November 17, 2010

Music Notes: Acoustic & Electric

On crisp autumn nights like this, I like to spend a little quality time with my classical guitar; inspired music, candlelight, and green tea—recipe for a peaceful evening. Tonight, I broke out all of my favorite pieces (Bach, Tarrega, Sor, Villa-Lobos) and let my soul be in harmony with each precious note. The classical guitar has always had a way of unburdening my mind. For me, it is almost meditative.

Would you believe that I became a musician because my mother made me do it?

I had played the tuba for a year in the elementary school band, but I didn't really enjoy it. I was much more into sports at that point in my life. Little League was basically the focus of my time back then.

When I was about 8 or 9, my mother approached me and said, "I'd like for you to learn how to play the guitar." I told her that I had no interest and she let the issue drop. A few months later, she came to me again, "I'd like for you to learn how to play the guitar." Once again, my answer was that I would not enjoy it. Then, one day when she and I were out driving, she pulled the car into the parking lot of the local music store.

"What are we doing here?" I questioned her.

"Let's just ask about guitar lessons," she answered.

I walked into the music store grumbling under my breath, already devising excuses in my head as to why I would NOT take lessons. When I stepped into the store, there was a man seated on a stool playing a guitar. I watched as his fingers moved with grace across the fretboard, creating the most amazing sounds. I became absorbed by the music and I must have stood there watching him play for 20 minutes, looking around every now and then to take in the beauty of the guitars that hung on the walls all around me. 

"Guitar is cool!" I said to my mother after a while. And that was it, I was changed forever. I started taking guitar lessons, devoting as much time as I could to practice, and learning everything available to me about music and guitar. These days, a trip to the music store is a pleasure and I still get excited when I see a wall of beautiful instruments in front of me. :) 

It all makes me think back to my days of singing in rock bands. I had several bands and we used to play the club circuit. The performing was always fun, though I certainly don't miss the nights of lugging heavy equipment to the venues.

Now, I've always been a rather high-octane performer. I feel very free on stage and it shows in my stage presence. In front of an audience, I am basically fearless.

There was one gig that we were playing at a club called the Roxy, I can't recall what song we were playing, but it had broken out into a guitar solo. I was hanging out back by the bassist as our guitarist riffed away at the front of the stage. As he finished his solo, he and I looked at each other and some kind of mood just struck us both. We ran toward to center of the stage and jumped into the air, crashing into one another and falling to the floor in a musical lump. It was great fun! The moment was captured on video somewhere, but I haven't seen it in years.

Anyway, as I was getting up, I noticed that the microphone that I was using had slipped out of my hand and had broken into three pieces on the stage floor. I quickly grabbed it up and put it back together as best I could. It all seemed fine, until I brought the microphone back to my lips to sing the next line. I got a shock to the mouth that made my teeth light up. I heard a distressed yelp escape my mouth and be broadcast over the house PA system. (Actually, I probably never sounded so good, LOL).  It is a funny moment to look back on, though I probably didn't think so at the time.

Today, may your heart vibrate and resonate like the strings of a cherished instrument…

"And he has filled him with the Spirit of God,
with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge,
and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs,
to work in gold and silver and bronze."

~Exodus 35:31-32