40 years ago, I started to learn to play a guitar. I was 9 years old – I didn’t know what I wanted to learn! After 4 years, 3 grades of classical guitar, and not enough practice, I gave up. My Mother was not impressed after all that money spent on lessons. We just hadn’t found the right teacher, or style.
Then, in my 20s, I was travelling in South Africa with some friends. Two of the guys on the trip had guitars with them and would play on the bus/around the campfire. I loved it… a bit of ‘Stones… some other classic pop/rock. This was what I wanted! I bought a copy of Guitar for Dummies and tried to teach myself. It didn’t work. The book sat on the shelf for years and my guitar gathered dust in the loft.
In my mid 40s, I saw a local group of musicians advertising a guitar workshop in the town where I live. Come along and join in, learn to play, no experience needed – all ages welcome. So I went down with my elderly classical guitar, met Ian (Roberts) and Trevor (Aldred), learned a few chords (A, D and E) and was soon playing old Elvis Presley songs. A few months later, I’d learned a few more chords and I bought myself a new guitar (a Faith Blood Moon Neptune cutaway electro-acoustic). Not long after that I played my first gig. OK, “gig” is a bit strong but it was me and some of the other students, in a pub, playing a few pop/rock songs like American Pie and Chasing Cars.
I still don’t practice enough, but my family complain when I sing (which directly impacts my practice). I’m working on Heroes and Times Like These right now. And I’m trying to perfect my strumming. Recently, I realised just what a difference changing my strings makes to the sound of the guitar – it’s like new again (thanks to Newport Music).
So, before anyone tells me what a hash I made of changing the strings on my guitar, Newport Music (https://t.co/m5leLwJEMn) were great and showed me how to do it properly… and the guitar sounds so much better now! pic.twitter.com/i3l4OzqixG— Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) August 28, 2021
Whilst I still play with my local group on a Saturday morning (although we didn’t meet for a year because of the pandemic), I have the basics and can learn a bit more on my own. I still find books unhelpful (mostly) but there are some fantastic resources on the ‘net, and I really rate Justin Sandicoe (JustinGuitar)’s and Andy Crowley (AndyGuitar)’s websites and YouTube channels.
So, if you fancy learning to play the guitar, my advice after 40 years would be:
- Work out what you want to play – electric or acoustic; pop/rock, folk or classical.
- Don’t give up.
- Practice more.
- Find some others to jam with (it really builds confidence and hides your mistakes).
- Have fun!
(Maybe one day I’ll build the confidence to play solo at an open mic night…)
Featured image: author’s own.