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Senior Correspondent

A few years ago I started to teach myself guitar after realizing I missed making music. I've been surrounded by music my whole life but had stopped playing an instrument when I was seventeen. With college around the corner and my radio career already beginning I just put that part of my life away. Except for listening to music, my satisfying retirement was lacking something.

After several false starts and stops with the guitar I started taking lessons about nine months ago. Teaching myself would only take me so far. Then, I'd reach a plateau or get to a point where I couldn't figure something out on my own (like finger picking) and stop. So I found a teacher I liked and showed up weekly for his guidance.

Not unlike my personal attempts, after the first two months I started inventing excuses to miss a lesson. I found I was getting very nervous and tense the day or two before each session. I understood that was silly. After all, I was paying him so he wasn't about to yell at me. I did practice 30-45 minutes six days a week but I seemed to be picking up the techniques more slowly than I thought I should. We seemed to be going over the same problem areas week after week.

Finally, I decided to stop the weekly lessons and go back to playing for myself. The last thing the teacher told me was to stop worrying so much about exactness and where my thumb was on the guitar neck and just have fun playing music.

That helped. I had picked up enough in those three months to be able to move forward in my ability. I could play both melody and the most common chords without much of a problem. I enjoyed hearing the songs coming from my efforts.

But, then for reasons I really don't understand I began playing less and less: from daily, to every other day, to twice a week, to finally once a week. Anyone who plays an instrument knows playing just once a week isn't going to work. That isn't enough practice for muscle memory or even to remember the chord progressions.

The part I don't understand is that when I finally do pick up the guitar I like making music. I enjoy hearing recognizable tunes coming from the instrument. But, the motivation to put in the work just isn't there. I look for every excuse in the world to put off playing … but I like it when I do play.

That makes no sense to me. Something I enjoy I shy away from. Something I have invested time and energy in has become something to avoid in my mind. Yes, I have lots to keep me occupied. Sometimes I feel over-scheduled and look forward to the next RV trip because then I am away from the calendar. But, that still doesn't explain why I have this battle over the guitar.

Oh well, if this is my biggest problem, I guess my satisfying retirement is still playing the right notes.

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