Our 10 year-old daughter saved her allowance for weeks last year so that she could buy herself a guitar. I fully supported her effort, and I pitched in by loaning her money when she was short.
She’s been taking lessons for a while now, maybe even for a year, yet she struggles to remember to practice at home. Which made me wonder if she actually likes playing guitar. If she liked it, wouldn’t she want to play? Wouldn’t she not need to remember because she’d be excited about playing?
When I probed in the car on the way to her lesson, “Are you enjoying your guitar? Do you like playing it?”, she ended up in tears. She sobbed that she feels like she’s not practicing enough, that she does want to play and doesn’t know why she isn’t remembering.
“Are you having fun? You probably won’t be motivated to play if it’s not fun. Are there things you’d like to learn that you’re not learning at lessons?”
She cried, feeling bad about whatever she was thinking. I squeezed her knee. “I just don’t really like some of the songs I’m learning,” she said. She doesn’t recognize a lot of them — she’d never heard them before her teacher taught her.
“That’s ok!” I said. “You can tell Greg what you want to learn and he’ll be happy to teach you, you know he will. What do you want to learn? Do you want to learn how to tune your guitar?”
She nodded and sniffed, “Yes.”
“Cool. Ask him, he’ll show you. He loves teaching you.” Taylor Swift sang in the background on the car radio. “What about any songs?” I waited for her favorite pop title of the day.
She wiped her eyes. “Free Falling,” she said.
I looked sideways at her as I drove. “The Tom Petty song?”
“Yes! I love the guitar in that song.”
We parked and she got her guitar out of the trunk. She was smiling now. “I want to learn how to tune my guitar, but I’d rather learn Free Falling.”
She and Greg went back into the lesson room, and I slumped into the guitar shop couch. I pulled out my phone to catch up some work and became absorbed in a discussion when I heard the opening riff from Free Falling drift out from the back of the shop. Then her laughter as Greg said goofy stuff to help her learn.
I stopped working to listen. She’s in the guitar shop lesson room right now, playing the opening to Free Falling.