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Hobbies Continued...Guitar

Nathan Richards Student Life

My journey with the guitar really started about two years ago when I walked into a second-hand shop and bought an old semi-broken guitar for £20. Like a lot of people, I had tried to learn an instrument when I was younger. I remember waking up one Christmas and unwrapping the bright green acoustic guitar I had pointed out to my parents whilst out shopping one day. But as a child, I didn’t have the drive and that lovely green guitar only played a handful of notes before it was laid to rest, spending the remained of its days collecting dust in a cupboard. So honestly, I didn’t know how far I would get when I bought that broken guitar, maybe a few months, maybe a year. Ideally forever and I’d become next Willie Nelson, only not American. Whatever happened the possibility was definitely worth that £20. I was keen, not optimistic.

As with any aspiring artist, musician, or hobby enthusiast, my first lessons in the guitar came from that ever wonderful, ever infuriating, an all-encompassing library of YouTube tutorials. From there I learnt very little. A few chords, a song or two. A month had past and by this point, my guitar had been glued, drilled, and bolted back together. I bought a new guitar, a shiny red electric one so that I could unplug it and practice at night without waking my family. But practising without it being loud just didn’t do it for me, and having to get the mini amp out every time I wanted to practice was honestly, a bit of a faff. I don’t really play the red electric all that much anymore and honestly, it was probably not a wise purchase. Although it does look very nice hanging on my wall.

Eventually, I realised that learning a song on the guitar wasn’t really that hard, but that learning everything else, that was hard. Take music theory for example, two years later and I still don’t understand anything. I knew that if I really wanted to learn how to play this £20 guitar that I needed lessons. Now, obviously taking lessons isn’t for everyone, but I know all too well the gentle touch of procrastination. I find it much easier to learn something when I am not responsible for the “learning” part, and honestly, I was sick of watching YouTube.

The lessons have helped me a lot. I can now actually play the guitar, although I wouldn’t say that I was amazing, yet. More importantly, I now have a wide repertoire of tunes and songs which I can play pretty confidently, just not on a stage and even if I had the confidence, I don’t think I would. My ambitious dreams of becoming the next Willie Nelson have certainly diminished. I still want to improve, and maybe someday I will get up on stage to play “On the Road Again,” however I no longer see the guitar as some ephemeral gateway to success. A way of annoying friends and family at social gatherings? Absolutely. Impressing a romantic interest? Probably not. It’s definitely just a hobby now, a method of self-improvement, a way to relax and something to waste my money on. But along the way, it’s let me learn a lot about music, learn about new bands and musicians, given me new things to talk about with my friends, meet new people, and somehow it got me a job offer. All for just £20… plus £100 a month for the lessons, but I would still say it was worth it.

And if you do decide to make a trip down to your own second-hand store to buy yourself a £20 noise box so that you can learn to play, know that your fingers aren’t too big, strumming is difficult, and even after two years bar chords will still be difficult, but you’ll be able to play Wonder Wall.

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