Almost Eric

ancient musicMy love of music goes back as far as I can remember (and that, my friends, is a stretch of time). But as much as I love listening to music, I have never been proficient at making music. Oh, yes I’ve dabbled with guitars since high school and got to the point where I could play well enough to accompany myself singing popular songs. Singing wasn’t my strong suit either. Twenty or so years ago we bought a piano and the whole family started taking lessons. I lasted the longest and could play a dozen or so of my favorite songs before, inexplicably, I gave it up. Now, the piano sits quietly (and out of tune) in our living room. The same can be said for the three guitars I accumulated in my guitar dabbling days. On the shelf in my office is a native American flute that hasn’t uttered a note since the last time my grandkids were here and just had to try it.

I have a theory as to why I never stay with an instrument long enough consider myself a musician. I have, if I do say so myself, a great ear for music and appreciate the virtuosity of the artists I love.   Just as Antonio Solieri couldsolieri hear the genius in Mozart’s music, which only made him more painfully aware of his shortcomings as a composer, my love of the music I wanted to play made it difficult for me to listen to myself playing it. If that is the case, I can trace the roots of my automelophobia* back over 65 years to the time I told my parents I wanted to take guitar lessons. They took me to a music school in New Haven and the director told us that their experience was that starting everyone one out on a keyboard instrument (like accordianthe … gasp … accordion) allowed students to learn to read music before facing the intricacies of an instrument like a guitar.   What did we know?  And so I spent six months learning to play Jingle Bells and Jimmy-Crack-Corn and the Pennsylvania Polka … and of course, Lady of Spain.  When the time came to start guitar lessons, they had no guitar teachers and tried to sell us a very expensive accordion.  End of music lessons.  End of the possibility of Older Eyes being the next Eric Clapton.  Beginning of his automelophobia*.

reed claptonI bring this up because this week my grandson called me and asked if I would let him use one of my guitars because he is taking guitar at school.  Of course, I said, planning to ship him one, at least until I read about the risks (and the cost) of shipping a guitar.  I decided to go on Amazon and buy him one, a 3/4 size dreadnought acoustic.  Naturally he was thrilled.   Maybe he’ll be the next Eric Clapton, even if he doesn’t know who that is.

*Melophobia is the fear of music, so I figure the made up word, automelophobia should mean fear of one’s own music.

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