An Ode to Learning Music

She leaned against my bookshelf for twelve years enclosed in a black carrying case. Her strings grew brittle with time and her pieces began to crumble in disuse. She was silent.

My boyfriend and I discussed how we should spend our time while social distancing. A sheet of paper listing life goals I wanted to achieve hung on the wall above her. On that sheet among other options were written the simple words, “Learn how to play the guitar.”

After twelve years, I picked up my unused acoustic guitar and headed to Whittlesticks, the local music shop.

She needed some work. The nut at the top of the guitar had broken with the tension of the same strings pulling at it for too long. One of the lugs at the bottom fell apart while I tried to change the strings. She was old, but the man behind the counter assured me that she would be fine after some quick fixes.

A few hours later and equipped with a book titled, “Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method,” I sat on the edge of my bed. She hummed with anticipation, and I began to play.

My fingers immediately screamed at the stiffness of the new strings she was strung with. The sound rang clear though my hands ached. An hour passed, and while my boyfriend assured me that I was doing fine, I felt defeated. She deserved better than what I was capable of.

Days passed. I pulled her from her case every day, sitting on my bed or on the couch. After three days, I could play “Jingle Bells.” It was invigorating. 

She played so well despite my mistreatment of her. It was what she was meant for.

More days passed, and my hands hurt a little less. I could feel the pangs in my fingertips with each note I played, but those pains were accompanied by her eager sound and quickly forgotten about.

I was finally playing. She was finally outside of the bag and in the sunlight where she belonged.

As I sat on my bed playing a simplified version of “Love Me Tender,” I felt pride not only for myself but for my precious guitar. Though the world was turning topsy-turvy around me, music filled my little apartment and made things feel a little less unmanageable. 

Though times are tough, filling this time with learning a new hobby has made it bearable. Whether your goal is to master sewing, finish that video game you bought and never played or even to learn to play a new instrument, now is the perfect time to accomplish those goals.

I may not know what the future holds for me, but learning to play music has brought me hope. 


Story by: Nicole Heath