Friday, June 19, 2009

That Damn Guitar! (and all that led up to it)

So I guess you could say I grew up in a relatively musical environment. While my mother claims to be lacking in that department, my father and his sister grew up harmonizing on the street corners of Jersey City. Hard to believe people actually did that but….they did. I grew up listening to them sing. For me, other than singing Somewhere Out There with my brother over and over….and over and over…..I really started to have a passion for music when I started elementary school, where every poor child is forced to join the chorus. Despite the horrible songs we had to sing like Baby Beluga and Yellow Submarine, and the wicked awful arrangements that destroyed songs I actually liked, I still came to really love music.

In 4th grade I got to tackle an instrument; the fluteafone. I guess you could say it’s a less fancy version of a recorder. That was truly the highlight of reaching the fourth grade. I’m sure we jammed out to some Mary Had A Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns with a little Twinkle Twinkle thrown in. BUT, the big climax of the flutafone lessons was learning the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club. Oh yeah, it was a big deal. I played that song with my fellow flutafone musicians proudly on stage and can still play it just as proudly to this day.

In 5th grade you were able to move up to REAL instruments, where I chose to take on the regular flute; mainly because my mother had borrowed one from my cousin, therefore, it was FREE. Again, we started with some Hot Cross Buns and Mary and her stupid Lamb but soon got to rock it out hard to………Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx . Alright, so maybe not so rockish.

6th grade was an exciting year. In addition to the flute, I started playing the trombone. Flute players weren’t cool enough to be in the Jazz band so I switched from the treble to the bass and attempted to play these jazzier songs on a big ole trombone. I say attempt because I really had no idea what I was doing. I faked my way through all those concerts like a pro. Who would notice? You know what those choirs and bands sound like anyway. It’s painful on the ears but the parents still go and cheer you on and tell you how wonderful it was and fabulous you were. Please! It was a train wreck. I watch back tapes of concerts and plays from High School even, and I have to run and hide under the bed from the horrible shrieking, frightening chords, and tone deaf singing.

Anyway, 6th grade was also the year we got to participate in drama club. It was what I had been waiting for since Kindergarten. Up til then, the highlight was playing a dog in the 1st grade Christmas play. We put on some small show where I played Repunzel and had like one line and then we did that Charlie Brown Halloween play; you know, the one with the pumpkin. I got cast as the unprovoked yet uber bitchy Violet. Not sure where that came from, or do I???? We got to skip around the audience singing Pumpkin Bells. While both the previous plays were enjoyable, the pinnacle was The Wizard of Oz. One of the best movies EVER; a true classic. Unlike the previous plays where they just cast whoever in whatever role, we actually had auditions for this play and I wanted in. Every girl dreams of being Dorothy right? Beautiful, cute dog, lives on a farm with chickens, on a fabulous adventure where she is the center of everyone’s story….. Well, not this girl. My heart was set on the Scarecrow. Dream role! The auditions were basically everyone standing on stage singing a mixture of songs from the show, and then they just picked people for various roles based on, well I have no idea really. Unless of course you wanted Dorothy. The Dorothy wannabees had a much more rigorous audition process. By rigorous I mean, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow alone instead of with 25 other people. Really tough stuff. Long story short, I was heart broken, literally, when they cast me as the Tin Man. Oil Can!

As the years progressed, I continued singing in choirs, attempted piano lessons, and was involved with musical theatre all through college. Since then, my musical passion really has no outlet, with the exception of course, of being an audience member to fabulous Broadway (or not) Shows and Clay Aiken concerts! Yes, I most certainly DID say Clay Aiken. I utilize my karaoke machine when I need to get my ‘sing on’ but other than an occasional play of Mickey Mouse Club on my flutafone I have no instrumental outlet.

A few years ago I had my father teach me some chords on his guitar. The guitar that, might I add, he would save in a fire over me. I was successful in learning two chords but then we got to the E, or maybe the F, who knows, and I found it virtually impossible for my fingers to maneuver in to that needed position. After a short time, I gave up despite my desire to learn. Guitars are cool. I want to be cool.

This past year I finally purchased Guitar Hero. And while it in no way simulates real guitar play, you do have to manipulate your fingers in strange configurations. Perhaps now I am ready to tackle this damn guitar! I borrowed my aunt’s last weekend and had my father tune it. It remains in the case. It remains untouched by me. It remains a huge intimidating thing on the floor. I will open that case, and I will learn more than 2 chords! Dammit guitar, I…….will…… win!

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