Twang, pling. Pling twang.
Pling, twang. Pling, twang.
My daughter is learning to play the guitar.
I knew she was committed when she bought her own guitar less than a week ago.
Next she cut her beautiful fingernails. One by one.
Then she watched a YouTube tutorial and downloaded a guitar chords app.
Pling pling. Twang twang…
She sings softly, willing her fingers to follow her tune.
Pling, pling, twang twang, twung…. Shi….!
She senses my presence and doesn’t finish that word.
She utters a loud sigh instead, rolls her eyes, shakes her head.
I’ve joined her on our farmhouse verandah. The day is crisp, cool, but beautiful. (Can you see the blue sky and evergreen spruce trees reflected on the front of her guitar?)
Birds are singing, her father’s gardening and our daughter’s little dog Mr. J. stops and listens for a moment to the guitar playing, before running off to bark at yet another squirrel.
But Daughter is entirely focused on the guitar strings.
Head down, dark hair falling forward and almost covering her face, she returns to a wordless, intense concentration.
She keeps going, singing and strumming, no mistakes this time. Even the flowers in the garden bed nearby seem to be bopping along to the tune.
I applaud when she finishes.
In her twenties, she’s learning to play a new instrument.
How to hold it.
How to position her left hand, her right hand.
What to do when her fingertips get tender, even sore.
“Soak them in cider vinegar,” she says.
“Oh!” I’m surprised to learn there’s yet another use for cider vinegar. “The thing’s got as many lives as duct tape.”
“It really works!” she says, smiling. “It helps me to keep going till my fingertips toughen up. Smells awful, but it’s soothing.”
It was the same routine the day before.
Her father, who has his own guitar but hasn’t played it in almost a year, stuck his head out the door, saw her strumming and disappeared inside.
He came back a minute later with his guitar. Soon they were strumming together.
Pling pling, twang twang. Twang twang, pling pling.
Another stray twung (or maybe it was a plung) sneaked in and they started all over again.
Finally, they were playing in tune.
“We’ve got a jam-session happening right here on our verandah,” I thought.
One of life’s sweet moments.
Today, Daughter is practicing again, and — hooray, she plays the song perfectly, again!
She’s conquered the tune to this good, simple, 3-chord song for beginners.
And I listen and think, without saying:
How sweet the sound.