Friday, March 4, 2016

Randy's Guitar Lessons

When I turned 9 a new family moved in acrossed the street. The father opened a music store in the center of town, and he was well-known for having charted a hit in the '50s called Candy Striper. On the side, he taught guitar lessons.

I'd always been resistant to piano, so Mom thought it would be a great chance for me to learn a little music. Though it sounds quaint enough to be the 1920s, it was the '80s, and we actually traded a dozen fresh eggs from our chickens for each lesson. So every Wednesday I'd walk across the street with my brother's old, beat up guitar under one arm and a carton of eggs under the other.

The problem was, I didn't really understand music, and I was too young to be a very good student. I practiced hard, and learned chords with my left hand, but I was too small to form the chords well or even hold the guitar correctly. Worst of all, I didn't understand time signatures at all, so my right hand just sort of flailed at the strings randomly, and it was impossible to recognize the tune I was playing, even for me.

Over time I gave it up, though I always loved guitars and old rock-n-roll music (in my fantasies I'm a rock-n-roll historian). I learned to pick out the first 5 bars for Stairway to Heaven and about the same of another song called Under the Bridge. Many years later, after my mission, I was at the same house, with the same family, though the father, my guitar instructor had long since moved away. I showed his son the two songs I could "play," and he fell in love with the guitar. He was still in touch with his dad and learned to play very well. He even started a band, which he let me name (Samurai Seven), sing for, and write lyrics for, and we made a few cds which he self-produced. I still have a couple of band t-shirts leftover from those days. It was a lot of fun, though our talents were limited, but he never let me near the guitar when the record button was pushed.

Fast-forward 15 years to our Christmas Sing-Along in December. We had a few friends over, and one of them brought his guitar along. It turns out that he is a guitar teacher. As we talked, I realized that I still wanted to play. So last month, I started guitar lessons for the first time in over 30 years. I still remember a lot of the chords, but I am pretty rusty! The lessons are fun, though, and I've been practicing a lot-- usually around 45 minutes per day, which drives my roommates crazy. But between the guitar teacher and Natalie graciously counting out beats and helping me with time signatures, I can actually play a tune or two you might recognize. One day Natalie even came in and said, "The Eagles have landed," as I was fighting my way through Hotel California, which sent me over the moon! She could actually tell what I was playing! (Usually when I asked if she can tell what I'm playing she says, "Ummm... the guitar?")

Anyway, I'm not going to play the guitar for you, but if you happen by our house and it sounds like someone is strangling a harp inside, you'll know not to disturb my practice....
Mark loves singing songs with Randy. Every night they rock out together!


  1. That's awesome! Teach the boys at the same time. Then they won't have to take lessons when they are ancient. ;) Love you!

  2. You will have to play for me. I wont let you out of it.

  3. Good job!!! I think it's so admirable to pick up a new skill as an adult.


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