Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guitar and me

Watsup people! After my birthday I decided to take up the guitar for good, but the story of "guitar and me" goes way back. The first guitar lessons I had were at my high school, Waterford Kamhlaba back in 2002. CC, my guitar teacher, who incidentally was my Economics teacher, taught me a few basic songs like "Bailamos" and "Wild Thing", the lessons only lasted one term and I guess I wasn't too motivated to extend them.

In 2006 I decided to buy a guitar, I just bought the first one I saw, a transluscent green acoutic one with metal strings, hey it looked cute. Then I found a new tutor Albino Mbie (shout out to the man), this young cat was flippin good but he dissed my guitar sayin it wasn't good for beginners. He taught me from the drawing board cause I'd forgotten everything CC taught me. It was painful, I don't think any other instrument is as painful to play. Other than the pain for some reason I still wasn't fully into it, but he kept telling me I have what it takes to become a great player including the look! About 3 months later he won a scholarship to Berkley University in California (that's how good he was!). Before he left, I bought one of his classic nylon stringed acoustic guitars. So I had two guitars in my room...yet I did not even touch them, not until 2008. I got yet ANOTHER instructor, a friend of Albino's called Baloo (like the Jungle Book Baloo, kinda  looked like him too!). I didn't want to be taught at home, cause with Albino he always asked to borrow my stuff, movies, books and a dictionary that he never returned, so I didn't want to bathe in the same waters twice. We chose a location, one of his relative's house in the inner city about 6kms away from my house. Driving there was hell, especially at rush hour which was the only time that suited us both. I got easily bored, he wasn't a bad teacher, maybe it was the distance or the fact that he kept asking for money, but for some reason I termitated the lessons telling him I was short for time. He'd send me messages asking when we could resume the lessons, I'd always make up excuses and eventually stopped returning his sms'.

Regardless, I always saw beauty in a guitar player jamming, what Carlos Santana does to the guitar is amazing, he doesn't even have to talk, the guitar talks for him. Sara Tavares is the woman of my dreams, beautiful, natural dreads and an angelic voice accompanied by an accoustic guitar, my GOD what a woman! And everytime I saw guitar players, whether live or on the tube, that desire to play would come to life.

In 2009, I gave the metal stringed guitar away to a friend that was in a bit of a low point in life. We made plans to hook up with a guitar instructor and take up lessons together. My friend was completely disorganized, on two occasions he couln't set up the meeting. So we just left it at that.

In 2010 my father began playing the piano daily, after it had been accumulating dust for the past 2 years. Seeing my father play with such dedication motivated me to take another shot at the guitar. He had a tutor at the "Escola de Musica de Moรงambique", in the spur of the moment I told him I wanted to take up the guitar, this time for good, he thought it was a marvellous idea saying how an instrument can take you outside of all the worries. My dad's piano instructor hooked me up with the first instructor she came accross, a middle aged Cuban immigrant called Eladio Marcet. He looked serious enough, but after the first lesson I realized that I was gonna have a tough time understanding what the heck he was saying, trust me Tony Montana's accent is nothing compared to his thick Spanish/Portuguese mash-up. At times I had to ask him to repeat himself 3 or 4 times. Once again I started form ground zero, he taught me the proper posture, position, he showered me with theory, upon theory, upon theory, guitar staffs and all this stuff I couldn't find myself revising.
He always said, "tienes de practicar mais!!".
I'd dose off in his lessons, maybe it was the theory maybe it was the time (8:40am was too early for me at that time). Then he started skipping lessons. I'd wait in the school halls and he wouldn't show up. I'd call him and he'd tell me he was at the hospital tending to his sick wife or having car problems or something, all these delays put me off, and eventually I just stopped going there. We haven't spoken since.

One day in late 2010, I bumped into that friend of mine. He looked beat up, at 24 he was at University studying psychology, but had mediocre grades, paraded around lonely and couldn't get a date. He had taken up Taekwondo twice and quit, he had no other hobbies apart from playing the playstation, his conversations were generic, I'd known him for five years but right there talking to him I came to one conclusion, he had no self-esteem, the man was lost in life. At that moment in time I had a string of hobbies, swimming, asthanga yoga, tennis, creative writing, staying informed on current affairs, but I wasn't happy at my part time job and I didn't have a girl. I didn't want to be or end up like him. To add insult to injury he too hadn't touched the guitar in ages.

I did not want to quit learning, I'd had four different instructors and none of them worked out. It was in my grandma's 90th birthday party, November 6th, 2010, where I saw a prodigal kid playing the guitar. He left everybody's mouths agape. Sometime after the performance I approached him, congratulating him then asking him where he learnt how to play, he simply said, "on YouTube", in awe I exclaimed, "you got that good just by watching videos?!" and he replied, "yeah", and he summarily excused himself cause his family was about to leave. That kid must have been 12 years old, if a little kid like that could to that, I could do that. When I got home that same day I began searching for guitar sites. I found, which is so brilliant, it gives you the chords, the scales, the different tunings and other cool stuff. I began to self-teach, firstly by learning all major, minor and sharp/flat chords, revising them hours on end. At first it was painful, chords like D9 were close to impossible to play, my arm kept complaining, my wrist hurt, my finger tips were sore, I'd play take a break every five minutes. Yet I was tanacious, I had cramps on my hands for almost two weeks but refused to put the instrument down. I applied an anti-inflammatory gel to soothe my hands and began exercising my hands with a hand grip before playing. The cramps eventually went away and instead I've got permanent blisters on the tips of my left index, middle, ring and pinky, numbing all the pain. I bought an electronic chromatic tuner, this time inspecting well before the purchase. Then I found another neat site, giving me access to over 10400 guitar chords for different songs. I made a list, Bryan Adams (Heaven, Please forgive me), Michael Jackson (Black or White, Give into me, The way you make me feel), Enrique Iglesias (Escape), Nickleback (Hero), Eagles (Hotel California), Mariah Carey (Angels Cry), Celine Dion (My heart will go on), Ray J (Can we fall in love). I figured I didn't need to learn how to read notes on a staff and found the process to go much smoother, many of the greats don't know much theory. Ever since I've practised EVERY DAY. I've subscribed to some online tutors on youtube and stream videos after midnight (happy hour!).

I plan to excel at this instrument, I love what it does to me. I kill time with it, it makes me more creative and it's an escape. Ever since I started playing, I found a part-time job that I like, I've been meeting more girls, somehow things are falling more into place. I see myself serenading ladies one day, I see myself performing my own compositions one day. I believe my new hobby is improving every area of performance, opening new chanels in my brain. Sounds a bit overzealous but it's the best thing that's happened to me lately, I'd rather stay home playing the guitar than going out to get trashed in some party. This is my new passion and it's a never ending school I intend to keep going!

Edgar Munguambe 261210