Never Too Late To Learn (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

How a guitar lesson is also a lesson of another sort.


I thought he was kidding.....

A few years ago my good friend Jeff told me he was going to take guitar lessons.  I've known Jeff for almost 20 years.  He was a news cameraman at a different TV station in Colorado Springs when I was a reporter there.  That was in the early 1990's.

News reporters and photographers spend a lot of time together in cars.  Jeff and I both worked the night shift for several years, so we worked together almost every day over that time period.  Heading to and from stories in the car you have the radio on, or a CD playing (or maybe even a tape way back then). We heard a lot of music and talked about a lot of music.  We both liked a many of the same bands..though we didn't agree on everything.

From time to time back then, if friends were at my house Jeff might be there, and I would occasionally play the guitar a little bit.  I've been playing since I was about 14....30 years now.  I'm not great, but I'm decent.  I mentioned to Jeff back then that if he wanted, I'd try to show him a few things.  I could tell he was one of those people who was into music enough that he should be able to try and make some of his own.   At the time though, he had two very young daughters, and he was going back to school to change careers...understandably he simply didn't have the time to mess around with the guitar.   That's why I was stunned, and also pleased, when Jeff told me he was taking lessons...

You see Jeff is 50 years old.  He strapped on a guitar for the first time at age 47!  I think that's pretty impressive.

It's never too late to learn!

It's not that playing the guitar is too difficult for someone in their 40's or 50's..far from it.  It's just that learning any brand new skill, from scratch, is a challenge..and most of us in our 40's aren't all that inclined to give it a shot.  I applaud Jeff for deciding to try something new.

So if there's something you've been thinking about trying, something you've always wanted to do...DO IT!  There's no time like now...every day you wait it becomes less likely that you'll ever get around to whatever it is. 

Now once or twice a year, we get together at my house for "Guitar Night".  Jeff lives near Boulder, so it's a bit of a drive to get here and we've both got to plan around other obligations....otherwise we'd probably do it once or twice a month!

Three years ago, on our first "guitar night" Jeff was truly a beginner and he really couldn't do much of anything.  By the next year there was a huge improvement. I could tell that his teacher was taking him in a good direction, teaching him some music theory..not just showing him what works, but explaining why it works too.   Here's my vastly improved, guitar-playing friend Jeff, Saturday, at this year's "Guitar Night".

Here's me with my favorite "axe"  ..a Gibson hollow-body.

Last year Jeff was just getting to a point where he could improvise within a chord progression, and play stuff that sounded ok.  This time, his playing was much more advanced...still a long way to go, but much more comfortable.  My playing, on the other hand, has literally been at about the same level for 20 years!  That's kind of the way it is for some of us who try to master the 6-stringer.  We hit a plateau.  One world-famous rock star said in one interview that he could play everything he can play now, by the time he was about 16..and he spent the next 40 years just refining it and coming up with new variations.

I don't practice much...I can go weeks without touching a guitar.  I'm going to try to do better on that front.

My point is this...If Jeff keeps practicing and improving the way he has been, maybe on "guitar night" down the road a few years, he'll have passed me by, and he'll show me a few things!  I told him that this weekend on "guitar night".

He probably thinks I'm kidding.

We'll talk again soon

Don Ward

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