Pic of the day: Neptuns Pferde, by Walter Crane
How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
29 years ago today, on a warm autumn day in 1983, I went to high school. It was my first day of school for that particular year, 2 weeks later than everyone else because there was some kind of issue with my transferring from one high school to another. I had looked at the list of classes I could take the week prior as I recall. I had 2 possible elective classes I could take. The first was typing. I did not want to take typing, as I had taken it the year previous and was aggressively uninterested in it.
The second was guitar. I had never played one prior to that. I had played a very little bit of keyboards perhaps 6 years earlier, and still had the small sears electric keyboard and futzed with it on occasion. I had also played the penny whistle when I was 7 years old. For a few weeks, I remember being good at it, or more correctly stated I was told I was good by the parents who listened to me.
That didn’t make a difference in the decision for me. I didn’t want to type, hated writing back then, hated school to be honest. The place bored me. Maybe guitar would be different.
Was it ever.
On my first day, my teacher, Mr. Comachero took the time to make sure I was comfortable in class. He tried to get me up to speed with what the class had done. Initially I could not even get a note out of the small student guitar I was given in class. It had a small crack in the front of it as I recall, and an extra hole that looked like someone had put something the size of a quarter through the very bottom of the front of the guitar. After a few tries I managed to get some notes out of the thing, but nothing that could even vaguely be called music.
When the whole class played I tried to play as quietly as possible so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I was asked to play one thing that first class. I couldn’t obviously, but Mr. Comachero smiled and looked me in the eye. He said something about him knowing I couldn’t play it, but before the day was finished I would be able to. Something like that. I could tell he was doing everything he could. I don’t remember if I actually learned the piece that day, but I did get it. A few notes from the song “little brown jug” as I recall. The man did everything he could to get that song snippet in my head.
When he was focusing on other students, i took the time to look around the class. In the classroom, there were a few curious looking…notes around the top of the chalkboard. I had no idea what they were. I didn’t ask what they were. But as I looked at them I realized that there were 6 lines on each of the notes, and 6 strings on the guitar.
The people in the class were all cool. They were new to me, as was I to them. I thought it was amazing that people in class actually paid attention to each other and help each other learn. It was about the most positive experience I’d ever had in a classroom, and the teacher not only allowed it, he encouraged it. I didn’t know teachers could be good people like that.
At the end of the first days class, as I was leaving I did something I had never done with any other class. I thanked my teacher. And meant it.
29 years ago today, I began a musical journey that I am happily still on. I play almost every day, and every day I get better as a player. I would not still be on this journey if it weren’t for my first guitar teacher, Mr. Comachero. So thank you, sir. The gift you gave me is still giving, and I am eternally grateful.
That’s it from here, America. G’night