In the spirit of constantly learning/trying new things, I had my first guitar class yesterday.
I’ve been feeling anxious about this whole no-return to school or teaching thing for awhile now. And not being in band this year is making my little heart ache for music enrichment. So after reading and getting first hand rave reviews for the Old Town School of Folk Music’s guitar courses, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.
Frankly, purchasing my first guitar was a leap in itself. I’ve always wanted to learn but my brother and sister wouldn’t let me practice on theirs. When I got to college and started working with a teacher that exclusively used a guitar to teach her general music course, I thought that I should go the same way. One Spring Break, I sat at King Music searching for the perfect guitar for what could have been a good two hours when finally, my eyes became completely fixated on this twitter blue Fender. While not traditional in any sense and about two guitar sizes too big for me, it was exactly who I wanted to be when I played: cool, confident, unique.
I tried to learn how to play by myself. I spent many a vacation and break from school in front of a guitar tabs site struggling to understand how to strum. I consulted youtube videos and online tutorials to no avail. I even went commercial and bought books made for beginning adults and children. Nothing stuck.
It’s certainly frustrating to own a guitar that every one of your friends can play. I’d say the last three or four guys I dated were guitar friendly. And I was more than envious of their rock star like abilities. Oh, and singing in a band would have been infinitely easier if I could have played my own instrument.
So, after three years of sitting in my various rooms, only to be played by boyfriends and dates of past, I finally got my baby blue out of the corner and in to a classroom.
Old Town, first of all, is a hippy’s paradise. Music hits you as soon as you walk in the door and sweaty bohemian girls are dancing up in down the hallway, practicing their East Asian dance class routines. There are white haired men carrying around banjos and autoharps and a sweet, braided haired woman playing the dulcimer in the corner. Even the director told us that by the end of our courses, we’d be drinking the sweet kool-aid of Old Town.
My adult guitar I class is made up of around 12 people. There were 2 college girls, obviously best friends, who giggled as they messed up the chords. And then there were the really serious, mid 30s guys who owned guitars that sat in attics. One wanted to learn guitar for his new born son. The other was obviously there to hit on younger girls.
Another guy was about my age, a recent college graduate who inherited his guitar from a family member. We both cheered when we learned our first song would be “Oh-La-La” by The Faces. He wasn’t afraid to sing it out of tune with the teacher and neither was the oldest guy who later joined us in our discussion on Wes Anderson greatness. Sitting next to me was polar opposites- a girl in a business suit who took notes at every new lesson and a hipster banjo player who walked in 30 minutes late and with a broken guitar. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty cool mix.
Our teacher is basically me in 20 years- mellow and with awesome taste in music. She handed us out a huge packet of songs we were going to learn. It’s humor filled (“Achy Breaky Heart”) but contains songs that my music loving heart leaped at. The best was “California Stars,” which we learn in week 5, and “Sons and Daughters,” which is covered in week 6.
After the group lesson, every class (goes up to 4) communes in the auditorium for an all-sing. Basically, the instructors of all the courses and the students get together to pick out songs from the folk song book to sing and play. There was anti-war tunes from the 60s, a folk song from the Appalachians, a little modern country, and of course, some Dylan.