I’m squirming my way through an A-minor pentatonic scale, my fingers stumbling through an awkward ballet. The tone conveyed through the pickups of my Fender Telecaster and out of my cheap Mustang amp, are unrecognizable as a song — and arguably, barely recognizable as music. I try to slide fumblingly from position 1 to position 2 and back again. The effect sounds vaguely like a song that forgot what it wanted to say for a moment, and then suddenly remembers again.
I try a brief vibrato on a long note that I’ve arbitrarily decided to hold, and then quickly think better of the attempt. Fingers on the move again, I am plucking at strings in the hopes that my left hand is caught up and actually holding down a note. My success rate for both hands working in concert is in the 90% range.
I play a series of five or six notes that sound, to my ear, something like music. In my sudden over confidence, I go for a bluesy-bend, aim for a full tone bend, go screaming past a full tone, recognize the mistake, overcompensate back down and finally settle on something largely discordant but at least in the ballpark. The note, should we choose to call it such, holds, fades, dies. In the background, I hear my boys playing a game on the Wii. I have the vague sense that they have turned their volume up. Unperturbed, I go back to noodling, a little quieter and a little more conscious of the noise I am making.
I try not to think about my perception that, despite a couple of years of half-hearted practice, I am not now nor likely will ever be particularly good at this instrument. Instead, I lean close to the instrument and let it drop poisonous lies into my ear, and lose myself.