Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Notes from the Guitar Class

In my old age, I suddenly decided to go and learn the guitar. Bucket list and all that.

So a few months ago, I toddled off to a class and registered myself. The spouse accompanied me and put on a long-suffering air stating that “Now you can’t say that marriage has stopped you from pursuing your dreams and hobbies”. Full melodrama this – I’m not really the martyr types who will sacrifice her life at the altar of matrimony.

So like I was saying I went and registered in this class in my neighbouring suburb and have been going there twice a week ever since.

This guitar class is a one man show run by an elderly-catholic-gentleman who from what I can gather has been playing the guitar professionally since 1950 or so. Being definitely old school in his approach to life in general and guitar in particular, he believes in all those old maxims of hard-work and practice makes perfect, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, and no progress without duress ( is that a maxim or did I just make that up?) – Anyways you get the gist.

As an aside and for the record, I would have much rather had a hot, stubbly young rocker-teacher types but I couldn’t because a) I didn’t find anyone of the sort and b) S claims ( quite unjustly) that I need someone who will figuratively cane me into practising – and this gentleman seems to fit the bill.

He, let’s call him Mr. M was quite fascinated by me when I first started attending his class. A female keen to learn the guitar was rare, a person on the wrong side of ..well never mind the numerical age, but the wrong side of the guitar-learning age was rarer (most of his students appear prepubescent to me - smaller than the guitars they play on.) and a person who is married is also quite unusual. So a person who combined all three was an oddity quite deserving of deep suspicion and an unshakable conviction that “She won’t last for more than a couple of weeks” and I think the fact that I do turn up quite regularly, never fails to surprise him.

As I mentioned earlier , he is quite the old style school teacher – balding, be-whiskered, beer-bellied ( ah for the young rocker, sigh) - he regularly scolds and clucks around all the unfortunate students for everything – whether it is not doing homework ( which is practising some 4 hours a day) to smoking ( “Next time you come I will SMELL your mouth and if I think you have smoked you better ‘WATCH IT”) and for not covering notebook ( this last particular one was directed exclusively at me – I kept on forgetting to cover the damn thing ( incidentally the first time he told me to cover my notebook I gaped at him like a half-wit – no one had told me to do that for close on 15 years. I also spent some pleasant time contemplating what stickers I should put on them – the Hello Kitty ones or Snoopy. Ok. I am being nasty).

He is also exceedingly meticulous (although I suspect terribly dated) in his music classes – one is expected to write down the theory (and seriously, all you typer-sharks out there are you able to write extended passages even now? I seem to struggle to write anything more than my signature these days), followed by a long diatribe on lack-of-practise ( he firmly believes that practise is more important than other minor things like earning-one’s livelihood or preparing food) and then some exceedingly excruciating exercises’ for one or the other hand – yes, I am still stuck at those (exclusively-arachnidan named) exercises’ - I have been doing these for months now, and I suspect I will be doing them till the end of time.

Also Mr. M and I seem to have quite differing definitions of what constitutes a relaxed hand. He will contort his hand in a quite impossible angle and make me do that with mine and insist that the hand is not relaxed enough. Well, I agree with that – my claw looks like it’s in the throes of rigor mortis. But I defy anyone to hold the hand in those particular positions and be yogic-ly relaxed at the same time.

And I suspect my fairly flippant attitude to learning is something which he views with deep disapproval. He wants to make a professional guitarist out of me - despite all the odds and despite the unpromising musical raw material. He periodically drops broad hints about how a so-and-so- restaurant is in need of someone who can play and sing and how in a few months I might consider it (It might be worthwhile to broach this proposal in front of my Ma– I am sure her reaction to the news that I am considering singing and playing a guitar professionally ought to be quite interesting. I'm sure band bajega. Quite literally)

So anyways I plug (pluck?) on with the guitar. In a few decades if you see a white haired old lady standing and crooning on some stage with a guitar, stop by to say hallo, it just might be me.


Parul said...

Heh heh....its been one of my dreams too. Add mother of one to the three items on your list and your teacher might just succumb to a cardiac.

narendra shenoy said...

Nice post! Me, I was never really keen on learning the guitar, but I strung along. Plucked up courage. Fretted while I tried.

shub said...

Pliss to invite for first professional performance. I won't snitch to your Mom, God promiss.

Vijay said...

So where are you at now???

