Guitars & Kids

One thing I’ve tried to do for my kids is get them instruments and lessons if they ask for them. So far, the girls both play the piano and guitar and sing, and Daughter #1 plays a little violin; Oldest son, may he rest in peace, learned to play a little Bach on the piano before deciding he wasn’t interested. Youngest son plays fiddle quite well, sings a little and has expressed interest in learning piano and other instruments as well. (I tell him: show me you’ll practice on your own for a year or two, then we’ll see. So far, we’re sticking to violin, as I do need to get after him a bit – hey, he’s 12.)

But middle son, age 20,  has never played anything, and, when his voice changed (it’s way deeper than mine, which is a little disconcerting) something happened that seems to have made him unwilling or unable to sing. BUT – he started in a couple months ago saying he wanted to learn to play guitar.

So off we went to Guitar Center, and shopped. Found him a cheap-ish flamenco style nylon string (1). Why that kind of guitar? Because he wants to learn this song:

What? I mean, slow enough and a month of practice, I can sort of play maybe 75% of Rodrigo’s part, but hardly know where to start with Gabriela’s insane strumming percussion. This is pretty damn advanced guitar. Yet, never having tried guitar, this is what our Thomas wants to do.

Aaand – he’s doing it. After 1 freakin’ week, he can play that slower main melody section from the middle. Not to speed, not clean – but he can play it. I figure it out a bit at a time (Rodrigo y Gabriela have very helpfully posted a ‘tips’ video for this very song – phew!) show it to him, and he’s spent several hours a day working on it.

Here I am worried he’s going to get so frustrated that he’ll never pick up the guitar again, and he’s smiling ear to ear every time I see him, running through those 16 measures or so of the song. I can even, in a very un-Gabriela-like way, strum the chords behind him. I can probably show him that intro section next, at about 25% speed. Then he’ll be in for it, because the solo is insane, and the little strumming fills Rodrigo plays are Not Easy.

We’ll see what happens then. I do know an outstanding guitar teacher, and asked Thomas if he’d want to take a few lessons over the summer, and he’s interested – good thing, too, because I’m going to be in over my head in a few weeks at this rate.

Thomas makes the off-hand comment that, when he started in fencing 6 years ago, he had no idea what it meant to practice. But since he’s not a natural athlete and since he had a very good instructor, he learned how – to practice. Now, he’s applying that skill set to the guitar.

Kids never cease to amaze me. Mine do most of the amazing for the simple reason they’re the ones I see all the time. I do have high expectations for my kids, but all around how they behave, not around trying to make them great musicians or scholars. They have wildly exceeded all  expectations on both fronts. I am truly blessed.

(By freakish coincidence, Rodrigo y Gabriela just happen to be playing in Napa next weekend – a 45 minute drive. Yep, the whole clan is going – woohoo!)

  1. The quality of cheap guitars keeps rising while their cost, adjusted for inflation, keeps falling. I love the free market!

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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