Guitar Zero: Should My Instructor and I See Other People?

If you've ever been in a relationship, you know how the cycle works. The first month or so is that period where you make exciting discoveries about each other, where every experience is new and - more often than not - rewarding. Then, unfortunately, the second month rolls around, and most of us decide that's when it's time to bail.

Chances are you've either given or been on the receiving end of the "I think it's time we saw other people" speech. And it can either be heart-rending or liberating, depending on where you're standing during the exchange.

My instructor Robert and I had a similar moment this week. On one hand, his recommendation that I start seeking out some tab and chord charts on my own in order to start applying what we've been working on in my lessons (and attempt to branch out beyond that Goddamned Beatles Song*).

To be fair, I've pretty much mastered the fingerings for that particular nightmare, except for the bridge, and I don't think my kids are too concerned about instrumental breaks in their nighttime listening. So apart from smoothing out my transitions, there's not much else to work on, and Robert's advice was sound.

But I'm constantly seeing the black lining to every cloud, and it was hard for me not to interpret his comments in a negative light, like he was not-so-subtly trying to tell me the sound of my playing a "Bmaj7" was setting his teeth on edge. Because that couldn't possibly be the case.

On an unrelated note, Robert also mentioned that he'd joined a gym last week. This has no real relevance to my journey of musical discovery, except to reinforce my angry stereotyping of guitar players as skinny bastards. Robert's not emaciated, but he's a slender guy, which fits in with my image of most lead axemen (your Leslie Wests and Jerry Garcias are exceptions to the rule).

Guys with my build are usually bass players. Or roadies.

On the bright side, I (belatedly) read that Texas Monthly interview with Ray Wylie Hubbard where he talks about not taking guitar lessons until he was 41. Granted, the guy had a little more free time (and those fat "Redneck Mother" royalty checks to tide him over), but if RWH is man enough to turn over a new leaf at that age, I figure all is not lost. Robert's opinions aside, of course.

* "Blackbird"

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar