Author: Campbell, Bruce

Music Blooms Anew in the Household

Some years ago, my wife took a guitar class in college. She learned some basic stuff, and did well. My heart soared with pride and my eyes welled up with tears when I heard her play with her class. Playing music has been so inextricably linked to my well-being and happiness for nearly all my life, and I was thrilled to see her join the party.

But for a myriad of reasons, she didnít stick with it (those reasons included going back to college and getting a Masterís degree, running a business and raising kids, lest anyone be tempted to chalk it up to laziness.) My sons both play, so maybe 3 guitar players in a family is enough, right?

But our kids have all moved out. The Masterís degree hangs proudly on the wall. Cassy began considering playing guitar again. I, of course was thrilled. Then my oldest son took my second best guitar home with him to replace one that had broken, so we were short a decent playable guitar. Then, last week, my wife bid on an acoustic guitar at a local charity auction and lo! We had enough guitars again!

I made an unfortunate discovery. My enthusiasm for Cassy taking guitar up again was actually a deterrent. Itís kind of like when you pick up a leash to offer to take your dog for a walk, and the dog gets so excited, you canít even put the leash on. I am trying to be SO helpful, SO encouraging that itís inhibiting her efforts. Imagine that!

My answer to every question is just so full of hyperbole that she canít process it. Example:

Cassy: So this is a G7?

Me: Yes! Hear how that sounds? Now, slide your finger up from the F to the G, and you have the G Major Ė hear the difference? You can use those 7th chords as a ďwarningĒ that the songís about to switch to the 4 chord! Isnít that cool!!!!!!

Cassy: So, youíre saying this IS the G7? Can you leave the room now?

You see, one of the best things about music is, every new thing you learn is a key to even more wonderful things, and I keep trying to reveal everything at once to Cassy, in my excitement. Iíve forgotten about when successfully forming a clear sounding chord was an achievement unto itself.

So, I am trying to find a middle ground, a respectful distance, where I can encourage Cassy, be available to answer any questions, offer tips (when asked, of course) and allow her to rediscover the joys of playing music. It breaks my heart that I have rein myself in like this, but if it finally results in us playing music together itíll be all right. When we sing together in the car, she naturally seeks a tenor part above mine Ė should be a winning act!

Posted:  4/11/2012

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email