I wish I were a natural, but I am no prodigy. I began playing the piano at eight years old. I started to play the guitar in seventh grade. I have taken violin lessons. Taken music in college. Every time I sit down to the piano, I have to relearn everything. My brother can still play the same songs he learned when we were kids. I can’t pick out Mary Had a Little Lamb.
My son, Andy, on the other hand, is a musician. He can hear the music. I have to read music. He can just play it. When he was twelve years old, he had dreadlocks and pirate earrings, a Bob Marley t-shirt, and a banjo that he walked around the neighborhood with, playing loudly, stopping along the way to entertain. By then, he had taught himself seven instruments.
Doug and I love to sing and our children can too, so we spent a fair amount of time singing karaoke with them at bars. Our house was filled with music and singing. When the children moved out, it got rather quiet. I played the fiddle and Doug played the mandolin, but neither of us were particularly enthralled, or very good, so when we moved, we sold all of our instruments. Noticing my regret, Doug bought me a guitar for my birthday that year.
My fingers do not quite reach to set the pads of my fingertips directly on the string so my songs always sound slightly off. Lessons did me little good, because the much younger teachers gave me songs like, “Oh Susanna” and told me to practice it a million times. Easily bored, I would just stop playing with a shrug. I am no prodigy but I also have the attention span of a Border Collie.
We now have a piano and my guitar that I play here and there. Andy has been playing the ukulele a lot over the past year and a half or so. He is, of course, great at it. He assured me that this is the instrument for me! He bought me one and it arrived in the mail Friday.
He talked me through it over Snapchat video and gives me lessons and things to practice that work for me. It is a larger ukulele but small enough that my fingers reach the strings easily and the sound is so great! I am already picking up the chords and he is having me learn songs so that we can play together. I gained a new instrument and a great teacher.
Music fills our home again. Isn’t that a quintessential requirement for a homestead? Playing mountain music for the corn. Instruments are an important part of the simple life. What would you like to play?