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Guitar Picks – Quirky T Learning to Play Guitar

Guitar, tuner, and picks

To start this month’s Guitar Month, Quirky T will tell you how and why she began to play guitar. Three years ago, I wanted to play an instrument to improve my songwriting. I have written song lyrics for years but I needed music to make them songs and not just poetry. I was interested in learning either the piano or the guitar. A guitarist I spoke to told me that if I took piano lessons, I would be forced to learn classical music which did not interest me at all. I only wanted to play Beatles songs and eventually my own songs. Other disadvantages of the piano are that it’s expense and its lack of portability.

Regal guitar
So I decided to learn guitar. I had a 1930’s Regal guitar from my grandpa. He never played it and it is a mystery to my family as to how and why he acquired it. I put an ad in the local community newsletter looking for a guitar teacher. I was lucky enough to find a retired school teacher who had also taught guitar to disadvantaged high school students. Even more lucky for me is that he offered to give me weekly lessons for free.

Hagstrom guitar
At our first lesson, he realized that my old guitar wouldn’t be good enough to play. So we went to the Guitar Center where I bought a Hagstrom acoustic guitar with steel strings. I also bought all the necessary accessories – medium and thin picks, (I prefer thin.) a tuner, carrying case, and Beatles buttons to adorn the case. (The Guitar Center is such an amazing store; it’s hard not to buy every Beatles item I see in the store. I really have to restrain myself.)

tuner and picks
The first few weeks of playing the guitar were PAINFUL. Now I know why so many people I talked to quit playing. It really hurts your fingers to play. I felt solidarity with all guitarists. I wanted to check out the fingertips of all professional guitarists to see if they were hardened.

The Early Beatles
Once I got past the pain, the fun began. It was so cool to actually play Beatles songs on a guitar. Since I only learned a few chords, I had to concentrate on learning earlier, simpler Beatles songs such as “Love Me Do”.

Beatles buttons
One lesson was especially memorable as Alan, my guitar instructor, brought in his electric 1962 Chet Atkins “Country Gentleman” Gretsch guitar which was the same one George Harrison used to play. I had fun playing Beatles songs on it.

The Beatles 1
After a year of lessons, I learned seven Beatles songs (which I will list in next week’s station stop) and the intro riff for “Day Tripper.”  I also learned one non-Beatles song – “Amazing Grace”. It was actually the first song I learned to play and Alan taught me to play it slowly – as if I was at a funeral.
A big triumphant for me was the first original song I recorded with music. I wrote the lyrics and Alan did the music for the song called “Check It Out.” I also played guitar on the recording. It is the theme song for the local library TV show I produced.

The Beatles chord book
Unfortunately, the lessons came to an end after a year because I didn’t have enough time to practice. Even more unfortunately in the year and a half since the lessons ended I have barely picked up my guitar.  I do want to learn more and become a better player. I want to learn more Beatles songs. (Check out next week’s Guitar Train stop to see which songs I want to learn). I have many of my own lyrics that I want to add music to. I just have to set aside the time to practice.

guitar strings package
I also have to get over my fear of a guitar string breaking while I am tuning. This happened to me once and traumatized me to the point that I hate tuning my guitar. When the B string broke, it struck me in the face and cut my hand. Maybe I should wear safety goggles so I won’t be poked in the eye and gloves to protect my hands when I tune.
Guitar Train passengers, Quirky T really wants to hear from guitarists. How did you get on the guitar playing track and what keeps you on that track? What’s the best thing about playing the guitar? What’s the worst thing?
All Guitar Train passengers should keep in mind that anything posted on the Guitar Train blog must NOT contain profanity or ethnic, racial, gender, or physical insensitivity. Anyone who violates this will have to disembark at the next stop on the Guitar Train and will not be allowed back on the train.


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