…..interesting, to say the least.
Rushing ahead here!
Having trawled the interweb for local lessons, I settled on a nice lady teacher who also taught singing. She had a guitar that she loaned to rank beginners. I discovered that the first lesson was free too. Always a bonus. I was a bit worried as I didn’t want to be made to feel small for being an adult learner, nor did I want to feel intimidated by some 6′ male guitarist who plays like Malmsteen in his sleep.
I went to my first lesson and she asked my name, age and whether I had played before and then taught me how to play a D chord and we spent 10 minutes or so on getting to grips with it and then she showed me an A chord and we spent 10 minutes on that. She then told me the notes of the strings and that was that. I booked another lesson for the following week. It all seemed fine and I liked it. I had managed to get the strings to sound out while playing a D chord with a minimal of muttering, less so with the A. My finger tips hurt like hell but I’d had fun and didn’t feel like a total doofus.
From there, I had the rest of the afternoon to myself so thought that I’d better get a guitar to practice with. I headed off to a music shop and spoke to the man there. I felt quite brave when I went in, but not when I came out again. He suggested one particular guitar, a 3/4 size classical guitar “because you are a woman” but he wouldn’t let me hold it, let alone have a quick strum. Anyway, it was a horrible colour and I didn’t much like it.
My Husband picked me up from the city and suggested that we pop into PMT on the outskirts of the city. That was a fairly terrifying thought. A proper guitar shop, with dirty great blokes who are probably in really great bands and that have probably been playing since they were embryos, or at least since they were toddlers. I followed Husband in, a bit gingerly. There were electric guitars everywhere, drums over to the right, keyboards over in a side room, it was all a bit scary. A large bearded chap asked if he could help us and I squeaked out that I had decided to have a guitar lesson and needed a beginners guitar please.
He led us upstairs, asking about budget and suggested not getting a cheap guitar as I’d probably hate it and give up as cheap guitars can be pretty horrible. I thought that that sounded about right, after all I told people that all day about brushes, combs & clippers for grooming their dogs. The chap, called Giles, got out about 8 guitars, of varying shapes and prices and said to give them all a go and see which, if any, I liked. He explained that guitars all sound different and to go with one that I like the sound and feel of. He said that he was happy to get others if I didn’t like any of them. He was not phased at all, when I said that I could only play a D chord and an A chord. He says everyone starts there and by next week I’ll probably have a good 4 chords more under my belt and taught me a G chord for good measure.
I spent a good hour trying guitars. I wasn’t rushed, nagged or ‘sold’ a guitar and settled, in the end with a guitar that was slightly over budget but I loved it – still do – an Epiphone Dove. So pretty and it sounded great to me. I went home with it and practiced D and A and then changing between the 2 chords until my fingers were really sore, then had some tea.
The next day, I went back to PMT and asked about a good ‘how to play guitar’ book and was pointed towards 3 good books and chose the Justin Sandercoe book and went back home and practiced some more. By the time I went back to my lady guitar teacher I could play a D, A & E chords, both major and minor. I could change between chords, slowly but I could change. I had a fairly solid G chord and had learned Three Little Birds and Common People. She was impressed and I was thrilled that she was happy. She taught me Amazing Grace and I went off home with a couple of handouts showing me the finger positions of a D, A & E chord, I knew them already and had them in Justin’s book but didn’t like to say.
A few days later I went back to PMT for a tuner and a fatter pick as Mrs Guitar Teacher had recommended a really, really thin pick and it was getting decidedly bent and I felt that I needed something a wee bit fatter. Heck, my tesco clubcard keyring fob was fatter than that first pick. While chatting with the sales guy there, not Giles, he handed me a business card for Norwich Guitar Academy, with the name Leigh Sullivan on.
The sales chap seemed very concerned that I had handouts that were a week behind me and that the picks that she was recommending were a bit pants. He was also a bit concerned that the lady said that she only taught beginners and went through the main chords, barre chords and power chords and that was it. He seemed to think that I was going to be put off playing by someone who wanted to teach more slowly than I was learning. He said that this Leigh chap was awesome and that he couldn’t recommend him highly enough.
That evening I dropped Leigh an email asking for information. The following evening I had an appointment for a free lesson the following Friday at 7pm, my Husband decided that he was going to play too and had the slot afterwards. Thought that I had better knuckle down and practice so that I didn’t look a complete tit in front of this highly recommended, very talented teacher. Anyway, he was probably huge, bearded, grumpy and wasn’t going to have any truck with some nearly 50 year old suddenly wanting to learn guitar. I’d seen various horror stories about some male guitar teachers so I was glad that Husband wanted to come along too.
That’s how the first couple of weeks panned out. I had a guitar, a great book and a so-so teacher who seemed very nice but a bit wishy-washy, sore fingers and a bit of a hunger for knowledge.