Practising Musical Instruments

Posted on: February 12, 2012

I planned that I was going to write about how enthusiastically I had taken up playing my guitar again ,after a long break, in preparation for my drama groups and crèches so we could all sing along in the old fashioned way.

I took my faithful old guitar to the music shop just after Christmas to have it re-stringed and picked it up two weeks later.  I was informed that the neck of my guitar was bending beyond repair and that there would be no point replacing the new strings when broken because it was on its last legs.  I was told that it would still play in tune even if there was a gap between the strings and the frets, which wasn’t supposed to be there.  I took it home and tuned it in – each string seemed to tune up successfully but when I played the notes together it sounded as if  I was playing all of the wrong notes.

I am really quite saddened by the demise of my guitar bought from Argos in Romford in 1996 when I taught in a school in Dagenham.  I decided that I wanted to be able to accompany my class with a musical instrument and signed up for lessons in Dagenham College every Monday evening.  I used to travel by bus and by train to get to my lessons and for the first five or six lessons I was too self concious to play in front of my very patient tutor.  Eventually I learnt how to read music and play the guitar to a level which enabled me to accompany the children in my class.  I even decided to share my new skill by giving guitar lessons to interested children.  When I look at my guitar I feel the enthusiasm and hope coming from it and do feel as if I have lost a connection to a time passed.

When I moved back up to Cumbria I continued to share my guitar playing with children who were interested in an introduction to playing the instrument  – I found a letter. that I hadn’t realised was there, tucked into one of the pages of my music book from a parent informing me of how ‘ecstatic’ her son was having guitar lessons.  The little boy is now approximately seventeen years old and I hope that he did benefit from sharing my enthusiasm for the guitar.  My own son has shown interest in musical instruments and will probably inherit my guitar when I replace it – he is nearly three and it won’t matter having a slight discrepancy with the notes because he will be plucking the strings randomly.

While I was teaching in Dagenham I also decided to learn how to play the recorder and had the privilege of six or seven enthusiastic girls who wanted to learn with me – I say learn with me because it really was learning as I learned.  We would practice every lunchtime and lots of playtimes because we were determined to play this simple instrument.  We could all read music and play songs for the rest of the class to join in (I am not certain about the accuracy of the pace and rhythm though).  By the time I left the girls were ready to be taught properly by the much more experienced music teacher who arrived at the school.  I hope that they too made use of their musical skills.

I am spending every spare minute at the moment practising the recorder and can’t wait to play it accompanied by a group of young children shaking the instruments they have just made.  As soon as I replace my guitar I will make new memories and am thinking of learning the flute.

Being able to make music – at whatever level is a joy and a gift – so cast off your fears and enjoy yourself with anything that plays a tune and brings joy to your heart and everyone else – if you are too squeaky just play for yourself!


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February 2012

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