Learning to play the guitar: lesson one

There’s a strange sound coming from my friend Oli’s house. A sort of flat, tinny noise. An off-key whine. A half-hearted vibration.


It’s me. Or rather, my attempt to play the guitar. My fingers are pressed so furiously against the strings that deep indents are forming on the tips, angry canyons that are proof of my efforts. This, is my first lesson. Despite the burning pain in my fingers, I am feeling proud.

In my new efforts to Be The Best I Can Be, I’ve decided it’s time to learn a new skill. I miss the feeling of discovering something new about myself and of reaping the rewards of A Bit of Hard Work. So my friend Oli is going to teach me how to play the guitar.

In Lesson One so far, we’ve eaten two pizzas and a garlic bread and have covered the following chords: A, E Minor and D. A is by far the easiest – a flat finger across the top three strings. E Minor takes me a while to get – (Oli’s top tip for recreating the perfect arch in my fingers is to ‘imagine I’m wanking off a tramp’ The relevance of the tramp is a mystery to me). D is proving trickier – I can’t master the flat finger next to the arched finger.

I am ridiculously surprised at how sore my left hand is. How can anyone do this long enough to improve? My little finger is proving to be a right bastard too; it’s too small to be effective and even pressing down with all my might, I almost never hit the string dead on centre, like I’m supposed to. Hence the tinny noise.

Still, an hour in and I’m definitely improving. My A chord is bang on 90% of the time, and I can switch between A and E Minor with relative ease. It’s a tease of what could be. And a reminder of days gone by, when anything was possible. Maybe it still is.


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