Friday, June 20, 2014

The Gift of Music

My father played guitar.  He had his own black and brown well worn six-string that he loved to strum and sing along with.  But, bowing to the demands of running his own business and raising a family in mid-twentieth century, the beloved instrument found itself stored in the beat up case that had housed it since he was a young man. 

I was in high school when folk music introduced itself to me, and I pulled Dad’s vintage guitar out his closet and started running my fingers down its out-of-tune strings. I had no idea how to make it sing, but felt somewhat fulfilled that I could rhythmically strum it.

In the mid-sixties, at the height of the folk music movement, I was a sophomore in college.  Housed on a dorm floor with like-minded friends, I delighted in hearing so many of them play the guitar and sing group harmony.  I was blown away. I had to learn to play.  It was then that a very dear friend bought me a baritone ukulele.  The beauty of this model of uke is that the four strings are tuned the same as the bottom four of a six-string guitar.  This made it much easier for me to learn the basic chords of most folk and early rock songs: G, Em, C, D7, and then move on more easily to a guitar.  From this family of chords in the key of G, I could join in just about any hootenanny or rock fest.  Add to that the fact that I sang, and still sing in the key of G, I was simpatico with my new wooden, finely constructed friend.  I reveled in finding some of the missing pieces of my personal puzzle: playing and singing music!

Late into many nights I pressed on the nylon strings and strummed, developing the necessary calluses on the tips of my fingers and memorizing the finger placement. By the time our little dorm group got together for the next songfest, I felt that I was right in the mix.

Playing guitar and singing have come to be stay-cations for my mind.  No matter where or when I pick up my guitar, I feel transported to a place of peace and joy.  I’m forever grateful to my dad for his gift of music.  It was yet another way for him to express his love.  And too, I am so thankful that I lived on Reynolds III with the most amazingly loving and giving women who shared what they knew and celebrated what each of us learned and contributed. 

Forty-five years later we gathered to celebrate, play and sing. We laughed. We harmonized.  We continued to teach each other about playing guitar and about what love truly means.

Life is good!

Top photo of Barb taken by Jeanie Berry (c)
Middle photo of Robbie and Barb taken by Sue Gavron (c)
Bottom picture of JH taken by Barb Adams (c)


  1. Simple days of a bygone era but complex in their own way. The harmony of friendship of the women on Reynolds 3 has lasted a lifetime through music.

  2. So beautifully stated, Gav. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! -B