Playing it out

By Josh Albrecht

Learning to play the guitar is one hard pastime, but it is a process I am willing to tackle.

Unfortunately, when I started honing the craft of guitar-playing, I was met with the fact that I couldn’t immediately play as well as Eric Clapton or even as good as Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day.

Thus disgusted with my playing ability, I quickly quit playing my six-string baby and turned back to things that I was already good at like video games and listening to others play the guitar.

Then two years later, I bought my first Cat Stevens CD and was whisked away to a magical land of guitar wonderment, and I immediately wondered why I had given up playing the guitar.

I realized that like many things in life, learning how to play an instrument would take some time and plenty of practice and the reason why I had given it up was because I thought it was going to be easy.

It is not like I learned to walk in two weeks, or that my ability to have verbal dialogue with others occurred without first saying words like “blatphleb” or thinking that cows were called “Moo Moos.”

Apparently, learning the guitar would take some time.

My first mistake came when I stopped playing the guitar because I couldn’t play a “D” chord. Actually, the first mistake came when I didn’t join our school’s band in fifth grade. And why didn’t my parents make me join and play the oboe?

But, alas, I never learned an instrument, and now my lack of musical knowledge is slapping me in the face because, like foreign languages, learning a musical instrument is easier at a younger age.

And that is why it is important for people to learn about music and to learn how to play music when they are young. There are plenty of studies that promote this line of thinking. And the Web site explains the importance of music in a person’s educational process.

After all, Jon Bon Jovi received his first guitar when he was only 7, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was a child prodigy with the trumpet and C. C. Deville of Poison was trained in classical music at an early age.

Luckily, despite many school music programs not receiving the funding they deserve, programs like VH1’s “Save the Music” are helping to ensure music’s place in education and society. The Web site www. offers an interactive way to learn more about this program.

Another Web site devoted to saving the music is which, as a part of its program, specializes in preserving old vinyl records for future generations. This is a great concept.

I recently received my first record player and there is just something about listening to music via phonograph. The music may not be digital or as sharp as the quality that one can get form CDs or MP3s, but the soft hum and scratchiness of an old record makes the music seem a little more real. It is too bad that records aren’t mass produced anymore because I would love to hear “Ice, Ice Baby” being played on my record player.

So, it was about time that I focused on learning to play music & and the baby steps have begun.

I purchased my first guitar, but whether it is a Fender or Washburn or what-have-you really doesn’t matter to me because I am entering into a tradition that many famous people are a part of.

Jimi Hendrix did it, B.B. King does it and the guy who sits in front of me in my English class does it, too. He even complimented me on learning cool music like “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan.

Sure, I have been practicing the guitar for about two months now and the only songs that I can truly play are “Squeeze Box” by The Who and “A Horse With No Name” by America, but I am getting there.

Once I become a skilled craftsmen with the guitar & I am guessing in about another six months because that is how long it will take for my hair to grow out to a cool guitar-playing length & it will become really handy to be able to bust out a riff or two. Especially when I am sitting around a campfire; it should go rather nicely with my harmonica.

For now, my guitar playing will be a little less than stellar. After all, I am still learning, but I don’t think that guitars are supposed to be called “Moo Moos.”