Never Too Old | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Never Too Old

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You're never too old to learn something new, such as playing the guitar.

For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be some bad rock 'n' roll chick like Joan Jett shredding guitar licks or Bonnie Raitt with her amazing slide guitar playing. For years, I've tried to be a guitar player. I've bought books and taken the lessons. (Thanks, Steve Deaton, for putting up with me when you were my instructor.) Finally, I decided to focus on singing and asked (begged) others to accompany me on guitar or whatever instrument they could play.

It's been almost a year since my former musical partner, Clinton, moved to California, and I've been unsuccessful at finding another "one-man band" to back me up. I even own three guitars: a Yamaha acoustic that was once in a treehouse with a hornet's nest in the hole, a Peavey bass (I have no clue what I'm doing, but when I put that bass on, I love it), and an electric Squier.

But every time I tinker around with any of my axes, my self-doubt rears its ugly head, and I get frustrated easily. For the longest time, I didn't think I would ever learn how to play and soon just got depressingly acclimated to the idea that I'd never be in a band again.

At 35, I figured I was definitely too old to learn how to play an instrument, especially with my busy schedule. Then I found an article about a man named Gary Marcus, a well-known research psychologist and director of the New York University Center for Language and Music. At age 38, he picked up the guitar and learned how to play. He started by playing the video game Guitar Hero and learning songs from it. In his book "Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning" (Penguin Press, 2012, $25.95), Marcus tells about his past failed attempts at becoming a musician. He overcame his fear to find a guitar instructor, for example. He writes that the human mind, at any age, can learn something new. "Guitar Zero" has received rave reviews from the likes of Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of "Dr. Drew's Lifechangers," and national publications.

At age 42, Marcus has his own band in New York City called Rush Hour, and he is enjoying playing around the area. For more information on Marcus and his book, as well as his other books he's penned on human brain development, visit http://www.garymarcus.com.

Although Jackson has some wonderful instructors if you're interested in taking proper guitar lessons, if you're like me and broke like the 10 Commandments, try starting with a book. I recently purchased "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Guitar Exercises" (Alpha; Pap/Com edition, 2010, $21.95) by Hemme Luttjeboer. The book comes with an audio CD.

I've also pulled out and dusted off my "Hal Leonard Guitar Method" (Hal Leonard Corp., 1995, $10.99) book, which also comes with an audio CD. The Hal Leonard book was helpful when I took formal guitar lessons, so I'm excited that I haven't lost or misplaced it. Of course, you can visit any of our fine music stores in the Jackson metro area that have great selections of DIY books on learning any instrument. YouTube also has copious amounts of beginning guitar lesson videos to watch and learn from as well.

Now, I will advise that if you're going to learn any instrument on your own, it would be wise to seek out a knowledgeable instructor of whatever instrument you're learning so that he or she can steer you in the right direction or personally answer questions when you're not sure about something.

Finally, practice, practice and practice as much as you can. Your fingers are going to hurt—mine did, a lot—but it will definitely pay off (from what I've been told). It's kind of like exercise: You hate to do it, but once you do and start to see results, it inspires you to keep at it.

I hope you all have a great week, and continue sending me your listings at {encode="music@jacksonfreepress.com" title="music@jacksonfreepress.com"}. I appreciate all of you for your continued support of local music. If you see me out and about, please say hello!

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