Guitar Strings

I’ve been carrying around my guitar since college. I was supposed to take a Guitar class the very first semester, but never did. It was cancelled.

I can remember walking into the Music building to the Band Room and seeing a note taped on the door, in scrawled print (a kind of cursive, all caps, print). It said “Guitar class cancelled.”

There was no explanation. No reasons given. It really wasn’t spoken about later.

I was a Music major so I spent an inordinate amount of time in the Music building. Even when I changed my major later on (a couple of times), I still hung out in the Music building.

I was never sure why they cancelled the guitar class. It would’ve been a small class, but I went to a tiny private college in the western part of North Carolina and all the classes were small. I think my Sociology and Economics classes were the largest. Maybe there were 20 people in them. Maybe not even that many.

I kept the guitar. It was actually my mother’s guitar and she gave it to me to take to College. She used to play it, but I don’t remember when or where or even what songs she played. Mostly she played the piano and she played it very well. I took many piano classes, but all I can do is sort of peck out a tune — on one hand.

I didn’t take the piano, but I spent (again an inordinate amount of time) all my free time as a pre-teen and teen listening to music: singing songs and/or pretending I was playing the guitar or the drums. I wanted to be a musician. While I did attend the college I chose, because of my scholarship in Music and I intended to become a Vocalist (my Scholarship was in Voice — Soprano, in case you’re wondering) I didn’t want to become a Music Teacher. I had trouble with Theory and the more intensive classes. I later switched majors to History and then to Business. Later on I got back into the Arts with my Master’s degree.

For days/months/years long after that Guitar class was cancelled and long after I graduated from College, I wondered if things would’ve turned out differently had I learned to play the guitar.

I had, of course, given up on ever learning it. But no matter where I’ve lived over the years, I’ve kept the guitar my Mom gave me. Until a few days ago, it had been leaning against the fireplace mantel. As I type this, I realize that was a terrible place to keep it!

I went to the a birthday party this past weekend (a kids party) and while us ladies/girls were talking, one of my friends talked about learning the guitar. I looked at her lessons, listened to what she told me and started picking stuff out on her guitar. A few days later, I dusted off my guitar (but not the case) and we practiced together. She told me I needed new strings.

Turns out my old guitar from College did need new strings and new keys (one broke while tuning the new strings). The new strings are strung. The new keys are on each side for tuning. The guitar is also turned up. I looked a purple picks (my favorite color is purple), but I haven’t bought those yet. I’m just taking one step at a time. Maybe they’ll be a reward for learning to play a little more.

I have practiced at home on my own a little. The dog hates it. Not the sounds. He’s afraid of the guitar. He doesn’t like the recorder either. How strange it is to be sitting in my living room all these years removed from college and to be teaching guitar to myself (with the sometimes help from my friend). She attends a guitar class and when my schedule frees up I’ll probably go to that, too.

I guess I hung onto that guitar for a reason.

I picked up my newly strung guitar late this afternoon and so I haven’t had a chance to practice. I did strum the strings once or twice to hear how they sound, to hear how my old guitar sounds after all these years.

It’s some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time. And even my dog agreed. This time he just listened — he didn’t bark at the guitar at all.

Originally published on the blog, “Artemis at Midnight”