My passion for playing the guitar began when I was in boarding school. It was my first year of boarding school to be exact. I remember it like it was yesterday. During the lunch break, most of the students would hang out in the bedrooms of the different boarders. Nothing exciting usually happened during the break, aside from some casual conversation. On one faithful day, I heard a student called Jack play the guitar and it changed my life forever. All the other students leaned in and listened to Jack play as they made song requests. Jack could play songs from practically any genre – including rap.
After playing a few tunes, he would pass the guitar to his partner in crime, Gregory. Greg was a bit of a rebel. Well, I say a bit but he was so against the “system” that he dressed up as a goth to one of our Sunday services. He got scolded by our housemaster but he always had a clever argument to back up his decision. He believed in freedom of religion, which to him included Satanism. Anyways, he was also a great guitarist. He would play a few tunes, and although he wasn’t as good as Jack at playing, I would still be transfixed by the both of them.
After only a few months of witnessing this, I convinced my parents to get me a guitar. Once I started playing, I was hooked. I would play every day and never miss a guitar lesson. My teacher, John, was a friendly man but he also smelt of coffee in the mornings. As I was just 12 years old at the time, I did not appreciate that smell. My first lesson was exciting. John asked me what song I would like to learn to play. I named a few John Mayer and Jack Johnson songs. However, John decided to teach me something else. I was wondering, why did he ask me to name some songs I like if he is just going to teach me what he wants to anyway?
The first thing I learned from him was a riff. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘a riff is a short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, typically used as an introduction or refrain in a song’. It was very difficult to play just a few notes on the guitar when I first started. The ends of my fingers would hurt a lot after just a few minutes of playing. In fact, I would have slight indents on the tips of my fingers but that did not stop my determination. Not long after, he began to teach me the chords of some of my favorite songs. Even though I didn’t have a great voice, I would always practice in my room unashamedly. Playing my favorite songs was the best way for me to learn. If I heard a song that I really like, I would tell John to teach it to me then practice in my spare time. To this day, I play guitar to relieve stress.