A less irradiating hobby

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (616 Words)

It’s my birthday next week, and as I get perilously closer to the half-way point of my fourth decade on this Earth, it occurred to me that I should perhaps look into broadening my spare time activities a little, to include more things that don’t involve bombarding my skull with a grid array of (admittedly rather attractive) photons. My wife was also needing some ideas for presents, which as everyone knows gets harder the older you get and the more ‘stuff’ you accumulate. We may be in a deeply consumer society, but beyond the consumables (and those are always good) and varied forms of entertainment, there’s only so much ‘stuff’ you actually need before you start tripping over it all the time. Although that might be somewhat related to the inertial organisation scheme.

Anyway, the upshot of such sustained chin-scratching was that I wanted to take up a musical instrument again. I say ‘again’, because in my (ever more distant) youth, music was actually a pretty significant element of my life. I played trumpet (and dabbled on keyboard a bit) and passed quite a few exams (grade 6 I think it was), both in practical and music theory. I can still read music pretty easily but I’ve forgotten most of the theory elements by now unfortunately. I remember enjoying it for quite a while, but I gave it up in the end for a bunch of reasons, mostly because of exam pressure from regular subjects and an overbearing, obsessive and possibly partially insane music teacher pushing way too much. I remember it getting to the stage that most of my evenings and weekends revolved around either practicing or getting to one band / orchestra / choir rehearsal / performance or otherwise and one day I just decided ‘enough’ and quit the lot. I remember the music teacher going ballistic - and also remember that element of it pleasing me a great deal, because it finally got the old battleaxe off my back. It’s fair to say she crushed the enjoyment of music out of me for a while.

Anyway, for several years I’ve thought about picking something up again, because even after all that I still enjoy music, but I never had time, especially not when Ogre started taking off. Now I have a little more spare time available, I figured it was the time to do it, so I’ve chosen to take up the acoustic guitar (the sharper readers might have figured that bit out on their own already). The cynical among you might conclude that I’ve gotten delusions of grandeur from almost beating ‘Hard’ mode on Guitar Hero 2, but in truth the choice of instrument was mostly about practicality - I wanted an easily portable instrument that didn’t need a power source, and was self-reliant. That ruled out the piano / keyboard which was my other preferred option, and I was pretty sure that the accordian would lead to my untimely death at some point at the hands of friends or neighbours. So acoustic guitar it is - and my wife was kind enough to buy me one for my birthday, a few days early.

So far, I suck and the flesh on my fretting fingers is far too weak (“you have a woman’s fingers, my Lord!”), buckling painfully under the stress of brass strings. But, I’m learning, I’m in this for the long haul, and it’s something a little different to do than fiddling with little boxes that go ‘ping’ (instead, it’s a little box that goes ‘twang’). They say that music feeds the soul - right now I think I’m probably choking mine but I’m sure it’ll improve with time 😀