G is for Guitar Lessons at Matty’s Music Centre. Seventh of 26 posts in the April 2023 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: Endwell: My High School Years — adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey. [Note: This post is also a #MusicMovesMe blog hop. Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…]
When Britpop and R&B music took off in the Sixties, the guitar became a very popular instrument among teens.
Simultaneous development of a youth counterculture, featuring folk tunes, message music, and a blues revival, only added to the guitar’s mystique – and I longed to play.
Other instruments came first
However, my mom (Peg) was a music teacher (more on her in Letter P) — so besides making sure I was in the school chorus, she tried me out on a variety of other instruments first.
Piano lessons were a given, as we had an upright tucked in the basement behind our rec room. I studied piano with Miss LaFrance up the street, who Mom also sometimes called on to accompany her students’ performances.
From those lessons, I learned to drill scales, play some basic classics, and read music. I kept at it until I learned to play “Moon River” (the 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie theme) by heart, but then my interest waned.
Mom also tried me on clarinet (I found the reeds fascinating, but didn’t take to it), recorder (fingering was too tricky), and violin (which cricked my neck). But nothing stuck until I took up the guitar – ironically, the one instrument Mom couldn’t play!
At last: the guitar!
Naturally, I wanted to accompany myself on pop and rock-and-roll and even bluesy tunes like Lenny Welch’s “Since I Fell for You” – one of my all-time favorite songs, which hit the charts in 1963. And I wasn’t averse to learning some folk songs, either.
Alas, Mom hooked me up with a country and western guitar teacher – maybe the only one she could find or afford. He wore plaid flannel shirts and jeans and would wow me with Chet Atkins-style country guitar riffs at the start of our lessons in the back room of Matty’s Music Centre. Sigh.
Luckily, though, he was good at teaching the basics, and I was motivated. Before long I had mastered the guitar capo and finger picking, and learned enough chords to work my way through the Joan Baez Songbook. I eventually figured out the chords for “Since I Fell for You,” too!
A wonderful creative outlet
One of my favorite folk tunes was Woodie Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd” about an outlaw who used his funds to help poor folks. I sang it to my toddler sisters at bedtime, and they always called it “Deputy Sheriff” after Floyd’s first confrontation with a lawman who insulted his wife.
(Those bedtime concerts apparently made a lasting impression, because my youngest sister Carol surprised me by telling the story at my retirement party!)
Once I proved I was serious, Mom upgraded me from a starter guitar to a Yamaha acoustic – which I still have. I didn’t perform, I just played for pleasure – and that guitar provided a wonderful, creative outlet for me throughout my high school years.
Up next, H is for Homecoming Float. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.
This post is also a #MusicMovesMe blog hop, powered by Linky Tools. Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…
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