June 26, 1975 Sense and Nonsense
Many people that you meet at house-parties seem to be musically inclined, A few are more inclined than musical but most can play a musical instrument to an extent or else are able to sing on key. At some house-parties there seems to be more musical instruments than people. Most of these are guitars although there are always a few rugged individuals who play a banjo, mandolin, or accordion. As the party progresses, brand new talents emerge. Some people raid the hostesses’ cutlery, not to steal the spoons but to play them. They place the spoons back to back, holding them chopstick fashion between the fingers. I tried it once and discovered it is not easy to do. The best spoon players must practice a lot in their spare time – probably after every meal.
I am sure there must be an easier instrument to learn to play than a guitar. One must not only learn where to place their fingers and how to strum, but also to do both at once. I found it is a lot like patting your head while rubbing your tummy. During my one and only guitar lesson I found myself becoming confused and having to fight the urge to strum with my fret fingering fingers and fret finger with my strumming fingers. This may have been psychological because of the pain. All the fingers on my left hand became sore very quickly. Why can’t they make guitar strings out of some softer material than they do? I understand that this is part of the test of whether you will make the grade as a guitar player or not. If there were no pain involved there would probably be a lot more guitar players than there already are.
Another problem is that one cannot have long fingernails on their left hand, although they are an advantage on the strumming hand. The fingernails save the necessity of using a pick. If you see someone with short fingernails on one hand and long ones on the other it is a safe bet that they play guitar.
I have always loved to sing. I discovered at a tender age that people prefer to hear you sing on key. When I was a child I used to diligently learn all the words to a song and I would learn the tune, too. I was fine until I opened my mouth. The words would come out alright but the tune would stay inside. This didn’t bother me too much at that time, I would sing anyway in a very loud voice. I sang all the time. I sang in the house, in the barn and on the way to school. I even sang in school sometimes. Other kids had to sit in the corner for chewing gum. I had to sit in the corner for singing.
One day the teacher handed me a brand new package of gum and told me I could chew gum in school anytime I wanted to. The other kids thought this made me teacher’s pet but I knew differently. My feelings were badly hurt. I never sang out loud when there was anyone around from that day forth. Instead I would sing mentally. I still have this habit at times. I guess it must be a trifle disconcerting to see someone with a glazed look in their eye, tapping their foot and snapping their fingers when there is no audible music in the house at all.
My husband would like me to learn to play bass guitar. He insists that it is easy to play and if I learned he and I could play together on long winter nights, instead of playing crib or watching T.V. He taught me one tune and he was right. It is easy or at least easier than regular guitar. I had “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” down pat until we plugged the instrument into the amplifier. Instantly my mind went blank and my fingers immobilized.
The instrument that can express my talents has to be much quieter than the bass. Until I find a painless quiet musical instrument to learn to play, I am afraid I shall have to continue singing mentally