Monthly Archives: August 2012

la gee-tar, or a biographical sketch of my life since the entrance of the guitar.

I’ve been playing guitar since I came home from my sophomore year of college to find one all set up and ready to go in my bedroom. As far as massive surprises go, it was a doozy. My sister had bought one the year before, and at the time I said “No way will I ever be remotely interested in playing the guitar, ever,” and as most occurrences of statements of “never will I ever”, the very opposite became a desire of mine my sophomore year. The first couple months were painful. I’d taken a string class at school and my fingers were better at the four-stringed instruments with one hand at a time. I was frustrated that I couldn’t sit down and play something.

Christmas came around and my sister bought guitar lessons for me. It was a genius gift. I learned a ton. I was encouraged a bunch, too–my teacher was a music major turned worship director for our campus ministry, and he waded through some of the hangups and worship leading hints.

The following summer I applied my new ability to switch chords in a song at camp. I think I played once during chapel, a handful of times at campfire, and a bunch on day camp. I grew a lot in singing while playing, which I felt was a really big hurdle in playing. I remember practicing playing a chord sequence (simple) while reading psalms out loud…striving for fluency in play and speech. I tried the same thing at the piano, but with less success (er, less practice).

Senior year I spent the semester on campus as part of the 24/7 Worship team. I played once on a Thursday and spent the rest of my time practicing the songs and learning bits and pieces about setting up. I played a lot more on my own (and with my sister), too. The spring semester at home I brought my guitar to a church I landed at for a short while (they had put a need for worship team folks in the bulletin and I thought, maybe this is my calling to this church)…the team was good, and I learned some more things about playing (not to mention songs), but my attention shifted to Cornerstone for the few weeks before student teaching abroad.

I did not bring my guitar to England, but was delighted that my host family had a couple guitars (a classical student model and an electric guitar). I got to play the classical one more often, as it found a home in my bedroom for the time I was there, but I remember dabbling in writing songs there.

The following summer I was a day camp leader and continued with guitar, a lot. My YMT year added some camp-playing experience as well as being part of the worship team at NorthBranch. It was there that I was first part of a band as the only acoustic guitar (at camp I was often a wing-man), and I had a gap in confidence for starting songs by myself (despite being a trained band director, I was a chicken to play such a new instrument alone in front of a crowd of people).

Another camp summer gave me another challenge–leading campfire. I had a wingman, but was responsible for leading vocals, actions, etc. It was a small stage, perhaps, but it signified a big confidence boost.

Until New Heights started in the spring, my guitar playing was very slim indeed for a time. My singing voice was often tired from a day of school and I didn’t have a lot of motivation to play and to sing at home. When our church started up, I began playing a lot more (by necessity), borrowing pluggy-inny guitars (acoustic electric, of course) from several people as I was scheduled. I decided (after thinking for a while) yesterday to buy an acoustic electric guitar…not as a replacement for my original (too much sentimental value for that), but as an instrument for plugging in. I am quite pleased with its sound, plugged in and not, and am looking forward to more playing (and perhaps growing, as the action allowed me to play bar chords at the store, something which I have avoided like the plague).

The guitar’s place in my life has allowed me to be musical instrumentally in a place that doesn’t lend itself well to ensembles for clarinetists. It has also grown my confidence in singing (though I think singing in front of kiddos at school has the most significant role in that) and sharpened my listening and music leading skills. Here’s to a number of years more of playing, singing, and enjoying la gee-tar.

My Takamine with new strings in 2009.

First Day #21

I calculated this morning that it was my 20th school year, but since I started one at our Year Round School in July, today actually marks my 21st “First Day” of School. It’s a milestone, indeed. I was shocked at the amount of exhaustion I felt when I hit lunchtime (and then after school), but I think it’s because the first day is all talking about rules, procedures, seating charts, etc. I planned a little music (sadly some duds compared to the incomparable Welcome, Welcome), but our shortened class time was really a tight squeeze for all the housekeeping.

Our class sizes are big. I won’t go into why they are big, but as sanctioned and above-board as it is, it’s a shame that our classes have 27-some students. Not all of them do, but the younger grades have 24ish. That’s a lot of little bodies to manage.

Tonight after school I took my knitting (a sock) and went to Starbucks for my birthday drink. The first time I left I got about 3 miles away from home before I remembered the postcard they sent was still on my dresser, but not being too pressed for time (a meeting at 6:30), I made the trip to retrieve it. I might not have done it if the card were not expiring this Thursday…but it is, so back I went. It was bliss to sit and knit and sip a very strong mocha. A very large, heavy on the espresso Mocha. I went on to the meeting where I wasn’t so tired as I had been at 4:00 and really enjoyed a dynamic group assembled for the purpose of coordinating the Perspectives course in Des Moines. I will post about that soon, I think.

Then it was home, by way of HyVee for lunch items and gas. I didn’t find fruit on sale, except unripened peaches, so I bought other things and spent SO MUCH on gas. I think I’ve avoided buying it for a while or something, so the price (and the amount I needed) was high. The discount I received (5 cents off) was helpful, but didn’t reflect much of a difference. It paid for almost 2 days of yogurt… 😦

I need to get to bed. I’m at 2 schools tomorrow and need to recover my voice.

Peace to you,
patty

pop pop pop

Today I ventured in cake pops for the first time. I cannot take any credit for the inspiration or the motivation to make in impressive fashion 300 cake pops, but I learned a lot about them in the process. Let me encourage you, readers, to savor any and all cake balls that you eat, as they likely took about 2 hours of work plus some resting time to assemble each one (between mixing, baking, crumbling, stirring, rolling, dipping, and all that). It’s not cookie dough that whips up in 20 minutes. It’s aged. A 2-bite (rather than 1 bite) indulgence :).

Also on the docket today was working in my classroom (the one I have a contract for, not the temporary one)…but I passed on that. I’ve got to do it tomorrow, as this week promises to be NUTS at school (planning for the next sub, wrapping up my own loose ends) and with science camp and a full weekend ahead. Tomorrow, in true Annie fashion. Tomorrow, I love you.

Tonight, tired tired. Time for bed. 🙂