I was nine years old when I fell in love with guitar. At the time, I was enrolled in Saturday morning piano lessons – mostly by my mom’s choice – and had just been promoted to Level 3. I enjoyed playing piano, but something about the guitar drew me in. You could make a wider variety of sounds with a guitar than a piano, I thought. So, I asked my mother if I could take guitar lessons.
She said no.
For the next two years, I asked again and again for guitar lessons. My family always said no for the following reasons:
- “But don’t you like playing piano?”
- “Guitar is for boys. You should learn to play violin instead.”
- “Black people don’t play guitar.”
- “Black people don’t listen to that music.”
By “that music,” they meant rock music.
To rock music, that is. I disregarded the idea that the guitar was only for certain people. After all, I’d seen Joan Jett and other female musicians playing guitar on TV so it couldn’t just be for boys! And what about Chuck Berry and B.B. King? They were black guitarists, so why couldn’t I be one, too?
In the meantime, I learned as much as I could about the guitar from library books and what I could access via dial-up internet. When I was eleven, my parents surprised me with a secondhand classical guitar. My dad’s co-worker gave it to him since his wife no longer played it. The guitar was pretty old and its strings were wound the wrong way, but I was so excited that I didn’t care. I was just grateful that I could finally learn to play. I began trying to teach myself, but I made more discordant noises than actual music, so that summer, my mom agreed to let me take lessons at a music day camp.
I’ve been playing ever since.
Challenging as it was at the time, I honestly would not be who I am today without these experiences. Fighting for guitar lessons taught me to persevere and not give up on my dreams. It’s a quality that shapes my interactions to this day.
Earlier this year, one of my professors tasked
our class with making a 1-2 minute video telling a personal story with a redemptive ending, so using The Sims 2, I combined my love of machinima and storytelling to create “Guitar Hero.” Unfortunately, with the time limit, I could only show a snippet of the story. Here, I’m telling the full story.
This was fun.