Jul 2008 07

I can play the radio...

Hobbies, Randomstrings

... and that's about it. When I was in middle and high school I was in band and played everything from the trombone to the baritone and tuba but my musical aspirations sorta died there. So it's not that I don't have skill, or that I can't learn -- I just haven't. I know many folks that are completely tone deaf, I'm not one of those. I just haven't had the time/inclination to invest into learning a musical instrument.

My lack of musical skills came gallingly apparent one year at Halloween when everyone in the company showed up playing some instrument or another -- and I had nothing of the sort. One of the co-workers asked with complete honesty and earnest, "What instrument do you play?" as if it were a foregone conclusion that I had to play something..

My response was, "I can play the radio.." Which got a chuckle from everyone who heard it, but it left me a little hollow inside. I really do want to learn something I just am not sure what. Or rather, I wasn't.

Firstly, why did the aspirations die? Well band in middle school was something we did to get the required credit and to avoid any sort of P.E. ~ I'm lazy and playing an instrument sounded a lot more fun that running laps around a track. And while it filled that need nicely, it really did nothing to foster musical desires or competency on my part and I largely didn't enjoy it..

I think the primary reason for my lack of enthusiasm was that I wanted to play the saxophone, but was assigned the trombone. Back then the players had virtually NO choice.. Had I showed up with a sax of my own and could form the correct embouchure I'm sure I would have been a shoe in, but since we didn't own a sax and I had no clue what an embouchure was; I wasn't even remotely in the running for the job. I was handed a trombone and told to go sit down -- I made do. But I didn't like it.

I enjoyed the baritone more, but didn't get to play it for long before they decided they needed me carrying the sousaphone around. That effectively ended my band career in my mind. I quit the band and spent the next 4 years swimming on the swim team.. Hey at least I wasn't running laps ~ just swimming them. Low impact I tell ya! (trying to put a positive spin on it)

So whats changed? Well.. Nothing. I still don't play anything and really would like to. It's something that I want to get into as a hobby. Just something I can piddle around with.

Part of the issue is my other major hobby is software engineering -- programming. I very much enjoy programming and it's something I do often, but it's also what I do for a living. And nothing will rob you of a hobby more than being forced to do it.

So I need a new hobby. My usual waste of time comes in the form of playing games, but that's still massive amounts of time with 'ass in chair' really not expanding my horizons.. Playing games is fine and all but it doesn't broaden the mind much. Entertaining, sure.. Growth educing, not so much..

So this has made me want to look at musical instruments again. I have always had a fondness for music and really would like to learn to make my own. When I listen to music I often imagine myself playing the instruments and what that must feel like..

I thought for a long time that I'd like to learn to play the piano, and even got one. I have a very nice Yamaha S90 piano that I really have never learned to use.

It's an excellent piano with all manner of very nice bells and whistles, but for what ever reason it didn't inspire me like I thought it would.

I tried, and had a friend start to teach me but it just didn't do anything for me. It was a bit daunting of course because of all the various buttons, dials and widgets but so long as you just focused on the piano keys themselves it was fine. It played nicely as far as I could tell but I really didn't get much out of it. I certainly didn't do it any justice and at this point its a shame the machine isn't being better used. I don't feel it was too hard for me, it just didn't inspire me.

I still very much like the idea of learning to play the piano but it still doesn't grip me like I thought it would. I think each person to their instrument and this one simply isn't mine.

For a long time I wanted to learn to play the guitar and that still entertains me to some degree but no more so than the piano. I know several folks who play the guitar and even dated a woman many years ago who was into it.. Classical acoustic guitar sounded very warm and soulful and I think would be a lot of fun to play. I may still get one at some point, but it doesn't really drag me away from my other hobbies right now.

I was digging around on the internet when I stumbled across the Chapman Stick being played by Rob Martino in his song "One Cloud" on You Tube.. Nice job Rob. Well done my friend.

This instrument has been around since the mid 70's but is completely new to me. I never new it existed until recently (a couple months ago now). When I saw Rob playing it though I immediately recognized it as a "Baliset" which I thought was a completely fictional instrument played by Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stuart) in David Lynch's move Dune.

This was a favorite movie of mine when I was a younger man and so I had seen the Baliset scene many times. So, I was stunned to find that the Baliset was a real instrument, sorta.

I've been looking into this for a couple months now and the chapman stick really kind of speaks to me. One thing I like about it is that, from everything I have read it is the perfect amalgamation of keyboard and guitar -- in one.

I am going to keep looking into it, but I think I'd like to learn to play one. So far from what I have seen they are brutally expensive.. but I have a nice keyboard I can sell in order to get one, or atleast part way to one.

I have read a couple folks say that learning the guitar first is good, while others say because of the "free hands" tap method used to play it learning the guitar first is actually a hindrance.. I don't know of course.. and comments are welcome..

I'm going to keep looking into it though.. I have nothing but time so this is no rush.. but I think I'd like to learn the stick. Getting setup with one might be the hard part.. but eventually..

If not the stick then something else.. I know that most of this is likely a pipedream, but I want to learn something.. I need to unplug a tad from all my gaming and programming ~ this seems a good direction..