Published January 17, 2018
By Rhonda Beckman
This might come as a surprise to you, but I am a very stubborn woman. Just kidding. Everyone that knows me is not surprised by that statement at all. Some may call it determined, some may call it bull headed. I just call it plain old stubborn. You see, when I get an idea in my head, sometimes I just can’t shake it. I simply can’t. It sits there in the back of my mind saying, “YOO-HOO! IT’S ME! THAT IDEA YOU KEEP THINKING ABOUT? I AM STILL HERE!” Sometimes it is a visual idea for a new art piece and sometimes it isn’t. Most of the time I have some form of device around me that I can quickly jot this idea down into. I have a list in my notes on my iPhone and sometimes I don’t know what those ideas meant when I go back to them, but most of the time it’s still a legit idea worth pursuing.
One of those sticky ideas was to learn how to play the guitar. My sister and I have always noodled around with different instruments growing up but besides the short stint with piano lessons that Teresa got, we didn’t do any formal lessons. But we taught ourselves how to play the recorder and the organ with the cool chord buttons on the side, and as I may have mentioned before, I’m a persistent steering wheel drummer. I taught myself how to fart around with a harmonica a little bit when I was in university; enough to impress the kids and play “Home on the Range” at a coffee house that got everyone singing along. But I’ve always wanted to play the guitar. If you’ve seen my hands, they are as ugly as a ballerina dancers feet are. I’m an artist, not a hand model. My stubby sausage fingers aren’t exactly made for picking strings, but Brad bought me a guitar anyway. This in itself was not exactly easy to do in North West Ontario since I am left-handed. Alas, it sat in my closet for a long time. Then I bought myself an electric guitar. It too, collected dust.
Last year as I was doing my regular shopping at the reclaim station, a beam of light shone down on a book and I swear, it actually elevated off the table ever so slightly. It was “Alfred’s Basic Guitar Lessons Book 1”. This was it. This was my sign. It’s now or never. That was last spring. It is a 47 page book and I am on page 25. I started with the first string: E E E E F F F F G G G G then on to the second and so forth. I have learned to play songs like The Blue Bird Waltz, East Side West Side, The Bohemian Folk Song, Daisy Bell and the Laughing Polka as I muddle my way through the pages. This isn’t exactly the kind of music I was thinking I was going to be playing. Afterall, I grew up listening to cool chicks like Joan Jett. After months and months, I’m on the sixth string and I still feel like I’m just starting to get a feel of things, but the progress is there.
Quite a while back I had the nerve to post a video of my son and I playing a song together. This is truly one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to learn how to play and the first time we did, I bawled like a baby. One of my friends watched the video and commented on how I was doing the finger picking style. I said to Brad, “Am I?” and he said, “Well, you kind of are. The finger picking style is when each finger is dedicated to a certain string.” So since I am a lefty, my pinky is supposed to goes on the bottom E string, and so forth, all the way up to the sixth string which I am supposed to strum with my thumb…my toe thumb. Well, I wasn’t doing that. I was pretty well plunking each string with the same finger. Well, that wasn’t going to work now, was it? So I started all over again. I went back to page 1 and re-taught myself how to strum the strings properly. So even though I am only 25 pages in, I have learned many of the pages twice.
At the end of Book 1 is a certificate of promotion, where I can write my name. It certifies that I have “mastered and perfected book 1 of Alfred’s Basic Guitar Course and am hereby promoted into Book 2 of Alfred’s Basic Guitar Course.” I don’t have book two, but I have bought some other music books, now that I kind of know how to read music, and I fully intend on eventually pulling out that sweet, left handed red electric guitar and rocking out Joan Jett style one of these days, maybe about two years from now after I reach page 47.