Starting Again

author: Davyn date: 04/02/2014 category: junkyard

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Starting Again
An account of my experiences of learning to play different instruments.  


When I got to the sixth grade, I started taking band class, which I loved for about a year. You see, my brother, my dad, my dad's dad, and my my dad's dad's dad had all played the trombone, my dad becoming proficient enough to play it for the Navy. So, hitting the sixth grade, I had this idea in my head that I had to play trombone, though no one had ever told me too.

That first year was great as far as band class went, a strange sort of pride in carrying on the tradition holding me up throughout the year. But, after that year, my love of the instrument began to fade as that pride became replaced with boredom. A realisation hit me: I really hated the trombone. I mean, I HATED it. I tried to chalk it up to the fact that I had to spend time with people who were exceedingly less mature than myself for the first time, but I slowly came to face the fact that making my father happy wasn't something I intended on doing any longer.

Don't get me wrong, the trombone is a beautiful instrument, and I could play it well, but it wasn't really something that I could just sit around and play for no good reason. Part of that was the way that the class was structured, but that's a topic for a different day.


My education in percussion, specifically the drum kit, wasn't in anyway formal. And by not formal, I mean I picked the main portion of my rhythm from playing Rock Band on expert. Yeah, I know it's not as respectable a way of learning as being taught, or picking it up by feel, but somewhere between the mapped out notes and my love of hitting things, I learned the basic drum patterns, and how to roll to a decent extent.

My second year of trombone was also my first of stealing lessons from the percussion section, busy learning what was being taught to them rather then trying to learn the music in front of me. From here, I learned the formal drum patterns and I'd tap along while they went through the different pieces of music. My teacher would yell at me because she could here my tapping, claiming that I was messing up the drum section, even though they didn't get it either way.

Even though I didn't spend nearly as much time playing drums as I did trombone, something new had begun to happen: I enjoyed it. Every second in class tapping out epic solos that only I could hear was a second made bearable. Trombone had never afforded me this pleasure, and my picking up of different instruments was a final nail in its coffin.


On my thirteenth birthday, I got my first guitar. I hadn't ever really thought about getting one, but somehow my parents knew what I wanted when I didn't. That day my dad had shown me how to tune it and a few chords, then left me alone with a book. I finished the small book within the first week, then began working on learning songs via the internet. I spent nearly every moment at home playing it, learning all I could. I went on like this for maybe three months, then got fed up with it. I hit a plateau, had learned every popular chord, every scale on that thing, and the magic left.

I didn't touch it for another six months. Six months it sat in my room gathering dust, until one day I picked it back up and started just playing. I didn't really think about what I was playing, or what I should be playing, I just played. And it was the most fun I've ever had. Through near constant practice, I learned some of music theory, and figured out how each chord related to each scale.

I've taken a few school courses, but the only thing it really taught me was this: you will learn more from the internet. And so I pass on this advice to beginners: don't play anything you don't want to, and only play what you do. Don't let anyone tell you how much you should or shouldn't be playing. It isn't a formula, a recipe to follow; it's an emotion. Just do as you feel, and you'll go far.
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