I have never… played the guitar


My parents are in town for a visit and we’re on our way to the city center to do some shopping.
“You have to turn right here”, I tell my Dad from the back seat, but he doesn’t react fast enough.
My Mom sighs loudly which has become quite a habit for her. At least when it comes to things my Dad does.
“No problem, we can take the next one then”, I say calmly, trying to keep down the tension I can feel slowly building up.
My Dad turns right.
“This is a dead end”, my Mum exclaims. “And I don’t see a parking garage anywhere around here.”
“I guess we have to go all the way around then”, I say, anxiously  trying to keep a pleasant tone in my voice.
“You’ve been living here for almost 2 years now. How do you not know where to go?”, my Mum asks enervated.
“I always take the bus. That’s why!” That came out a little too harsh, but I’m already too annoyed by all this.
“Where should I go then?”, my Dad asks. His voice is starting to reach a higher pitch than usual which is an alarming thing.
“We have to go all the way around. Up to the river”, I tell him.
Noone talks until we finally reach the parking garage. I get out of the car and – stop.
“Wait! Where is my guitar?”, I shout. Where is it? It’s supposed to be in the car, so I can take it to a music shop to get it restringed.
“Did you forget to take it?”, my sister who’s been quiet all the time asks.
No! This can’t be true! I search the car for it everywhere, but it’s just not there. I lean against the car and suddenly feel like crying.
“Let’s just go shopping then. You can go to the music shop some other time”, my Mum says in her commanding voice and is about to walk away.
“No, I can’t!”, I protest. “The shop closes at 6 on weekdays. I can’t make it. And I really have to practice.”
“What is so important about that stupid guitar that it can’t wait for a couple of days?”, my Mum asks, not getting it at all. Suddenly I feel like a kid that’s begging his Mum to buy him sweets at the supermarket. My Mum shoots me a look that tells me to finally give it up and go shopping with her.
But then my Dad steps in and says something that right in that moment sounds like magic to me:
“You guys go ahead. I’ll drive her back home to get the guitar.”
I jump in the car overflowing with joy and off we go.

I have alawys been an enthusiastic person. I can get very excited about a lot of things. They can be little and somewhat insignificant to others like a leaf that’s dancing in the wind, involve physical exercise like climbing Mt. Fuji (which is by the way more than 3.700 m high!) or requiring a longer-term commitment – like playing the guitar. Once I have found something I feel passionate about, I can be very obsessive about it. And playing the guitar might just be one of those things for me right now. The funny thing is that a couple of weeks ago I had no idea that I would even think about taking guitar lessons. I hadn’t thought about it in years (well, rather decades). When I was 12 I wanted to learn how to play the electric guitar. At that time I was playing the keyboard, but always felt it was only a cheap version of a piano and thus, plain boring. But guitars were cool. Guitars were the companions of rock stars. It could be the chance to end my invisible existence and actually turn me into a cool kid. Who knows, maybe I would be a famous musician today, touring the world, bringing the joy of music to all different kinds of people – if it wasn’t for my Mum. She was kind enough to take me and my sister to a trial lesson, but when she realized how noisy an electric guitar actually is, she refused to let us take any more lessons. It’s a pity that noone told her that it’s possible to use headphones, so noone gets tortured by squeaking noises. Or that she also refused to let me play drums instead.
So, over the years I had forgotten about that dream – until I saw a music video in which a girl was playing the electric guitar with so much joy and passion. Suddenly it all came back to me and I thought: Why not give it a try now? I’m living on my own. I can do whatever I want to. There are only old people living in my house and they’re probably almost deaf anyway. So I searched for a guitar teacher on the internet and a couple of days later I was off to my first real guitar lesson. The moment when I first held that guitar in my hands and played the first chord – it was pure magic! Of course, it felt kind of weird at first to put my fingers into somewhat unnatural positions and the sounds that came out didn’t quite sound like music. But I guess it’s just a matter of practice. After I had my Dad’s old guitar (which is about 35 years old!) restringed, I played every night after work and it is just so much fun. I’m so happy about every progress I’m making, no matter how little it is. In my last lesson, my teacher Adam showed me how to play “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. I watched closely and then practiced the song a couple of times by myself. Then he told me he thought I was ready to play along to the song now. I was like: What!? I had just learned how to pluck and I was still pretty slow at changing between chords. How was I supposed to play along? But he told me just to do it. Not to think, just do. So I did. I was sitting there with this guy who has been playing the guitar for 9 years and I played along to Snow Patrol. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. I messed up the chords and lost the beat a couple of times. But it didn’t matter at all. I was just enjoying the joy of making music. And I hope I will do so a billion more times. When we were finished, Adam said: “Cool!” I couldn’t agree more.

I could go on about this for hours, but I’ve got to go. My next lesson is starting soon 😀


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