It’s been about a month since my guitar came to me. I am playing it more than my son is playing his trumpet. Not surprised. He is 9, I am 43, and have slightly more discipline. So I am not bragging, it’s just something to reflect myself against. He sounds better every time he plays. I do too.
My friend, Bill, drew some chords for me and showed me some plucking to play with and how play to the pentatonic blues scale. I am learning to hear the sounds and hear the good notes and the bad notes. I am learning to move my fingers and hold the strings down, to move from one chord to another. It is a dance on the strings. I love it.
Playing with Bill is confusing and exciting. He is so far ahead of me when he talks about music. He shows me things and I feel just like when I was learning French. Hearing words separately, not as a sentences and yet being able to get the gist of what was being said by the intonations. There are the words that have meaning to the logical mind and there are the sounds that have meaning to the dreamy mind. So a part of me knows what I am hearing, but I have no idea how to repeat it with my own fingers, my own hands.
Playing by myself is sometimes mesmerizing. I lose track of time. The only things that stops me is the pain I feel on the tips of my fingers on my left hand from holding down the strings. When I was down in Florida last week visiting my sister, Sylvia, I got to play her Uruguayan guitar. I spoke told Bill right before I left that I was thinking of taking my guitar to Florida but changed my mind when I found out I could play Sylvia’s. He said, “That’s the way it goes, now whenever you go away, you’ll be wondering if you’ll find a guitar there. I bought so many guitars that I gave away when I got somewhere without one.” I can understand that. I can see doing that myself. I am already wondering what I will do when I go to Houston in July and Portland in October.
Sylvia bought her guitar in Piriapolis when she was in Uruguay about 10 years ago. It feels and sounds so right. My first love affair with guitars was with Los Olimarenos, a Uruguayan duo playing acoustic guitar and singing of love, revolution and justice. They were the music of the Frente Amplio, the music of my parents and the visionaries they hung out with. Sylvia’s guitar makes sounds like theirs did.
My other sister, Gabriela, had that guitar for a while. Her energy is also on it and I felt it as I played. Our blood blending through the memory on the strings. When Elijah Nisenboim was visiting (see him at http://www.karmadoctor.com), he was playing my guitar too. And wow, he can make some nice sounds on it. He was playing some songs from his recent compilation, MADE FOR ME. When I picked up the guitar, my playing sounded better too. Elijah tell me that happens, the energy of all those who play the guitar stays with it.
My first offical lesson is next Tuesday, Dec 15th. Chris McDermott, a local celebrity, teaches half hour sessions. He tells me that if we decide to work together I can bring a CD of the kids of songs I’d like to learn how to play. Can I put them on all on one CD, I wonder. There will be Everything But the Girl and Roddy Frame. Jorge Dexler and Led Zeppelin. Elvis Costello and Ganga Girl. But I think ultimately, I do not want to learn just to play their songs, though I am happy and honored to learn through them. I want to make my own music too. And share it with others. And be what I have always thought I could only find outside of me.