Yes, I "Play" the Guitar

I have a makeshift "couch" in my room. It's really just two mattresses and some pillows in an organized stack, but I'm going to call it a couch because I sit on it. The only time it's not a "couch" is when it's a "bed" (quotation marks necessary). When my sister comes back from college for summer or winter vacation, my brother sleeps on the "bed", and she sleeps in his bed (No quotation marks necessary. It is actually a bed.). Which was hers originally. But now it's his. It's complicated, but the three of us had to share a room for the entirety of our summer vacation last year, and it was not very fun, unless it was one of those days that we stayed up very late and laughed at memes together. Otherwise, no, sharing a room with my siblings is not something that I would wish upon even my worst enemy.

My point is, the "bed" is no longer a "bed" but a "couch" simply because nobody sleeps on it. The only time it's really useful is when I play (note: "play") guitar. There's something about it that makes it the perfect height for sitting on with a guitar in my lap. Also, because the mattresses are hard, its the only place where I can sit comfortably and not sink halfway into the cushions. Soft cushions interfere with the art "art".

Technically, I learned how to play the guitar as part of a project in my sophomore year. We had to spend a few hours every week learning about any topic of our choice, then we had to write a few blog posts about our projects. Some of the other students chose to "study" cooking just so that they could use the makeshift kitchen in our classroom. We called it a kitchen, but if I remember correctly, it was a few desks arranged in a square with a garbage bag spread on the floor. There were very, very primitive sinks (empty storage bins with pitchers of water next to them) and appliances that one would probably see if a rich person decided to go camping. I never used them, but I think there was a portable stovetop and a waffle iron. Anyways, we had a "kitchen".

While the others messed around in the "kitchen", I sat in the corner and practiced strumming the guitar. In hindsight, that was probably very annoying to anyone who actually knew how to play guitar or just generally wanted some silence. I was pretty bad at it. I learned the basic chords and how to, like, hold a guitar, but that was really it. My finger placement was poor, I couldn't stay on rhythm, my strumming patterns were questionable at best. So, it makes sense that I gave up as soon as the project was over.

Fast forward to two years later, when I got bored after BlueStamp[1] ended, and I decided to brush the literal dust off of my guitar case. When I first started playing the guitar, I named the guitar "Allura". The name is a reference to a certain children's show that will remain unnamed because I'm embarrassed that I was so obsessed with it. I'm way less into the show now, so in my head, it's just "the guitar", but I'll probably name it something equally as cringy in the near future.

I started out by playing some of the basic songs that I learned the first time around: Riptide by Vance Joy and Can't Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley. Both of those songs are much easier to play when I sing along. Since I know how it's supposed to sound, staying on rhythm is much easier. The thing is, if you've ever been in the room while I played either of those songs, you would quickly understand why I was rejected from the advanced choir in seventh grade. If anything, I was probably a better singer back then, too.

Now, my taste in songs has changed to whatever I deem "fun". I still like playing Riptide, even though every other guitar player I've ever known says something along the lines of, "Riptide? Isn't that just the same three chords? LOL." Listen, the strumming pattern is fun and helps with my finger placement. The only other song that I like playing with chords[2] is "I Want It That Way" by The Backstreet Boys. Not only is it slightly less frowned-upon, it also helped me learn some new chords. There are three songs that I somewhat regularly play by tabs[3]: "Kimi Wo Nosete", the theme song of Studio Ghibli's "Castle In The Sky", "Fur Elise" by Beethoven", and "One Summer's Day" from Studio Ghibli's "Spirited Away". If you couldn't tell, I really like Studio Ghibli movies. Honestly, I'm very far from a classical music fan, but when I was in elementary school, every single kid who could play the piano played "Fur Elise" in the school talent show. I wanted to know how hard it was to learn, okay? Sue me.

So, in conclusion, the tips of my fingers have developed callouses and shredded skin as a result of my minor obsession with The Backstreet Boys. Since I've picked up the guitar again, I've probably played for at least a collective 48 hours. Probably. The funny thing is, though, I'm still not that much better than I was two years ago.

  1. An engineering summer program that I attended last summer. You can read more about my experience here, here, and here, or you can read about my project here. ↩︎

  2. Don't quote me on this, but a chord is like a pre-determined set of notes to play in one strum. They're used across more than one song. Ex: Riptide uses a repetition of the A,D, and G major chords. ↩︎

  3. Again, don't quote me on this, but playing the guitar using tabs basically means playing notes that are not pre-determined. It's kind of like reading the guitar-equivalent of sheet music. ↩︎