Thursday, January 26, 2017
Well bless my 80s heart
I ENJOY WORKING with new guitar students. I have many more experienced (older) students right now that are checking off bucket lists, want to play with grandkids or in church, or have time and want a challenge. And learning guitar is a challenge. I wish I could sprinkle magic fairy guitar dust over everything and make it easy, but it doesn't work that way.
That being said, I had amazing experiences with younger students this week that lifted me from January doldrums and made teaching a blast.
The first was with a 14-year-old girl. She is already a good player, and learned from an area teacher. She uses all the right techniques and she is versed in chord transition and fingerstyle playing. But .... she's never played scales and she wants to learn how to pick out melody lines from songs. Aha! My specialty!
Our first lesson was so much fun. Then, at the end, she told me about a song she wants to learn for her eighth-grade graduation. It's called "Goodbye." I thought maybe she was referring to the cringing Nickelback version. "Nope," she said. "It's by an 80s band. Maybe you have heard of them, I think they are called Night Ranger."
Night Ranger? NIGHT BLEEPING RANGER? Well bless her hairball-loving, guitar-crunching and head-banging little heart. Turns out her mother is a huge 80s rock fan. So she's being raised right. Are we gonna have some fun in guitar lessons, or what?
It's the first time I've heard the song in 30 years, and it's a blast to play. We learned about putting the capo on the second fret to make it way easier. She's happy. Mom is happy. And I'm over the rock anthem moon.
Yesterday one of my teenage boys came in and floored me by playing "Blackbird." I showed him how to do the intro two weeks ago, and now he flies through it without effort. "My grandpa showed me how to do it," he said. "So we've been playing it together."
I almost cried.
This young man has come a million miles in a very short time. I am not afraid to admit he is a better guitar player than I am. We can still learn stuff - I floored him by demonstrating how drop D can make Nirvana songs waaaaaayyyy cooler - and I hope we keep rocking.
Sometimes you just have to sit back, take stock, and admit you are living the charmed life. I have a great wife, our own business, a band full of miscreants that just want to have fun (Cheeseburgers), a girl singer who careens from Metallica to Miranda in a heartbeat (HartLyss), and a jam band which never practices but somehow continues to pick up the odd gig (Pepper Spray). Once in a while I'll go out on my own or jam with my mandolin-playing buddy, Paul Lester, or that blues-infused slide guy of doom, Rock A Bye Johnny Barnard.
Pinch me. I'm in 80s rock and roll heaven, and it's 2017. I am blessed and grateful. And I'm gonna learn more Night Ranger songs. Rock on!