I am in my 2nd year of learning tenor guitar – in my mid 60’s. I heard Richard Durrant play “Skye Boat Song” on the tenor guitar about 1 ½ years ago. I was smitten. Something was rekindled down deep within me and I knew that even though late in life, I had to start playing music again on the guitar.
I traded my standard (now vintage) guitar that I played as a teen for a beautiful tenor guitar handmade by the local music store owner. (See my post “Breaking up With my Guitar”for the backstory.) With a neighbor, roughly the same age and in a similar situation we signed up for guitar lessons and attend alternate weeks in the same time slot. Finding we both had a love of traditional folk tunes, we got over our shyness and started playing and singing together. Now we have a repertoire of about 8 songs that we have memorized and informally have played with other folks.
We are still not too polished but looking back but hey, I know the chords and the notes on this instrument. I am learning music theory, am learning how to sing harmony and am performing with another person. It’s a musical adventure.
The most difficult part of being a beginner is getting over the myths of learning as an adult, some of them being- I’m not talented enough, I can’t remember anything, or it’s too late for me. I’m not “good”, (yet) but I am sooooo much better than when I started.
We just returned from attending Wintergrass, a huge 4-day music festival in Seattle that had the best of the best in this genre and beyond. It was inspiring to hear all these fabulous musicians and then amateurs (including children) jamming in the hallways. There will be no fame in the future for us but that’s not the point. It’s but there are fun and joy of the
process of playing music that is what truly is important. An added benefit is keeping those brain cells firing.
Ultimately you can begin anything at any age if you have enough commitment to PRACTICE. Show up every day and you will improve. having a buddy will help but is not necessary.
Don’t ever think it’s too late to begin and just know that the first step is the hardest.
There is a magic in the creative process. When I am totally in the “zone,“ it seems as though some divine force plants a seed of inspiration into my psyche & leads me on a journey to bring from the ethos something new & different into the world. Generally I need to be in a space where I am fully present- at least with my own thoughts. I don’t necessarily have to be in my studio. Often inspiration comes on a walk or doing something as innocuous as washing dishes or weeding the garden. At this point it is important for me to get the idea either in process immediately or at least written down, for inspiration can be as ephemeral as fairy dust in a breeze.
Sometimes I must plant a seed myself if nothing has been offered from above. I keep a list of concepts that fascinate me. For example, a few of my favorites are migration, germination, metamorphosis & salmon. I will make a list of every sub-concept I can think of that has to do with that topic, pick a few & then tie them together into a piece. The Illustrations that are shown in this post are from a triptych titled “The Spirit of Ghost Ranch.” In these mixed media pieces, my goal was to embody different aspects of Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in Northern New Mexico where I visit to take art classes & spiritually recharge most summers.
Then there are times I must “prime the pump” for ideas. One of my favorite hunting grounds is “Pinterest.” I can get inspiration from other artists & pin them to my own “board” for reference https://www.pinterest.com/wildntotions/. One of the beauties of the Pinterest algorithm is that it will suggests similar pins that may be of interest to you, leading you down a rabbit hole of endless possibilities. I can also prowl about blogs, and storefront galleries as well. My go to guide when I am in a rut is the book, “Steal Like an Artist,” By Austin Kleon. It’s maybe an hour read and so very encouraging
and inspirational. If you need a tow truck, this is your go to guide. I refer to it over and over again.
For the most part I work intuitively. I just start putting down a scrap of paper, a stencil, a swish of paint, sentence , or start to work a lump of clay as bait for my muse. Once I start down the creative path, I follow the breadcrumbs that she has left to tell me where to go next. I know that if I am tired or stressed it not the right time for creative work- just like you don’t plant tender seedlings in bad weather. Now it’s time to do something mindless & let my subconscious work in the background.
It’s all a mesmerizing journey of faith but it works- if you give yourself permission to let go & play.