Play It Forward

IMG_5109 (1)

IMG_5109 (1)

I started asking my mother for a guitar and lessons when I was five or six years old and she always told me I had to wait until I was older. Years later, she explained that she wanted to make sure that I was serious because money was tight and she didn't want to spend money on a guitar and lessons if it was only a passing interest. When I was eight years old, she handed me a borrowed Yamaha guitar and told me that she found me a teacher. I never complained about going to lessons and I practiced without my mother telling me to and now that I'm a parent myself, I look back and realize how lucky she was was because she never had to nag me.

When Zeca turned six, she started asking for guitar lessons. We already had a small Taylor guitar that we had picked up at a silent auction at a steal but I understood better why my mother made me wait. Kids' interests change daily. So, we waited but a year later, she was still asking so we found her a teacher and she started taking lessons. She loves the guitar like I love the guitar but she is not the kid that I was. We have to remind her to practice and sometimes do have to nag, though she never complains about going to lessons. We are similar, yet different and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I played that borrowed Yamaha for four years and on my twelfth birthday, my mother surprised me with a beautiful, new Sigma guitar. It was so new the wood was nearly white and I still remember the smell of the finish and wood and steel strings. She was so excited to give it to me and I knew that she had had to work overtime to buy it, so, I couldn't tell her that I had decided that I wanted to quit. I graciously accepted the gift, continued taking lessons for several years,  and continued to play throughout college and beyond.

Last week, Luisa and I went to buy Zeca a new guitar as a gift from friends and family for her eleventh birthday. She had outgrown the baby Taylor and I wanted her to have a brand new guitar, one that would be hers alone. I sat in the guitar shop and played several before deciding on an Alvarez because I loved the feel of the neck and the deeper sound and maybe, on some level, it also reminded me of mine.

We brought it home and I put my guitar next to her new one and, for the first time, realized how much the wood on mine had aged. It has grown older with me and the wood itself seems to hold the weight of the years. It carries my songs and memories and stories just as I hope this new guitar will carry my daughter's.

I will never know if she came to the guitar on her own or the fact that I play pushed her towards it. I can only hope that she'll keep playing and find joy and solace in music as I always have. And if she does, I hope that someday she'll play it forward like I have.