From Guitar Hero to Guitar Zero
I can’t recall a time when I didn’t want to learn how to play the guitar. I’ve always wanted to be that girl at a party (other than the whole social anxiety with parties deal) that would whip out the guitar and get everyone chilled out while singing James Taylor or Sheryl Crow. Lately I’ve been on this kick where I feel like I MUST do everything I’ve always wanted to do (which explains the Big Foot Expedition I’ll be joining in November), including learning to play the guitar. I don’t think it’s a foreshadowing of my untimely death as much as it is that I’ve finally decided to take advantage of all of the cool things this brain and life in general has to offer. To make a short story even shorter, I signed up for lessons. Thanks to my equally-ADHD brother, I already had the guitar and just needed the guidance to turn me into that girl I was imagining.
I showed up at the first lesson, and was met by my teacher, “Heavy Metal Todd”. That’s not his real name of course, but he had a pony tail down to his ass and was the bass player in two heavy metal bands. I’m going to imagine that the long nail on his pointer finger was so he didn’t have to carry his picks around. Needless to say, he ended up being a nice guy but with the patience of a shoe. Actually…a shoe seems to have LOADS of patience. Let’s say the patience opposite of a shoe.
The first class went so-so, as we spent most of the time getting all of the students’ guitars tuned. For some unexplainable reason, I was the only one that had been proactive and tuned it BEFORE class, so it took everything I had not to ask everyone (WITH “NORMAL” BRAINS) why they didn’t think of the same. I was getting antsy and finally sat on my hands to keep from plucking on the strings out of sheer boredom and orneriness. After everyone was finely and finally tuned, we went over guitar basics and reading music before he sent us on our way with homework for the next class. Guitar basics was fine, but that whole reading music thing was out to get me. I absolutely did not understand what in the hell Heavy Metal Todd was talking about. He was a linear teacher and I was a non-linear student looking at symbols that I was supposed to translate into music by plucking strings of the same note. Gesundheit!
That night, I studied the words in our guitar text-book, and it was the same kind of nothing. It felt like I was failing algebra all over again! The next day, as I was explaining my predicament to a friend (with ADHD, mind you), she told me to stop reading all of the nonsense and just look at the patterns. I went home, looked at the patterns and I’m not kidding you, five minutes later, I was reading the music. I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I CAN READ MUSIC!!! That was a huge confidence booster, so I started on my homework. We were supposed to learn to play the first three lines of Spanish Theme, and selective overachiever that I am, I learned to play those lines, plus the thirteen that fell after. I could play it fast, I could play it slow, I could play it hanging upside down…I’m not going to lie…I kicked Spanish Theme’s ass, and I couldn’t wait to go back the next week to show Heavy Metal Todd what a good student I was. He was definitely going to rave about me, insisting that I was a natural and should continue on my acoustic guitar star path.
My next lesson couldn’t come soon enough, and when it finally did, if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I was a little tickled to hear everyone practicing Spanish Theme, clinching my idea that I was an extra-good beginner. If I weren’t so conscientious of other people’s feelings, I would have blasted them with my Spanish Theme before class ever got started. If I’m still being honest, I’ll admit that the only reason I didn’t blast them before class got started was because it didn’t seem like as much of a grand entrance, as waiting for the teacher to call on us one by one, hearing everyone painfully work through the strings before calling out “Stacey” to hear the sweet melody of natural, raw talent. Unfortunately my daydreams sometimes get the best of me, and my head slowly deflated when Todd finally showed up and asked us to all play Spanish Theme together. Definitely not a good way to showcase my newly found talent, but now I know, that was the least of my worries!
As we all began to play Spanish Theme together, I was horrified to realize that not only was I NOT Sheryl Crow Jr., I wasn’t even hitting the right strings! I went too fast, and then too slow, and then hit the wrong note, and then fell behind and then wrecked it trying to catch up. Even more horrifying than my guitar playing, was the fact that I was the ONLY person fucking up! Heavy Metal Todd went on to mention that “someone” wasn’t keeping up and was hitting the wrong notes, and was going to fast or going too slow. I GET IT, HEAVY METAL TODD! WE ALL DO! WE ALL KNOW YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ME! I SUCK! The entire thirty minutes, I never once was able to get into the rhythm of the class, which was basically no rhythm. I was so distracted by hearing the other students play the guitar, it basically canceled out any of the skill I had acquired over the past week, and there was nothing I could do to fix it. Twenty minutes later, when the music vomit was over, Heavy Metal Todd told me that I really needed to practice more often. I didn’t want to tell him that I had been practicing for two hours a day compared to his recommended thirty minutes, because at that point, it would have just been embarrassing as opposed to impressive. I did, however explain that I seemed to play better when I didn’t have any other noise around to which his reply was something along the lines of “good luck with that one as a musician”.
I guess Heavy Metal Todd and I just never got our rhythm. He taught in ways I couldn’t learn and I learned in ways he couldn’t teach. I felt ashamed and shamed, and never returned to the class. Damn brain. Don’t worry though…I’m not going to give up. I never give up. I just need to look for that teacher named ADHD Acoustic Albert. He’ll turn me into that acoustic guitar star I always knew I was…you’ll see.