Giving It a Go

One spring day in the music room of Bruton Heights Elementary School, we had the opportunity to try out for musical instruments. At the time, I wanted to play clarinet because my aunt did and she said it was pretty easy to play. When it was my turn to blow into the mouth piece, I got nothing. Quickly, the teacher pointed me towards the trumpet. Same result. Later that night, my parents gave me a choice of a new baseball glove or music lessons.

Hello, Mr. Rawlings! Goodbye music lessons.

Some years later, in the chorus room at Lafayette High School, a group of us were practicing a song for the West Side Story. Again, my ineptitude with the musical world would show it’s flat side. The chorus teacher said, “I can hear one of you. You’re off key.” Heck, I didn’t even know what a “key” was, so I went back to baseball practice after that. Music had become a humiliation for me.

Which is really too bad because I love listening to music and fancy myself as a creative person. Given the choice of being a professional athlete or professional musician, I might choose the latter, even though I spent a lifetime playing sports and for the last two decades have made a living teaching kids how to play. I’ve really been bugged by my musical illiteracy. I want to write a song in the worst way, but when I put the words down, my son who is a guitar player, politely tells me a poem is not a song. At least not the poems I’m writing.

All rights reserved-Chris Hancock

My time to learn guitar came this summer. Accepting my past musical failures was no longer an option. I finally decided that I was going to make something of my love for music even if that meant destroying the peacefulness of my little home. I would pick away at the strings on my new-used guitar until my fingers bled. And I would do it my way, through YouTube of course so I would be free of judging ears that would send my weak constitution running at the first criticism. After a couple of months of sort of practicing, I should be clear about my playing:

I pretty much suck.

Perhaps I’m lazy. Maybe I’m supremely unconfident. Whatever, the reason, I just don’t get much of what I’m doing. I watch the videos, I get a few tips from the Boy Wonder, and I let loose the same mess others heard back in elementary and high school. Could it be I’m just bad at music? I’m not sure, but I’m not quitting on this. I figure I’ve got about five hours of practice in (Lazy…) and every now and then something sounds decent. At least as decent as my two chords (E and C) can sound. Dare I say I am improving?

One thing is for sure, though. I won’t have baseball to bail me out again. I don’t own a glove anymore.