Thursday, March 6, 2008

Please Don't Stop the...

Music has always made sense to me, with it's precise notes and scales and measures that can be arranged in an infinite number of ways. My parents tell that I would sing along with the soundtrack to "Annie," on record of course, starting at 2 years old. Most babies woke up crying for attention; I would wake up singing. I had imaginary friends that changed every day, and I made up voices and songs for them in the backyard. I began piano lessons at 6 years old, but only continued for about 6 months. I didn't want to practice, and the lessons were frustrating. I'd rather sit at the piano by myself and figure out songs, instead of learning scales and to read music. Though my piano career ended quickly, that knowledge has carried me through the rest of my life. When I began writing music a few years later, I returned to the piano, and that is still what I do.

When I was about 10, my elementary school allowed us to take up an instrument. I chose the clarinet, because I was told it was the easiest. My brother was playing the trumpet at the time, and horns just seemed so difficult! The clarinet looked like a recorder, and I had no problem playing that. A couple of years of lessons, and I gave that up as well. Middle school brought on a new music requirement. I chose the flute this time, and felt like I'd finally found my instrument. After playing two instruments a bit, learning another seemed easy. I pushed myself hard, and progressed quickly. My experience learning the flute inspired me to pick up any instrument I could find: my brother's trumpet, my friend's oboe, cymbals for the high school marching band (oh, yes), and my mom's 1970s acoustic guitar.

Over the years, I became proficient with at least nine instruments, but I just couldn't progress with the guitar. After many months of picking it up, only to lay it down after just a few minutes, I thought to restring it lefty. Suddenly, everything flowed in the right direction, and my hands knew exactly what to do. The guitar became my focus and my only instrument, except for occasional trips back to the piano for composition. I finally had a means to express my creativity, a medium to support my lyrical poetry, and a relaxation tool for when OCD got the best of me.

Unfortunately, this feeling did not last very long. After about 4 years of playing (circa 2003), the nerve damage in my right wrist (a softball injury when I was 15) wouldn't allow any more. I couldn't bend my wrist at the proper angle or grip the neck with enough pressure. I put the old acoustic away, and tried to forget about music.

The weekly ritual of Wednesday Night Drinking inspired me to go back to the one thing that allowed me to express myself in a creative and intelligent way. Within a few weeks, I was itching to play again. I tried to pick the acoustic back up, but my wrist had degenerated even more over the subsequent years, and there was no chance. In late July, I visited my brother Brian at Fort Campbell in KY, and a trip to the Gibson Custom store in Nashville solidified it. When I got back, I finally took the plunge, purchased a cheap new acoustic/electric, and started to teach myself to play right-handed.

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