Dad, in his most valiant attempt, began with music. I remember during some of my earliest nights, he’d inflate with excitement and lean over the back of the sofa, telling me to wait and listen. His hands shuffled around CD cases I couldn’t see and then, minutes later, stadium-like, saxophone-strung music would blast from the speakers and Dad would straighten with a grin as Bruce Springsteen performed in our living room. (And yes, for you ravenous Bruce fans, I know he was New Jersey, but the northern spirit flares equally in both states).
The enthusiasm, relief, joy, and revelry this music brought to the house may have been greater appreciated in retrospect, or maybe mostly appreciated by me. As you see in my provided photo, Daddy and I are still the only ones in the family who carry musical prowess through the floorboards.
Summer is the season of concerts, and music abounds. But for me, music abounds all year. I listen to an average of three hours a day. I play the guitar, piano, and drums, with my skill level in each instrument about in the order I listed them.
But what do you do if the desire for music, and the creation of it, is overflowing, but the physical challenge is barring your way?
For me, my greatest hurdle is strength in my fingers and the size of my hands. Fingers are needed for difficult guitar chords. Size is needed to reach the keys that join together to make a harmonious chord on the piano. I’ve struggled ever since I picked up the tremendously small neck of my guitar and fell in love with it as if I were gazing at
But it never stopped me.
I do have a few tricks I’ll list with those who share my challenges.
For my guitarists:
The F chord, which is a bar chord for those of you who don’t know, meaning one must press down on the ENTIRE fret board to produce the chord, I’ve accepted, will forever be (near).
impossible for me. So what do you do when you see the song calls for the chord? Well, personally, I find you can usually get away with a couple strums of the G chord…but if you really have your heart set on attempting it, a dear friend of mine tipped me off to adjust my guitar to a D tuning, where you would only need two fingers to cross the whole fret board.
But now we’re getting technical.
Another fantastic tool I use that will sound elementary is the capo, which will hold down the fret board and change the key of the guitar.
For my pianists:
No, we can’t push the pedals. We can’t do crazy keyboard jumps with our hands. But we can focus on smoothness. Play what you can. And instead of worrying about how many keys you can press down, how fast you can leap up and down the upright, how fully you can perform the song, focus on rhythm. Focus on smoothly transitioning your fingers from one note to the next. Focus on the richness of what you CAN play and let it bloom past what you can’t.
For my drummers:
Just freakin’ rock out until your physical therapist has to roll you off the floor.
Because really, music is one of the best therapies there is, right behind love and basketfuls of puppies.
Enjoy the summer of music. Me? I’ve already been to one of my top two favorite bands, Imagine Dragons, twice, where the lead singer, Dan Reynolds, saw my from the stage, pointed at me, and melted into a grin as he sang (might have done a little melting myself). I’ve been to – don’t you dare judge me – the Jonas Brothers, from which my ears still ring after the inhumanly high- octave screams of preteen girls.
(Imagine Dragons ?)
But no matter where I am, what I listen to – from country, to Muse, to Tourandot – or if the music is created from myself in those moments of indescribable freedom, individualism, and being human, I let it surround me, throw the lyrics against the canvas of the world and try to make sense of it. Let it penetrate me, be my refuge, and carry me through another stanza of my life.
Don’t look down at your hands feeling like they will never be capable of this.
Look down knowing they were meant to.