A few weeks ago, I bought a guitar. I’ve been wanting to learn how to play guitar for ages now, and since we’ve been locked down, it seemed like a good time to give it an honest try. I say “honest” try because back in the mid 90s, when I lived in Armenia, I bought a used guitar for $30 and tried to learn how to play it. But I only managed a few chords, and then one of the gears on the headstock broke. I was never able to get it repaired, so that little learning project went by the wayside until now.
At this point, I’m just using Fender Play for instruction, although I hope at some point to hire a real time teacher. I’ve made some progress. Changing chords is a bit challenging at this point, but I’m able to eke out songs very slowly and somewhat accurately. I have developed calluses on my left hand, too.
To enhance my study, I joined the Fender Play Community Facebook group. At this writing, the Fender Play Community has 48,879 members in it. In order to join the group, I had to agree to some rules. One of the main ones was not to use profanity, which is sometimes a challenge for me. The rest are pictured here…
For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the group. People have been very nice and it’s reassuring to see that other new players are having as much trouble making clean C chords as I am. I’m on the “Folk” path, but since I paid for a year of instruction, I’ll probably continue to other paths once I’m finished with Folk. I just started level 3 today, although my playing is still probably more akin to level 1 or early level 2. People post videos of themselves playing. Sometimes it’s very inspirational.
I’ve also really enjoyed the virtual instructors, who really seem to know their stuff. I even have kind of a crush on a couple of the teachers. Fortunately for them, I’m old, happily married, and living thousands of miles away. But I will admit, I like a couple of the teachers more than others. And one teacher, in particular, is very inspiring. His name is Jen Trani. Jen, short for Jensen, is transgendered and recently underwent a double mastectomy as he transfers from female to male. He’s very talented and encouraging and often does live “office hours” to show off technique. I found a couple of cool YouTube videos about his journey and will add them to the end of this post for those who are interested.
But then today, someone decided to post this…
I have to admit, I’m kind of on the side of those who don’t necessarily want to see a post like this in a group about playing guitar. And fortunately, just after I took these screenshots, the post was removed. It had been up for about an hour. As you can see, a lot of folks were not happy to see it and some people are starting to become kind of ugly.
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve felt really saturated by social media posts about certain topics. We’ve all been hit with post after post about the pandemic, for instance, and the importance of social distancing and wearing masks. I’ve already bitched about that more than a few times. Now, the emphasis is on the terrible issue of racism and police brutality. There have been riots and protests, and lots of people are making their voices heard both literally and on the Internet. I’m all for that. But– there is a time and a place for everything. A group that is devoted to learning guitar is not the place for posts about current events.
I’ve actually enjoyed the Fender Play group because the posts are mostly about learning to play guitar. That’s something fun, challenging, and exciting. It’s positive, and everyone in that group is looking to become better at playing guitar. That is one thing that everyone has in common, and it’s something in which everyone can share solidarity. However, as you can see by the comments above, not everyone is in agreement about the protests. Comments quickly become disparaging, and the mood of the group gets very contentious.
Aside from that, posts about the protests are literally everywhere on Facebook right now, except in groups that are about specific topics. For instance, I run a group about wine and food and we have not been discussing current events in that group, unless it has something to do with food or wine. Makes for a much more peaceful and fun environment, and everyone needs that sometimes. We all need a place where we can escape stress and forget about our problems or issues that affect us.
I’m not sure if a moderator removed the post or the original poster did, but it was gone immediately after I took screen shots. It was starting to heat up, though. I didn’t get all of the posts within it, but people were getting pissed off. It wasn’t the first political post I’d seen in there, either. I guess it just goes to show you the politics are everywhere right now. Everyone wants to talk about the protests and Trump’s ridiculous antics. But some places really should be sacred, otherwise people become jaded and bitter. We all need a rest sometimes.
Anyway… about Jen Trani. He came out as transgendered in 2018. Here are a couple of videos about his transition to becoming a man, and here’s a link to his official Web site. The first time I saw Jen, I was sure he was a “she”. In the videos on Fender, Jen appears to be a woman. Then, when I saw him playing guitar in a live office hours post, it was obvious Jen was transgendered. But I wasn’t sure if Jen was transitioning to female or male. Then I saw the mastectomy scars in a photo and found these videos about the transformation. They’re very interesting, so if this is a topic that intrigues you, I would recommend watching them.
I’ve been enjoying learning how to play guitar, even if I still suck at it. Singing is a lot easier for me than playing instruments is. But I have always regretted not sticking with piano and I’ve been wanting to play guitar for a long time. I’ve even got Bill interested. He’s thinking about picking up a guitar, too. If he does, maybe I’ll learn bass or something.