15 June 2016

Reconnection

In a corner of our dining room, two old friends have been waiting for me. I have neglected them for far too long. They are classical acoustic guitars.

I bought the oldest one was I when fifteen years old - using wages I had earned on a local turkey farm. I must have bought the second one around 1990 - from a guitar specialist who had an Aladdin's cave of lovely instruments just outside Leeds.

How many hours have I spent plucking and strumming these guitars? Thousands. But since I retired from teaching, I have hardly touched them. All this extra downtime - you might have thought I would have been consolidating my musical talents, practising most days - but no, the guitars had become ornamental. It's a psychological thing. You have to be ready.

A few months ago, one of the strings on the newer guitar broke of its own accord but it was only yesterday that I got round to restringing it. I tuned it, played it and retuned it. It takes a while for new strings to settle down.

Please don't imagine that I was ever a great guitarist. For me, the guitar was always something I used to accompany songs - or better still to create songs. This was something I was pretty good at and the feeling you get when playing a guitar and singing a song that you have penned yourself is very special. You feel lifted somehow - as if the song has come to you mystically, magically, as if it is bigger than you. You can easily get lost in it.

Anyway, in my current frame of mind I am now determined to embrace my old friends again. I plan to play the newer instrument regularly - make my fingertips hard again, make my fingers re-learn old chords. And I want to make some new songs.

If it is okay with you, At the risk of making a rod for my own back, I would like to share a couple of these unborn songs with you before this year is out. That target will increase my motivation because when all is said and done what is a song without an audience? It's like a play or a painting - without witnesses it might as well not exist.

Now I am going upstairs for a shower and before walking down for my weekly shift at the Oxfam shop I shall play the guitar for half an hour. It will be a long road back to proficiency but it is a road I am ready to travel.

22 comments:

  1. At oxfam look out for an xl walking dead t shirt for me

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    1. I looked but I could only find you a Peppa Pig XL T-shirt in pink.

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  2. I have an acoustic guitar that has suffered the same fate and despite having been retired ten years now I have barely touched it. The main problem for me is the fact that my finger tips long ago lost those hard corns that you get from playing metal strings on a regular basis and so just a few minutes playing is very painful and I lose interest.

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    1. Classical guitars do not hurt your fingertips so much Derek and if I build up slowly it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Why don't you do it too?

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  3. I look forward very much to you sharing your songs with us, Yorkie. And I'm sure I won't be the only to remind you of your intention!

    Randall,my ex, was always going to buy me a guitar as a gift...it never eventuated and I never bought one for myself, but in some ways I wish either had turned out.

    I'm sure you will find yourself motivated to play again...regularly...and I hope that you do.

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    1. Thank you for your support Lee.

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  4. You've set yourself a challenge so I look forward to listening to your music. I envy your talent to play an instrument, I never got beyond the triangle at school.

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    1. "I never got beyond the triangle at school" could be a line from one of my songs Sue.

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  5. Good for you YP. I gave my piano to my son (who teaches music) - it was a much better piano than his and I suddenly felt I didn[t wish to play it any more.)

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    1. That was a fine gift to pass on to your son... but do you remember in the sixties when there was a fashion for smashing up old pianos at village fetes? It seems utterly crimninal with hindsight.

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  6. Way to go YP !
    Can't wait to hear what you have to offer us (musically, that is !):

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    1. Right down in my blue suede shoes
      Oh baby got them ol' Coppa's Girl blues..

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  7. I'm surprised you neglected the guitar in your retirement. I guess you had too many other interesting things to do.

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    1. There was plenty of spare time Red but the mood just wasn't there.

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  8. YP, another undisclosed talent. Acoustic guitar player.
    I'm sure you won't regret the decision to return to playing the guitar - although it might be hard work for a while!!

    Alphie

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    1. Thank you for your tentaive support Alphie.

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  9. Just before you wrote that you want to share your songs with us I was thinking of writing in my comment "I hope you will share your songs with us!".
    From when I was 12 until I was about 15, I had classical acoustic guitar lessons and was - according to my teacher - pretty good. He wanted me to perform solo at the music school's annual concert, but I hated the idea of playing solo in front of hundreds of people (it was a big school and their annual concert was open to the public) and never even told my parents I had been asked.
    From 15 to 18, I had piano lessons.
    These days, I own neither guitar nor piano, and sometimes I think it is sad I have let slip everything I ever learned in that respect.

    One of my cousins who lives in the Provence (at the foot of Mont Ventoux, known to all Tour de France followers as one of the toughest parts of it) is a guitar maker by trade. He and his son build custom guitars. Most of their customers are gypsies travelling the South of France and Spain. They have their guitars made to measure, to exactly fit the length of their fingers, size of their hands and so on. They willingly spend thousands of euros on one guitar, a true work of art.

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    1. To have a guitar made to fit one's hands and fingers must be a very special thing.
      With your background I am glad I made the point that I was never a brilliant guitarist - more of a singer and songsmith.
      Do you think you will ever buy another guitar and rediscover your musical talent?

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    2. Unlikely, but "never say never"...

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  10. In answer to your sponsorship suggestion re Devil's Bridge - over my dead body (literally probably). As to my cossie on Skeggie beach - it was green with embroidered flowers across the front (my sister knitted it for me) and when it got wet it stretched and no longer covered the parts it was intended to cover.

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    1. That image will stay with me the rest of the day Mrs Weaver!

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  11. Whenever I see a guitar I remember my birthday night ! My boyfriend , now my husband gift me a guitar exactly at 12 ! He came in his bike and stood down to my hostel . That was the best day ever in my life !

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