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Learning Guitar: A Personal Narrative

Guitar | Photo by Roxanne Roessner | The Wright State Guardian

A few years back, my mother bought me a guitar from a garage sale and the musical being inside of me was so excited to have another outlet. I was ready to have the calloused fingertips and ability to string together chords, but the only problem is, it has been five years and I still have no idea how to play. 


This story starts as most do. I was excited to learn how to play the guitar when my mom brought it home for me. She even got a few books on how to teach yourself how to play. I downloaded a guitar learning app on my phone and even one for tuning the strings. 

The problem was, I have the attention span of a goldfish and my hands do not know how to work together. 

I have, for years, tried to teach myself how to play piano and even know the beginning of “Mad World” by Gary Jules, but the guitar does not quite click for me.  

I have brought these frustrations up to others in conversations and I am always bombarded with, “Go watch YouTube,” “It just takes practice,” and “It’s so easy, you just strum.” 

But what if, what if, I was never meant to learn how to play? 

Just keep practicing? 

I am not the type of person to just give up whenever the going gets tough, but what if there are simply certain people that are not able to play guitar? Am I among the one in a million people that, try as they may, cannot do it? 

I am eyeing my guitar right now. There is so much dust on it and the books have become a little sun-bleached by sitting by the window for so long. Maybe I should just do it. Maybe I should apply myself a little more. 

If I was meant to learn though, why did I not do it during quarantine? I keep asking myself these questions and give myself more excuses. I know I would like to learn, but there are so many different reasons why I have not yet. 

I do this with a lot of things in my life. I am sure that other college students think the same as I do. I push things off until the last minute. I forget to pursue things in my life because I use homework and my schedule to hide behind. I have forgotten what it is like to do something solely for pleasure.  

Learning how to play the guitar is a lot like learning how to slow down and take time for yourself. You have to work on it and nurture the skills you are developing.  

I may not know how to play guitar, but I know I can learn how to give myself that same breathing space. I urge you to do the same. Not everyone can learn the guitar, but everyone can learn to treat themselves with love and care.  

Roxanne Roessner

Wright Life and Laker Life Editor