Learning the Guitar

I received a guitar in May 2017, from a kind-hearted neighbour who was also left-handed, and heard about my desire to pick up the instrument. Being left-handed presents interesting challenges when it comes to certain circumstances: hockey is learned a little differently, as are all stringed instruments – and I had never figured out how to get around the entire need to have a different kind of guitar if I ever wanted to learn. My neighbour sorted out the dilemma, which then meant I didn’t have too much of an excuse. There was nothing stopping me from actively learning the instrument as such. I had the internet, a lot of friends who played the guitar, and the instrument itself.

However, May 2017 was the last summer I properly spent in this city – in my house. Since then life has been a little bit of a whirlwind, and I never thought I’d have the time to sit and follow through on one of these whims and passions at University. Of course, my piano lessons since January have changed my perspective drastically, but at the time I didn’t feel that it was worthwhile transporting a guitar to Gujarat. Leaving it in Bangalore meant infrequent access, so most of my desire remained intact but unperturbed and not acted upon.

I’ve had a penchant for portable instruments for a very long time. This stems out of the fact that the piano isn’t portable and largely relies upon the existence of a piano in a particular place to be able to perform. I’m not much of a performer – I dislike performances because I feel like my relationship with the piano stems out of more struggle than anything else, and it’s difficult to showcase that struggle through a performance of any kind. However, I feel like I would perform more if I had a portable instrument with me. In a circuitous attempt to rewire my brain, I told myself I’d learn a portable instrument one day. The guitar, the violin, a flute, perhaps? Or even a trumpet, or a saxophone. My love of instruments means I’d like to be learning new ones constantly.

This quarantine period has really been a boon for me. University not figuring out online classes has given me the time to practice my piano for a few hours and spend time on all of these new drills that I’ve learned over the past few months. Aside from that, my friends are also free – and my childhood friends have really rallied around me to help me out with this guitar learning business. They’re taking it really seriously, which means I’m spending time actually practicing properly as well. It’s gotten to a point where we discuss things about the instrument: on design and theory, aside from figuring out more practical mechanics and exercises to help me along on the journey. I find this really fascinating because these folks are people who have obviously played the instrument for years, but neither of them are teachers or anything of the sort – but they’re putting in the effort to understand things I’m struggling with and tapping into their own memories to help me improve upon these basic chords. It’s been about 10 days now, and we’ve covered so much already, I’m super excited about it all.

The other really fun thing about this entire project and involving my friends in it is that there’s a shared joy in sharing that knowledge they possess. It’s also given us a fascinating, fascinating way to connect each day. We catch up at the end of my day, and at the beginning of theirs, talk about what the past 24 hours have brought us – and then move on with the lessons. It’s fabulous.

Turning now to the entire performance thing. I realized this evening that I won’t actually get to perform the guitar as much because even though it’s portable and there are more guitars lying around than any other instrument – my left-handedness means I’ll need to have my own instrument around at all points to play. The circuitous route hasn’t borne fruit for me after all.

All jokes aside though, hopefully I’ll be a little Paul McCartney soon. Or an Otis Rush.


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