Little has happened in my life lately. I am reminded of Mom, who would gauge her existence by how many capers and schemes she had going. If there was a plan to move the furniture, or dig up bulbs, or freak out her friends with a fake tattoo, then all was well. Unlike Mom, I have no capers or schemes in the offing.
Well, I do have one scheme: to learn to read music. I've had a musical breakthrough since Christmas. I've realized why I have no passion for the guitar. I'm playing the guitar because I can't carry a tune, and yet all I've tried to play is rock guitar, which has no tune. It's all accompaniment, and no melody, unless you sing the melody in your head, and it seems my head can't carry a tune either. When I realized that problem I switched from playing chords to playing solos: still, a solo isn't a song.
Recently, though, I found some arrangements for fingerstyle guitar, and that changed everything. Fingerstyle is like touch typing for the guitar. Instead of holding a pick and plucking a series of strings, you have assigned strings for each finger. You get yourself positioned on 'home row' and then you just pluck the string with the fingernail of the assigned finger. Not only is it considerably easier, but you can play the accompaniment with your thumb and the tune with your fingers at the same time. After only a few weeks I can now slap out "Fur Elise" and "Danny Boy" and a variety of hymns. In fact, I've moved past slapping them out and now I even try to add a little schmaltz.
Sadly, I realize I'm going to run out of these 100 fingerstyle arrangements that spell out what fret and finger I should use for each note. While there are countless rock arrangements for those who can't read music, it seems that if it isn't rock they don't give you any shortcuts. Since these folk song arrangements I've been playing are essentially eight notes, I'm sure I could translate eight notes on a staff to eight notes on the guitar. It's not the Enigma code.
Someone suggested I have Gary teach me to read music. I laughed, of course.
Gary's playing the trumpet again, now that his teeth have been through the Invisalign gauntlet. Straight teeth were the first step toward getting his embouchure back. (That's the first time I've ever seen that word spelled out. Never would have guessed at that spelling.)
He hasn't been bold enough to play his trumpet when I'm around so I can't be overtly supportive. However, since Gary realized it's his birthday month (this dawned on him on the 15th), he's been sending me emails at work thanking me for the musical gifts I've gotten him – or rather, alerting me that I've gotten him gifts.
"Dear Ellen, thank you for the Bach trumpet mouthpiece you just got me for my birthday. You're the best. Love, Gary."
A retired man, a birthday month, Amazon Prime, and a hobby: a potent combination.