Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Here's your sign

Several years ago, before the days of Reagan, I was in a band. I remember the first time they invited me to sing with them. I was terrified. The first song we did at practice was “Empty Me” by Jeremy Camp. The guitarist started playing and I eventually turned around and said, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” Ah yes. That was only the beginning of my adventures. The start of quite a journey. Eventually, I learned how to sing with a band. And for a few years that is precisely what I did. Sang anywhere and everywhere we could get a gig. We lead worship at our church and in other churches and at youth group events. It was incredibly fun, but also an incredible amount of time and work.

Those years, I carried a big white binder with me almost everywhere I went. It was a collection of music - mostly chord sheets (which means no actual musical score - just lyrics and guitarist language). It was my lifeline - every song we had ever done carefully collected, three-whole punched and organized...alphabetically. If we changed a song at the last minute, I never panicked - I had it right there. There was no forgetting of lyrics because they were always in front of me.

Around the time Reagan was born, the band sort of dissolved. We lost members to various Godly beckonings and there were only a few of us left. Which didn’t really stop us. We continue even now to lead worship whenever and wherever there is an opportunity. But admittedly, it has slowed down. And for my stage of life, that’s okay. We most often lead worship in our own congregation and I get a packet of music from the worship coordinator. My big white binder went on a shelf and I forgot about it.

Also before Reagan was born, I purchased an acoustic guitar. I spent what I considered a fair amount of money on it in hopes that would be motivation to not give up on learning how to play. I started to learn, but soon it became clear that this learning how to play the guitar experience was going to be a marathon and not a sprint. Ooooookay. When Reagan was born, the guitar sat in my basement, safely tucked in its case - hibernating.

So over a year ago, I approached one of my friends, Jeremy, about giving me some guitar lessons. As hard as I tried, it wasn’t going to just play itself when I touched it. He agreed and began giving me lessons. And homework. It was humbling. And oh it was rough. So very rough. I tried to show my Mom one day what I had learned so far and I am sure on the other side of her encouraging supportive smile she was thinking, “Oh my. This is going to take some time.” She was right. And over the next several months I realized I was going to have to check my over-achiever mindset at the door. This was going to take work. Lots and lots of work.

Jeremy, bless his heart, was so patient and never told me I was bad...but I know I was. He just kept giving me homework and forced me to realize that if I wanted to play guitar, I would have to learn how to play bar chords (which are still the bain of my existence).

And over the last several months, something odd has happened. Perhaps it was because he was just so tired of hearing stuff that sounded like noise that he was really desperately wanting to hear something that sounded like...well...music. Perhaps it was just that he didn’t want me to give up. Perhaps it was because he actually heard improvement. Whatever it was, my very patient Hubby started remarking that I actually sounded “good”. I nearly dropped my guitar the first time he said it. Reagan clapped for me - she rocks. I played again for my Mom and this time I could see that I had really improved. I started working harder.

For as long as I have been taking lessons, I have been playing the same 6 or 7 songs over and over and over. If Jeremy gave me a new song, it got added to the repertoire. But every time I practiced, it was only those songs which he said to work on. Nothing else.

Two weeks ago I did special music in church. Some of my friends saw my name in the bulletin and saw the guitar on the stage and were hoping to see me get up there and play and sing. I laughed, perhaps too loudly, when they told me they thought I was going to play. And truth be told, I never would have placed myself in the category of “instrumentalist” or “musician” or “guitarist”. I would have laughed myself right out of those labels.

Last night, I got out the white binder. I opened it up and looked for songs I could play. I think I played more than a dozen. No, they weren’t perfect. And someone out there PLEASE tell me there is a way to play a Bminor without resorting to a bar chord. Yuck. But it was really cool - except for the Bminor part.

After I played my heart out - and had to quit because my fingers were almost bloody - I stood in my kitchen with the dumbest grin on my face. I realized something. I think its now time to wear the label - to be able to say to people the words I have not dared to utter. Its time to tell you that I play the guitar.


Laura K. said...

yahoooooo!!! Way to go Jean! I'd love to hear it someday. Yeah, i "took lessons" once for guitar, but never practiced. And sadly, my guitar never played itself either. Snaps to you for putting the effort into it! i am jealous that you can call yourself a guitar player! : )

Tom said...

Isn't a Bminor just a B that hasn't turned 18 yet?