I had a cousin whose parents sent her to Veena classes only to discover all she was interested in playing was "Kasme Vaade"

Iya said...

so which stickers did u finally put??
i want to learn how to play the piano...but putting it to some other day when i'll go on a sabatical...

Rada said...

I'm sure you are being your usual, self-effacing self ! :-)

Take your Laptop along to take down all those pearls of wisdom!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Parul - take adi along to the classes for good measure. That should be fun.

Naren - did you get a HEAD ache and a Neck pain and while you were fretting up and down and stringing along? ( you are contagious)

shub - you, you, you! I have heard you are one of those pro type players who give everyone a complex. call for a perfomance it seems. bah.

Vijay - where am i? hmm. grade 2 he tells me. but been doing that for an awfully long time.

iya - i wanted to learn the piano too. but figured couldnt afford/fit a baby grand piano in the house. Piano is fun. Had friends who used to study it.

Rada - have seriously contemplated taking the laptop. im much faster at typing than writing. and besides i probabaly could read the typed word ( which i cant with the written word)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Ooooooooh, we can have an audio clip soon?

lifeizlikethat said...

Covering the notebook :O :O :O Initially I didnt even understand what you were talking about!! :P

zypsy said...

interesting!!! so what does ur hubby say or do, when u practise at home:-))

Meira said...

*writing in my diary:
watch out for white haired old lady standing and crooning on some stage with a guitar* :P
but then...I might be one too...playing next to you! :D
Keep at it :)

Pinku said...

first of all u got the perfect teacher stick with him....

secondly am sure u are good at it otherwise the teacher would never mention that restaurant opening....

thirdly lovely post as usual!!

Soulmate said...

Go girl.. learn guitar.. and dont mind about covering the notebooks and using those "hello kitty" or "snoopy" or "walt disney" stickers. They still look good and will give you the feeling to write ane learn with more enthusiasm... Still waiting to see a lady who plays good guitar...

Kraz Arkin said...

Can you play Jingle Bells yet? Or ek do teen? Ha! I can. And I only went for one class. I rock!

Also - A.


AmitL said...

Hi,Cyn-that's nice-a guitar player.I had a big smile on my face while reading the quotes in the post,right from 'martyr types who will sacrifice her life at the alter of matrimony' to 'no progress without duress','claw in the throes of rigor mortis'..to name a few.:)
U didn't mention which guitar u're playing/have? A Yamaha F310(No,don't open eyes in wonder,that's the only model I know for beginners,and,I don't play the guitar..LOL)
Mebbe someday when we meet at a blogger meet,we can begin with u strumming the guitar before proceeding to the tete-a-tetes.

Mumbai Diva said...

hmmm. have been to your blog before. absolutely love the humor.....now am a follower

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Nandini - you want an audio? why would you want to do that to yourself aiyo! very bad i am.

lifeislikethat - yes, i didnt understand it when he first told me either.

zypsy - what does he do? dont practise in front of him wonly. He wont say anything. He will just LOOK.

Meira - are you learning too? Cool so we can be the swinging septugenerians? ( I reckon it will take me that long to figure out how to strum the damn thing)

Pinku - no, i am pretty lousy at it. Seriously. No false modesty and all that.

Soulmate - if you find her, show me too yus? Right now i am envious of anyone who can play even bad guitar.

Kraz - bah. show off. and no i cant. bah.

amit - the term is not guitar player, but guitar slayer. mine is a givson. beyond that i have no clue.

thangu mumbai diva and yus, yus come more often.

AmitL said...

Woh bhi chalega-it'll be a change from talking only blog-talks,na..haha!:)

Ram said...

Very nicely written. Can I place put you in the age bracket
[0.75 Naren, 1 Naren]?

Epiphany said...

Hey! Plz to put a video of ur performance on youtube :)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

amitl- never been to ablog meet so its all new.

ram - er? i think ).75 naren would be closer ( if i figured your question out that is)

epiphany - big fat NO!

Thanatos said...

Just 15 years since you were asked to cover notebooks? You can't be on the wrong side of any age yet ;)

What kind of music were you looking to play?

Maddy said...

for many years after college i lugged around a 'Spanish' guitar not knowing how to play it. then i purchased a book and an audio tutor. the guitar is gone, the book is still somewhere, and the yearning is still there.. at least you went with the desire..

great - some day you would be seen jamming with Clapton..