/quicker at progression. Right now I’m working on three chords: E minor, A major & C major. C is a bit tricky since my fingers are spread out across three frets. Rather than starting a fourth (and fifth and sixth…) chord and doing a poor job at learning it, I decided to focus on these three and being able to switch from one to another while staying in the count. I can go from C to A or E and back and forth from A to E and stay in time. Going to C in the middle though? Forget about it. It takes an extra beat or two to get the finger located properly. But that’s why we practice right?
  • Practicing a little bit (even 10-15 minutes which is about all that my finger tips can handle right now) everyday is, slowly, building my skills. I didn’t really believe it in school when they said ‘just 10 minutes a day and you’ll be improved’. Instead I’d practice less frequently for longer amounts of time. I hate it when teachers are right in the end. Or more so I hate that I was so dumb and wouldn’t take the advice of a seasoned veteran of music.

Anyway, that’s roughly how it’s going with learning a new ‘skill’. The last time I did that (before this time) was in college. I was taking a color class and we had to paint a landscape. I decided to take the ‘easy’ way out (since the focus was more on colors and not the actual art) and simplify the landscape and surreal-ize it by shifting strips of it to the left or right. Drawing was difficult for me (hence I had to take so many classes of it), painting was even harder. Me and paint brushes are not one.

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