ODY: Day 8. When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears

Dave the Teen Vegan Punk-rock Intellectual was able to fit me in before his shift at the bagel mill today. Week 2 of the Old Dog (new trick) Year has begun, and I was in need of correction, encouragement and some newfangled guitar fun. (Um, ah, serious new challenges on my midlife road to musical immortality, I mean. And All-World Alliteration!)

“Your strumming’s a lot better,” the TVPI observed, “but why are you holding on to the pick that way?” I thought I’d suavely picked up his quick going-out-the-door demonstration of pick-holding. Instead, I’d adopted the most ham-fisted approach possible. No metaphor – my hand was a fist, with the pick protruding like a tiny shark-fin between my thumb and the second knuckle of my forefinger. This may have been part of the reason that my strumming, though better coordinated, was also quite savage, with the pick assaulting the strings at a right angle. Once the approach was more gentle, things sounded instantly a bit more melodic. Whew! Another correction: apparently I not only need to learn more about music but also about my son’s henhouse handwriting. That was an E chord, not G, that I was having modest success at in week one. Okay! 

What else? Power chords and bar chords are not the same things! I felt that my left hand and wrist were about to go epileptic on me after 20 seconds of arranging my digits in the bar chord — the major bar chord — position, so we’ll work on stamina. Once I achieve a kind of manual rigor mortis, I figure, I’ll be all set. TVPI says the bar chords will allow me to just skate up and down the neck (two frets apart tend to sound good in transition, he claims). He’s written down for me the basic pattern of an octave, from A to G sharp, as well as the simplified tablature of his favourite simple blues riff. I hope I still understand it tomorrow. (Oh, I’ll show you blues, buddy. I’ll show you blues.)

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