Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.
When I was 13, I was a into video games and not going outside. This was evident in the middle of summer in Texas. I was also into music and enjoyed watching bands perform live on television. So every day after school, I would hang out with friends at my house and play games with the stereo cranked and listening to whatever CD that I could get my hands on.
We were limited at first. I was barely a teenager, so I couldn’t get CDs or tapes without asking. My favorite cd was Dishwalla’s “Pet Your Friends”. It is still one of my favorites. It had a song called “Counting Blue Cars” on it. The little guitar melody in that song was chock full of tension, emotion…whatever that caught me by surprise. I really enjoyed it. One channel used to have live performances on Friday nights. Dishwalla was on there, so I got excited and I decided to tape it using my TV/VCR combo. This was kinda like building a video mix tape, I guess. I did this stuff quite a bit. This particular evening, I fell asleep without stopping the tape. I guess the heads must have been worn, because when I tried to turn the tv on the next morning, it wouldn’t turn on. This meant…no watching the tape…and no video games. What’s a 13 year old to do without a tv and video games?
We were heading to Temple that day anway, so we took the tv to the repair shop. While out, I was talking to a family friend that was with us. I grew up around him, so he was one of a few “father” type figures I had. I didn’t know what I would spend the summer doing. I remembered that he had played guitar..or at least had one or two lying around his house, so I asked about them. We proceeded to wander to the music shop across from the mall and get new strings and a guitar magazine for me to look through. He brought the guitar over that evening and sat me down explaining to me that I need to take care of it. He brought a stack of books and magazines along with a 30 watt Gorilla amp (man I miss that little thing).
The first few months were rough, as I didn’t understand how to read anything. I played everything kind of upside down and backwards, because I didn’t really have a teacher. Sure, the friend would drop by sometimes, but if I asked him to show me something, he would just play a little then hand it back. No explanations or anything like that. He had a lot more faith in me at first than I did. So, I persevered…Read and reread transcription information and finally started reading the stuff semi-correctly. Within a little more time, I was able to play simple melodies and chords. A little later on, I had my fingers and ears trained and I would pick things up on the radio. It just built up from there.
A couple of years later, I joined my first band in high school. Played my first show on my 16th birthday. It was a hoot, sorta. I was nervous as all hell, and wouldn’t look at anyone. I kept doing that throughout high school, eventually singing for a band. After high school, I went straight to work and eventually joined other bands. Eventually, I got out of strictly playing in bands and started getting into instructing. Instructing is my main line of work now. I still play in a band or two and enjoy just playing for the enjoyment of it. It’s been 17 years since I started, and it’s pretty much been the only thing I actually stuck with….and the only thing that I really know how to do at any level. I may not be the best, but I can still do what needs to be done.
What are others saying?