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Saturday, February 20, 2010

With a Guilt-Trip on My Knee

I'm ceasing banjo lessons.

I tell myself it's only temporary, and I really hope it is.

There's lots of hang-ups in this house about musical ability and musical potential and music instruments being dormant, with a thin or not-so-thin layer of dust on them in the basement. There's my wife's clarinet and her bassoon. There's the piano lessons we both took in our youth that are now very ancient memories.

There's the ukulele my mother-in-law gave me for Valentine's Day that I'll never learn how to play, because I've already started to learn the banjo, and all the chords are different, and I know I'll drive myself insane if I invest myself in two stringed instruments that are totally different from each other.

There's a lot of hang-ups and a lot of guilt, and it's wearing me down, frankly.

I feel like a little boy today, having to call up my teacher and muster up the courage to tell her that I can't come to lessons anymore right now because I didn't practice for two weeks, lessons cancelled because of a blizzard and a weekend trip to Pittsburgh. I practiced once during that two-week period, for maybe 20-25 minutes.

It's not enough.

It's not enough to justify going to my lesson, embarrassing myself, sweating through my button-down shirt, and wasting my teacher's time.

I love playing the banjo-- don't get me wrong. But I don't practice. Maybe it's because I'm working full-time and rehearsing for two different stage productions-- I don't know. Maybe it's because I'd rather be watching the Olympics. Maybe it's because I'd rather roughly strum my way through life, than delicately finger-pick.

Maybe it's the guilt and the history.

My wife's music teacher in college fired her, because she wouldn't practice-- and that's a hard pill to swallow for anyone, no matter how big your ego or your gullet. I don't want to have to go through that particular conversation, so I'm taking a break. My teacher will convince me to stay, and I'll convince myself she's convincing me to stay because she wants my money, which she most likely does-- unless she's a nun or something.

But there will be no convincing or negotiating today. And I'll be back. Because I love that silly shaped, long-necked, round-assed piece of wood and metal, leaning against the wall air conditioning unit.

I love it.


  1. oh my god. i feel the EXACT same way about my violin and how i never practice. yet i love it. so i feel guilty that i let it gather dust and that i suck now. booo. i'm glad i'm not the only one.. i thought most people get over it after high school.

  2. This is exactly what happened with me and guitar. Now it just sits in an expensive case in my closet. I know I won't start up again, but I feel too guilty to get rid of it. I keep thinking one day this gaping hole of free time will magically appear in my schedule and I'll become a virtuoso guitar player...Magic 8-ball says "outlook not so good."

  3. Don't give it up. It'll be so rewarding when you feel comfortable with it.

    no matter how bad you are... you'll always improve. Put it in a place where you see it all the time, that helps too. don't keep it in a case.

    Getting a guitar stand and leaving it in a SERIOUSLY accessable (irritatingly so, and almost tripping over it) type of place should help.

  4. It's there when you want to pick it back up. It'll stare you down until you come back. If it's meant to be, it will.


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