Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Passing on the Passion

I still remember the varnished wood smell of my first guitar.  My mother had encouraged me to play, she paid for lessons every week for almost a year so I could learn notes. I think she wanted me to be able to play like some Flamingo with fingers dancing along the frets. Frankly, I was satisfied with my self taught chords and basic strumming patterns.   My mother loved my music.  It wasn't always good, but she never let on.

Each Sunday for more than ten years, I played guitar during mass.  Between Sundays, the small group of musicians would practice.  That was a good thing.  It hadn't always been that way.  My friend and I had not been playing long.  We both arrived with untuned guitars.  Neither of us had developed an ear yet.  We fiddled with the keys tuning up and down in an attempt to make a pleasing sound. It never happened.  The mass began and we only hoped that our vocals masked our inexperience.  

The next week, Mr. Lavasseur became my mentor and the director of the group.  I am not sure why I did not quit after suffering humiliation (I know bad when I hear it), but I suspect that Mr. Lavasseur had a lot to do with it.  He was a big, big man with a gentle way.  Mr. Lavasseur patiently helped me overcome my obsession to start every song over from the top when I made a mistake.  Every song he sang sounded like it belonged in Nashville.  I loved this man, so I tolerated his country music.  We were a team for a decade or more. Until I moved away and started a family.

I think I made Mr. Lavasseur  and my mother proud each time I played my guitar for my 5 and 6 year old students during our daily sing alongs.  Many of my students, now all grown up play guitar and sing.  I would like to think that my love of music, like Mr. Lavasseur's passion influenced them just a little. 

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