A beginner again

I grew up very typical Asian-American. Which means, all those funny “signs that you were raised by Asian immigrant parents” – ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!

Okay, well not all of it, but certainly the mandatory piano lessons part. The lessons were fun, but the daily practice was excruciatingly painful.

I hated practicing so much that Mom made me set the kitchen timer so that I wouldn’t skimp on the time. Little did she know that when she wasn’t looking, I’d tiptoe over to the kitchen and nudge the red timer hand closer to zero.

“Do I HAVE TO practice?”


“But why? I don’t like piano anymore”

“Because it’s good for you. And because the piano was very expensive. So you must practice.”


“Don’t talk back to me!”

<grumble grumble> stupid piano.



The choice of music that I had to play was limited. My piano teacher insisted on the classics, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart…zzzzz….boring. I wanted to learn the Through the Eyes of Love from Ice Castles!

But nope. Mrs. Chamberlain was stuck on Moonlight Sonota, Fur Elise and Hungarian Dance No. 5. The most upbeat and fun we ever got was learning The Entertainer by Joplin.

I can’t remember exactly when I quit piano lessons (probably 13 years old?) I was never any good and so when I was released from the “piano hell” I never again touched a piano until last year when I urged Andrew and Nathan to take up an instrument.

Scott and I took the boys to a music shop – I had visions of us being the Von Trapps – Nathan on keyboard, Andrew on drums. Scott and I each got our own guitars.

We invested in equipment and weekly lessons for the boys. Scott and I went online to for free guitar lessons.

What goes around, comes around. The grumbling that I once gave my Mom, I got back in double.

“Boys, you need to practice more.”

“But why, Mom?”

“Because it’s good for you.”

Instead of setting a kitchen timer, I used my iPhone.

Oooooh, they hated practicing a half-hour every day! After 3 months of this, we dropped the lessons. I’m not paying for lessons if they didn’t want to practice!

So much for that dream.

And sorry, Mom, for giving you so much grief when I was little. Now I know 🙂

The drums have been sold, the keyboard is still here in the house but untouched since the lesson from last year. Our guitars went in their cases and stored under the bed.

Yesterday, I took out my guitar. I was going to sell it to a friend of mine. But once I took it out, I just couldn’t part with it. The Luna Henna Guitar is so gorgeous. So pretty. So rich sounding. Just picking it up inspired me to want to learn again.


I’ve got a couple of beginner guitar lesson books. Here we go…..this time I’ll practice everyday (I promise, Mom!)

BUT no Mozart.

My goal – is to finally learn how to play Through the Eyes of Love.




PS. There are times I really wished I kept up with my piano! I can still read music, but I wish I could just sit down and play! Especially during Christmastime.


PPPS. This guy is awesome! I’m watching his beginner series right now.




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Comments 21

  1. Wendy

    Good luck! I’ve always wanted to learn piano AND guitar. I can pick out melodies on either, but I don’t actually play – band instruments, though? The only one I DON’T play is trombone!

  2. Kuky

    I’ve tried learning guitar before. I’ve started and stopped several times. I tried books and justinguitar. I keep thinking about restarting again. Seeing this post, I think I’ll give it another try.

      1. Kuky

        Ha ha! Yeah like an exercise buddy to keep you on track. Did you practice today? Yep. How about you? Yep. Good job! Keep it up. ;p

  3. Jeani

    Try the Elixir Strings with POLYWEB Coating. They’re softer than regular strings and hurt less. I just started learning too on a Luna travel size guitar so I’m in the same boat 🙂

  4. Aissa

    I tried learning how to play a guitar, I hated it. However, out of all the instruments that I played, the piano was my favorite! It’s been years since I played and I miss it! I hope you have fun with the guitar 🙂

  5. Elaine

    We must have had the same piano book. Except I begrudgingly made it to the Ice Castles song before I was allowed to quit. I’m remember the horrible kitchen timer that sat on the piano that I secretly moved the dial on.
    Fast forward to now and my son is taking guitar lessons (in Tampa – hey neighbor!). The first songs he learned were “Smoke on the Water”, “Blister in the Sun”, and “Thunderstruck”. Not fair! I’d still be playing if I could have picked songs like that.

