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bear by san

March 2017



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phil ochs troubador

be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes--

So, not too long ago, I happened to mention to stwish that I was thinking of taking up a musical instrument again. In my chequered past, I've mostly not-learned saxophone, bass, and six-string, and then what with one thing and another, dropped each and every one without a backwards glance or so much as a memory of how to read sheet music.

Anyway, this is a source of deep familial shame, as my mom is musically inclined (she was first chair first horn in high school) and in addition to being a historian, my dad is a luthier and pretty damned fine blues banjo player. You can hear one of his songs here: it's the song of the month on Lightnin' Wells' home page currently. Also, it's a source of annoyance to me, as I dearly love music, and would like to know more about it on a practical level.

And I frankly need some sort of creative hobby that isn't narrative-related, because writing is my job now, and no longer induces an alpha state. *g*

Anyway, after spending two days trying to convince me to take up harp (I thought about it, but that's way too twee for a fantasy writer) with me going "I dunno, I was thinking of picking up a second-hand banjo or guitar or something I can noodle around with" (My supreme ambition right now is to be able to play "Eleanor Rigby," to give you an idea of just how much I suck), he threw up his metaphorical hands (the only thing as stubborn as a Ukrainian is a female Ukrainian) and said, "Well, don't buy a guitar, I've got an old one Bud made lying around I'll send you."

Bud is my "Uncle" Bud, Bud Russell (no relation, afaik), a gifted woodworker and artist who also made me a fantastic pair of bear bookends that hold up my brag shelf. And stwish, given what he does for a living, tends to accrue old musical instruments the way I accrue books. Which is to say, check before you sit down, or you might have an intimate encounter with a mandolin or something.

Brothers and sisters, my dad pulled a fast one on me.

This guitar is a thing of beauty. The body is canary wood, and the faceplate is salvaged chestnut, patterned with borer holes. And it sounds fantastic. And he sent along an electronic tuner, so I have no damned excuse. I just tuned it and spent a happy half an hour playing chromatic scales and trying to hold down a c major chord without screaming. And man, I have no finger strength at all.

On the other hand, my ear is better than I thought. Which is something.

Yell at me if I don't practice, okay?



That sounds beautiful. Post a picture at some point, yes? Would love to see it.
I will, when I have one. My only digital camera is in my phone, and kind of is pathetic. *g*
I hope your guitar gives you hours of pleasure. You just reminded me how much I miss playing and instrument. :)
an instrument (keyboard skills do leave me much hope on taking up the piano lessons again)
That would indeed be good. or have you considered something like dulcimer, that doesn't require too much hand strength?
Well, I have a piano, accordian, guitar and a saxophone (my husband's) at home, my main problem is that I live in an apartment with very strict noise rules and traditional instruments are...well, noisy.

I've lost a lot of strength in my hands since stopping with the instruments, though, now I sometimes need help opening jars. :)
Oh, booo apartment. THAT SUCKS.
did you know you can get programs to play music in a computer keyboard... I dont know what the name is, but it shouldn't be too hard to find..
That sounds like a good idea. I'll definitely check it out. :)
it is hell when your hobby becomes your job.. I was making instruments for fun, then that was a job, then i wrote, until i sold a book, and now i fool with old trucks.. If i sell a truck, i will have to take up robotics
"Forget all about that macho shit, and learn how to play guitar."
*stabinates you for planting Foreigner in my brain*
If I yell at you for not practicing, then I have to yell at myself as well, and that would be a lot of yelling.

Though my piano is now out of storage, after four years; I've also started learning harp, and have a six-string around (I've always been at 'folksongs around the campfire' level). I hate the tendonitis in both wrists (exacerbated by lateral motions and stretches); can't play for very long, or I'll be unable to do anything for at least a week. The harp seems to cause the least problems with it...

but yeah, I can't yell at anyone else for not practicing frequently if I don't do so myself *wry*

Re: (Maybe get a blister on yer little finger/maybe get a blister on yer thumb)

I juggle badly, too. I could have forearms of steeeeel.
Practice so you can build up those handy fingertip calluses that prevent the need for screaming as you play.
oi oi oi


Heh. I have (had) an uncle Bud, whose last name was Russell, and am a professional musician. But, from what I've heard (the last time I saw him was decades ago) creativity was nt his strong point.

But an hour of practice a day can make an enormous difference! Play on.
You'll get your finger strength (and callouses) in no time. Practice for me! I used to play a little but left my guitar in America when I moved. Several years ago when I needed to lose weight somebody advised me that if I was going to cut down on 'pleasure food' I needed to replace it with something equally pleasurable, so I bought a classical guitar. It only took about a month to get all the callouses and hand strength back. And you'll probably find that a lot comes back to you.

Have fun!!!
that's good advice. Thank you.