Teaching an old dog new tricks

“…played it til my fingers bled…”


My fingers hurt like hell.

I signed up for Beginning Guitar at Sac City College this semester. I’ve never played a guitar before…never really tried my hand at any musical instrument in a serious way. None, that is, unless you count the time I plunked around on an old accordion when I was 7.

“I’m not musically inclined.” I’m not sure where that notion came from. I’m guessing I got embarrassed when I was a little kid when I tried to sing and someone laughed. Maybe it was the cute girl in class, maybe be it was my fourth grade teacher, “Sister Mary Eff Withyourmind”, hammering home the point with the edge of a ruler. So I grew up without an interest in making music, often a little envious of my peers who could play, and some played quite well. Garage bands in the neighborhood. Jazz bands in college. Me? I am just a music fan.

No interest, until now. Part of my interest in learning to play a guitar comes from the portability of the instrument. A guitar needs no accompaniment, no electricity. Just whip it out and play with it. It is also fun to learn something completely new to me. It’s good for this brain to make it do something unfamiliar. I do not know how to read music, I barely have rhythm. So it’s a challenge on many fronts. The instructor is very good. He’s obviously talented and doesn’t mind working with the students who, like me, have no clue what they’ve gotten themselves into.

First, I’m just learning to place my fingers on the strings in the right places and hoping for a clean strum – that’s all I want. The metal strings don’t have any give to them, so my fingertips are taking all the heat. It is almost like a mini-torture, the pain pushes against the determination, usually ending in a deadlock.

And until the callouses form, my fingers will hurt like hell.

– + –

p.s. Today would have been my dad’s 87th birthday. If he were alive today, I wonder what new tricks he would be learning right now.

3 thoughts on “Teaching an old dog new tricks

  1. I tried it many years ago too. Next to being not musically gifted my fingers were the next weak point in the learning process. You listed Sister Mary Eff…lol. I think I had her for 1st thru 8th grade too!


  2. You are forgiven for your use of spot coloring on this image because… it kind of works. However, you’ve now used up your one chance at using it non-ironically.


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