  6. Lynne

    Jaden, the piano lesson experience of your youth was EXACTLY like mine – in fact, I thought you could have called and talked with my mom and then written this. My parents bought me a VERY nice Yamaha piano and started me on lessons when I was 6 (2nd grade). I too, hated the songs I had to practice (Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata were recital pieces I can still remember to this day) but LOVED when my piano teacher would reward me with a popular piece. The Entertainer was definitely a favorite, and loved the collections of pop songs she’d occasionally surprise me with. I also learned how to move the kitchen timer ahead!!
    In later years I took guitar lessons yet have not done much with the piano. I’m glad I took lessons and who knows…I may sit down and give Fur Elise a shot. Learning to play the banjo is on my bucket list now! 🙂

  7. Gam Kau

    Ha, same experience. I quit piano when I was about 13 as well. A bit of it is still in there, but not a lot. My kids played keyboard and drums respectively and each stopped because they didn’t want to practice. And now, as an adult, I’ve taken up the acoustic guitar. I’m trying to learn on my own – just for fun! 🙂

  8. Mel

    Good for you!!’ My dad tried to teach me guitar was i was little girl, but i stopped & I came to regret that as an adult.
    I also recenlty picked it up again & although i don’t read music, I know about 10 chords & have been learning songs & playing with friends. I love it.
    Don’t worry, once you get your callouses, your fingers wont hurt any more;)
    Keep it up!

  9. Monica

    Growing up Asian American, my piano history is identical to yours. Because of my dreaded piano experience, I vowed to not push an instrument on my two children. Since I have college-aged children now, I can give you a peek into the future. Although both children appreciate music, the older one pursues music through ballroom dance (he competes on the NYU team) while the younger one chooses to continue her love of music through both voice and instruments. As for me, I, too, returned to practicing an instrument when my children became interested and gladly practice on the piano, guitar, and ukulele WITHOUT A TIMER! Ha ha ha. If you’re serious about getting better on your instrument, it’s important (and I hate to say this) to have a recital or backyard BBQ gig to work for. Practicing will have more meaning. In regards to your fingers hurting from the guitar, consider buying Elixir Strings Acoustic Guitar Strings, 6 String, Light Polyweb Coating from Amazon $12.66. As a beginner, your fingers hurt no matter what, but lighter strings will help you out. From what I’ve read, if you order from YOUR website, Amazon gets a small percentage!

  10. Arden - Real-Food-Real-Life.com

    Yeah, I think almost all of us who quit piano lessons regret it. And to make it worse, my mom was actually a piano *teacher* so I muddled through about 6 years of lessons, but still can barely read music or play. Now my mom’s gone and I have her grand piano, and periodically buy easy music with plans to sit down and start practicing again. Hey, maybe I’ll do it this time! 😉

  11. Shirleylaw

    I played violin from 3rd grade (8) until 6th grade (11) through lessons at school. Mom & Dad only had to pay for the rental of the violin and not sure what that was. I would take it to school for my lesson, bring it home, put it under the bed and leave it there until I went back to school for my next lesson. In 6th grade, as every year, we had a recital at the end of the year and that year we got to pick what we played so I picked the last song in the book (hardest) to play. Mom attended the recital and thanked the teacher for putting up with me since I never practiced at home–the teacher was shocked. She scolded me that if I played as well as I did without practicing, how much better I would play if I practiced. I told her why would I practice if I can play what I want? Although I did not take any more classes, I think I could play again if I wanted to but that was many years ago.

  12. Laura Harmon

    I teach guitar and I would suggest practicing as much or little as your fingers can take. The key thing is not just learning your chords, but to be able to switch from one to the other (transitioning). There are lots of videos on youtube that instruct, as well as ultimate-guitar.com, showing chords and lyrics. Take your time, slow is better until you get things right, then you can speed up to normal speed of a song. Never be hard on yourself. You are not in competition with anyone. Good luck to you and if I can be of help, write me. Laura

  13. Kuky

    I can’t believe it! It’s been almost a year since I commented on this post.

    I never did pick up my guitar…well actually, I tried about 10 weeks back, give or take. I went to tune it and couldn’t find my tuner. So, I downloaded an app and tried to get it into tune but the string snapped! I was in such a mood to try to learn something again, I grabbed my ukulele. And I’ve fallen in love with it. I have picked up my ukulele everyday, EVERYDAY! Some nights I’d go to bed thinking about playing. I can’t believe it. I’m so enamored with it, I’m upgrading and getting a fancy schmancy one. 😀

    How has the past year with your guitar gone?

    1. Post

      Hi Kuky!
      Ah, my fingers gave up! I have tendonitis (from years of typing and knitting too much) and playing the guitar aggravates my hands! I love that you’re playing the ukulele! I bet I’d like that too – better for my hands than a guitar.

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