A couple of years ago, I took a keen interest in playing the guitar. With the help of my brother and some friends, I started to learn, and picked it up fairly quickly, in part because my training in the violin many years ago. That summer, to my delight, I received a guitar for my birthday, an acoustic beauty in a dark, rich wood with a deep and full sound. I played with enthusiasm for the rest of the summer, but come fall, when I returned to Queen’s and school picked up again, my guitar was relegated to a dusty corner of my room, all but forgotten.
That’s right, I have decided to take guitar lessons. This has been a long time coming. For two years now I put off this time-consuming venture; I wanted to wait until school had slowed to a manageable pace, when I had some more time on my hands and a little bit more money in the bank. But a month ago, in the throes of panic over my first ever research presentation and with the weight of my thesis slowly pushing my chin into the floor, it dawned on me: that time will never come. I realized that I would never have the free time that I envisioned as being necessary to take up a new hobby. If I were to follow through on my desire to play, time be damned, I would just have to do it. After contacting a number of teachers (many of whom were less than impressed that I was not able to commit to a strict weekly schedule, no doubt because they are not familiar with the notoriously unpredictable nature of science), I finally found one that could accommodate me neatly, and I set up my first lesson for the end of February.
Needless to say, I was nervous. Acquiring a new skill is not easy and, despite having dabbled with the guitar previously, I knew that these lessons were different. Lessons would require structure, learning notes and to read music (again), and, of course, practicing. However, my nerves were unwarranted – E was kind and patient, a seasoned musician and composer with a knack for teaching. In our hour-long session, which flew by with astonishing speed, he helped me re-discover my musical ear, which had lain dormant for so long. I thoroughly enjoyed my lesson, and was unabashedly excited about practicing what we had learned later on at home. I felt invigorated, but also satisfied, knowing that I had finally taken the reins and started something that I had been for so long delaying. I am now two weeks into my lessons (a blip in musical time, but still!) and I love every moment of them. Taking lessons has given me the chance to re-explore music, in a fresh, exciting and positive way. But more than this, it has given me the change to work towards something tangible– perfecting a melody, learning a new song – and in the capricious world of research, a tangible goal is a rare and beautiful thing.