When I was child, I discovered an old Fender guitar stuck in the back of a closet. The body was in bad shape, the frets were broken and the strings were terribly out of tune. I soon discovered that it had belonged to my father. It was one of the relics of my parents divorce. My older cousin told me that my father was a pretty good guitar player who inspired him to take up the instrument.
That old guitar allowed me to create my own version of Guitar Hero long before it became a popular video game. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I’d rock out like I was a member of an 80s hair band (back when I actually had hair). That guitar was also the only connection I had with my father because my memories of him were vague.
As I grew up, my passion for music increased. I spent countless hours listening to jazz, rock, hip-hop, gospel, and R&B music on my low-budget record player. Sadly that old Fender finally broke down and my mom couldn’t afford to buy me a guitar or pay for lessons. All of my guitar dreams eventually faded away.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I considered picking up a guitar again. I bought a cheap beginner Fender Starcaster with hopes of teaching myself to play. After a few weeks of frustration, I realized that I was a terrible guitar teacher and stuck the instrument in the back of my closet.
When I turned 40, I examined my life to see if I had any regrets. The first thing that popped into my mind was the guitar. I knew that I had to learn to play or else I’d spend the rest of my life with a dream deferred.
An ancient Asian proverb says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” My wife, KayEm, discovered a piano teacher who was willing to come to our house to give private lessons to her and my daughter. For some reason, I had taken my old guitar out of the closet and placed it near the piano. The teacher noticed the guitar and asked KayEm if I played. KayEm told her that I didn’t but I had always wanted to learn. The teacher informed KayEm that she also taught guitar. I was so excited when KayEm shared the news with me that I immediately scheduled lessons and bought myself a new guitar.
I’m so happy that I’m making my guitar playing dreams come true. I may never become a virtuoso, but I am content with learning to play a few of the songs that I love. An added benefit is that playing music is now a family activity. My wife, daughter and I help each other to improve our skills. I’ve also purchased a guitar for my 7-year old son and my 3-year old will get a drumset for Christmas.
I’m also glad that I am able to show my kids that you are never too old to learn something new. Hopefully, follow my example and enjoy a lifetime of learning.
For your listening pleasure, I’ve recorded myself playing the first song I’ve learned, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” As I progress, I’ll continue to add sound clips and videos of my playing.
Questions: Have you learned something later in life? Is there still something on your “bucket list” that you want to accomplish?