My fingers picked out the strings slowly, for almost a week now, I had been stuck with learning the primary chords that Maxie had shown me on the guitar.
“This is hopeless” I muttered putting down the acoustic guitar that I had gotten at the music shop on Harper’s Street.
Just downstairs, I could hear my twelve-year-old brother Dave on the piano, and my parents were always exclaiming about how good Dave was on the piano, “A real prodigy!” Mum always cried whenever one visitor or the other heard Dave playing and commented on his skill on the instrument.
Well, to be quite factual, Dave was a good pianist, of that – there was absolutely no doubt, but he was starting to make things difficult for me.
“You’ve got no music talent, Charlie, you’re talentless” he gloated once to me, and I had gotten pissed off, I had almost ended up whacking his head that day, but Mum had intervened in our little backroom brawl.
“Quit being a bully Charlie and behave yourself” Mum scolded.
“But he called me talentless, just because he can play a few piano pieces doesn’t make him a Mozart” I protested.
But Mum would have none of it, “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like the big brother that you’re supposed to be Charlie, now apologize to one another.”
Well, I had no choice in the matter, I had to apologize to Dave who I was about three years older than, and I could see that wry smirk on his face; he had won me again today.
It was then that I decided that I would show him that I could be a musical genius too.
I stared down at the acoustic guitar and the book that Maxie had given to me, it was actually titled: BEGINNERS GUIDE TO GUITAR PLAYING (BOOK ONE), the book was basically comprehensive enough because I could understand each chapter well, it was all about basic music theory, and application: Understanding the lines and spaces on the staff, key signatures and time signatures, chord formations and how to build up basic triads.
But the only thing that was so hard about the book was getting to apply everything that I understood theoretically, it was all too hard; especially how to properly position my fingers on the fretboard, understanding which string was assigned to each note.
Dave was on the final movement of a Piano Sonata by Joseph Haydn that he had been practicing for days now, he had been invited to perform at our school’s homecoming party, he was presently running lots of scales and arpeggios, it was totally incredible how he could even manage those feats with his little fingers.
I sighed heavily, it sucked to be talentless, but I didn’t want to think of myself as being ‘talentless’ I knew that I could learn anything given the right motivation and determination.
I grabbed my acoustic guitar again and picked out the notes studying the finger chart and placements in the Guitar book which laid open in front of me, and I allowed my finger pick out the first C – E – G which happened to be my first chord on the key of C – Major.
Then I strummed it, and it sounded quite good, I picked out the second primary chord as instructed on the chart looking at my fingers to ensure that I didn’t muddle up the notes or mix up the positions, the second primary chord was F – A – C and as I struck it, it gave me a rather higher feeling.
I couldn’t even believe my luck, all I needed was a bit of calmness, careful thought and determination, I soon picked out the third primary chord which was G – B – D. According to the book I could easily follow a few songs using these chords.
I practiced playing, striking the chords in succession, I was very slow at first, but I soon garnered up speed slowly.
A few days later, I was already, in fact, playing along with the primary chords which I had now learned to play on a few major keys, it was really hard but it was worth the practice because while I played to one of Billie Holiday’s songs titled: Loop the Long I never knew that I was being watched by Dave.
“Do you have the sheet music for that song?” He asked looking at me curiously as I strummed the last chord of the song on my guitar.
“Nope” I replied, “who needs sheet music? It’s a very simple song.”
“Then how do you even know that you’re playing it right?” Dave furthered, I knew he was still astonished by the fact that he had seen me playing a musical instrument but he was also trying to unnerve me.
“Well, I’m just following the progression” I replied once more and switched the song which was playing on my iPod so he could hear me play to it.
I strummed and struck the chords following the song, and Dave just looked on at me quite shocked.
“So you see? You don’t need sheet music at all.” I explained, and he only nodded his head.
“Mind if I play alongside with you? Bring your guitar along, and I’m just stuck in a passage in that damned Piano Sonata, I need to take my mind off the performance because I’m getting nervous” Dave said looking up at me.
I couldn’t even believe my ears, I nodded my head in agreement and followed him downstairs, we jammed to the song and Dave who never really liked contemporary music found himself improvising so well to the song.
Mum and Dad found us that way and were more than pleased to give us a huge round of applause as we both took a bow.
The Homecoming party went down pretty well, and Dave performed like a real concert pianist while I jammed to a song with the school band bringing the party to a close.