Both the blog, which has been used for nothing but announcements of poetry crap for a while, and my gosh darn guitar lesson books. Yeah, both need to be dusted off. As I write this, I remain absolutely terrible at maintaining the attention span necessary for book study. I used to be so good at it as a kid, but lesson books are such a snore I find myself far too easily distracted to get much out of them most of the time. That’s the fault of my brain, not the book, but facts are facts. I’m an interactive learning sort of gal, and sitting down to study always, ALWAYS feels like a chore. No matter how you dress it up, there’s a part of my brain that says ‘dammit, I’m too old for homework!’

But, I’m trying, once again, to buckle down and have cracked open ‘Guitar for Dummies’ again. I’m going to try (and probably fail gloriously) to spend a good 15-30 minutes a day with it. If I plan for 15 minutes, that just sounds so much more bearable than planning to do x # of pages, or a chapter, or whatever. 15 minutes is just 15 minutes, and if I spend more than that with it, then go me, I had an attention span for once in my life. And, if (cough-when-cough)I fail at 15 minutes a day strictly dedicated to book learning, if I at least manage to do it more days of the week than I don’t, I should still make some decent progress.

I didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but I am pretty close to it, so a lot of what I’m looking at is mostly recap. I already know the chords they’re teaching me, but there’s some value in going over it, I think, and trying to get my stubborn brain to absorb things like “chord families” and something vaguely resembling the minutest corner of basic theory.  Also, playing different patterns, because I’ve found lately my hand seems to be locked in the same rhythm and I need to do something out of the ordinary to escape the trap I’ve fallen into with that, or I’ll just be writing the same song over and over again into infinity.

And, as a result, I’ve just spent over 5 minutes playing Kumbaya, of all the dumb songs in the world. Seriously, though, I legitimately hate ‘Kumbaya’, and played it for over 5 minutes anyway. Okay, maybe I played it while singing ‘this song is so lame/yes it is’ instead of the real lyrics, but the point is in the exercise, dammit.

What I’ve found interesting, having the tiny amount of knowledge that I have, and going back to really just the barest of bare bones stuff like this, is that what little knowledge I have changes things and fills in some blanks. The book is not at upstrokes yet, but my ears and brain just somehow know that this part here should absolutely be an upstroke, because it just IS. My ears know it. My hands know it. It’s somehow obvious in a way that can’t be easily explained.

What’s also kind of neat is that, for someone who doesn’t read music at all, (I’m so fricking unfocused. I really want to learn, just…apparently not enough to actually buckle down and do it.) is that knowing how the song goes, and what my ears know, there’s a very small way in which some of the music symbols reveal themselves.  You can’t tell a lot about how the song is meant to go just by the slash marks counting out the beats, because those slash marks are not necessarily all individual strokes. But, if you know what your ears are hearing and telling your hands to play, you can tell the notes are sort of saying that.

Like, okay, I can’t tell what the notes are, in and of themselves, but my ears tell me what the count is. (In this case, it’s sort of… 1-2-3-and-4, 1-2-3.) So, from that I can look and see, ‘oh yeah, see, three notes, a pause, then two strums and the second rings out.  So, it seems like that means a big curved line between two notes means ‘let this ring out’ and a dot after a note is functionally like a period at the end of a sentence saying ‘pause here’.  I don’t know, maybe that’s wrong. If so, further reading will, theoretically, correct me, but what seems to be the case is that, while my ears can’t teach me which note goes on which line, it can sort of teach me the part of reading music that involves timing and duration, provided I use my ears and know how to count, which are two things, at least, that I can handle just fine. Playing along with additional songs will confirm or debunk what I seem to have learned tonight…provided this information sticks inside my brain long enough to do me any good.

Until next time, I have a lesson book in front of me, dammit! What’s the world coming to?

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