Monday, July 31, 2006

liveblogging the wait for my now-tardy monday afternoon guitar student to show up

The good thing about these summer months is that it is easy for parents to forget about things like guitar lessons. The company I teach for will still charge them, as the contract clearly covers these things, and I will get paid while being able to hold that week’s lesson over to the next.

Cha-ching, as it were, but on a very small scale.

I’m down to two students now, and each is an absolute beginner. There is a girl who practices religiously and wants me to teach her all manner of songs from these endless teen acts spawned by the Disney channel. I don’t mind it so much since she’s evidently enthusiastic about the instrument and has already started writing songs with the seven chords she’s been shown thus far.

She's only eight, by the way. I had a guitar at the age of eight but did not attempt to learn how to play it until much later. By then the neck had warped from years of using it as a bow to launch homemade arrows.


Damn. They’re here within the grace period. I’ll be back shortly.

(You can either choose to simply imagine a lapse of a half an hour or so or go somewhere else on the Internet and come back in that same allotted time. Actually, you should better make it more like forty minutes, as Carl Weathers demands to be fed and let outside immediately following a guitar lesson.)

Yes. Anyway, that was the other student, a ten year old boy with a healthy curiosity in musical instruments but a noticeable lack of enthusiasm when it comes to learning how to play them. For example: Today we went over the minor pentatonic scale in G. He can navigate it reasonably well and I told him as much in more youth-centric terminology.

I believe your exact words were: “Yo, you gots the mad minor pentatonic on the G-tip manipulatin’ skillz, Beeee-otch!”

No, they weren’t. Besides, I think my teaching methods fall under the same rules as attorney-client privilege or something and are therefore a private matter. Anyway, that’s not the point.

Once he had finished the scale I asked him to attempt it backwards. It is an extremely easy scale and he picked it up in no time at all. It was a reasonable request on my part.

“No”, he said. “That sounds hard”.

I then slowly showed him how easy it was, but he only shook his head and told me that it also looked hard.

Things didn’t start off well with this one either. I always like to talk to the kids about the music they listen to at first, and this particular student only had one influence to list: Tim McGraw.

My face twitched at this and I began to involuntarily mumble something. The kid then told me that I had used some bad words and asked me what “arch nemesis” meant.
“That comes later”, I told him.

Look, I suppose expecting a kid in fourth grade to show up here with an Elvis Costello album tucked under his arm is about as realistic as him also showing up with a box of cigars and a nice bottle of pinot noir for me to enjoy while I teach it to him. It won’t happen, and the best I can hope for is a kid who would rather learn Hendrix than (insert name of the Korn guitarist here; I’m not going to bother looking it up).

Those kids at least have a reasonable shot of one day appreciating Django Reinhardt.

Hell, maybe the Korn kids would even like some Django. Perhaps I underestimate them.

Still, I don’t see that sort of desire occuring in anyone who confines themselves to the McGraw body of work. Were I to make that leap occur, I would sort of be like that lady who taught Helen Keller how to do those things she did to get famous so that people would tell jokes about her, but in a good way. My story would be the stuff of after school specials or maybe even a Hallmark movie.

Nevermind. I seem to recall that Hallmark movies are just the place for Tim McGraw songs.

At any rate, I like the kid because he spends most of his time pointing to the various other instruments around the room and asking interesting questions about each. This allows me to play the upright bass or mandolin a bit and answer questions, therefore imparting some knowledge within the lesson time and relieving myself of any guilt that may arise if I am ever implanted with a conscience.

Still, methinks that some kids would be better served with lessons on how to use one’s guitar as a makeshift bow. This would allow the instrument to serve a purpose until ths student inspired by the need to impress high school girls or whatever it is that drives them to want to more properly manipulate the guitar.
I would call it “Guitarchery”.


Blogger SistaSmiff said...

Teach the little lad "Buckaroo." He'll thank you later.

And tell him about Tony Rice. Cause Sista Smiff said so.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Guitarchery should be the motor city madman's anthology title... the Nuge' can sure use his axe with some arrows... at least I think he can... I think I saw that once on his VH1 show...

tha b.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Juan Horsetown said...

And this is why I couldn't teach guitar.

I was given my first guitar, tuned as one but a little more than ukulele-sized, when I was around five. I smashed it mimicking what I'd seen on Tom and Jerry. It would be years before I would get another guitar and many more before I'd learn to play, but that earliest encounter taught me that I was destined to rock.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous eric said...

I had drums. Guitars were for pussies...or is it pussys...

Anyway, I started like so many others with mom's tuperware, a magazine rack, & some kitchen knives for sticks. After several years of proving myself worthy, the gods graced me with a set of blue metalflake Ludwigs...

No cymbals, mind you, but I had drums. So I made due with wedging the aforementioned magazine rack between two of the tomtoms, & off I went. Then the gods (via santa) sent me some Camber cymbals...

I was a regular Peter Kris I tell ya... Loved that shit I surely did. I'll never forget the hot summer day that found me rocking along to ozzy in my upstairs bedroom, thinking myself all alone in the house. And all alone I was, until our preacher (church of christ...old school style) gre tired of knocking on the door & saw fit to just let himself in. Imagine my horror as I rip through "Over the Mountain" & look up to see him giving my his best "You are going straight to hell young man" glare...

Good times.

12:55 PM  
Blogger dailydiablogger said...

Good Lord man, that was a long post. May I suggest you check out this other teacher's blog call I totally thought this was the direction you were going.

By the way, I'm still waiting for that pocket Rex.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

My sister directed me to tard-blog a while back and I found it to be so wrongly amusing.


10:40 PM  

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