I had the assurance that if I made progress and stuck at it (proving it wasn't just a fad) then they'd buy me a decent guitar. Looking back, the cheap guitar was an acoustic with steel strings - the string action was that far from the fingerboard that the steel strings were like a cheese cutter on my fingers! The neck was also warped.
Nevertheless, the odd sounds that I made thrilled me enough to persevere and then, at school, came my first inspiration that motivated me forever. His name was Anthony Burke who played in the school orchestra and he had a wonderful Suzuki Classical Guitar which sounded fantastic - at least the way he played it!
I took some lessons from the school teacher and endured weeks of musical theory and playing musical scales. This was the late 60's/early 70's so learning by music was the accepted method and tablature was not in much use. I learnt some valuable stuff from my teacher but was frustrated with the time and laboriousness of the whole learning process - I wanted to play something I liked and after weeks and weeks of lessons I could play some musical scales - not very impressive when anybody asked me to play for them to show how I was getting on!
I bought some books and learned to play some chords and was able to sing some songs and fondly remember some sing-alongs around the camp fires! At last I was making progress and my parents bought me a Suzuki Classical Guitar which I was to own and cherish for many years to come.
Now armed with a fair repertoire I wanted to explore acoustic and electric guitar in more depth so I purchased two other guitars from one of my first work salaries.
At this time I paired up with female friend who strummed guitar a little (but had a much better voice than me) and obtained a residency playing at a city centre restaurant in Birmingham. The music we played/sang was very much easy listening/ballads and folk stuff - the two classical nylon-strung guitars together was a very sweet sound - ideal as a romantic background in the ambience of the restaurant. We didn't get paid a lot but it was very enjoyable.
I'd managed by now to develop a decent right-hand technique to pick out melodies based on the chords - the ability to play the guitar as a solo instrument was a major step from just strumming chords and singing out the melody.
I started to teach informally and was keen to share and show others how the guitar can be played. Having built up a number of students/friends I was finding that my main paid work employment was demanding more and more of my time as I strived to carve out a career for myself.
Regretfully, there were too many years where my guitar took second place behind my career and I felt frustrated at so many hours being swallowed up by work commitments or just being so tired when I came home that I just didn't pick up my guitar.
I relocated from Birmingham to Somerset in 1998. Now, in my early forties, I started to re-kindle my efforts on the guitar and enjoyed teaching/sharing knowledge with other students.
Having tried most kinds of music I must confess now to being a classical/Spanish addict and have focused on trying to play the music from the Spanish Masters and great classical composers. Fernando Sor and Francisco Tarrega are my favourites - their music just brings the best out of the guitar. They're very challenging but what wonderful music they created for this instrument!
As I say to my students, "you never stop learning" and the challenges I'm enjoying sometimes seem as difficult to me as the basics do to beginners!
I completed my corporate career in 2004. I now put all my energies into the guitar and this is where I am today - playing, teaching, sharing - the wonderful sound of a truly great instrument!!
Thanks for visiting - Chriss