open letter to my teacher 2: “hey, you’re a spazz!”

Dear LT,

I often told myself you were the best teacher for the job of teaching me guitar because you didn’t take any of my crap. And I give out a lot of it because I worry about everything. Remember how you could barely get me to play a scale in the beginning because I worried about that, too? Jeez, if I wasn’t paying you, I would have been surprised you didn’t kick me out. Actually, you did kick me out once, but I’m glad you did because I gave out some crap about not practicing and deserved it. Whatever. Anyway, there are many other reasons why I am satisfied that I hired you:

My mom told me a couple times that her dad used to tell her “don’t bullshit a bullshitter,” meaning: “anything you try to pull, I’ve done or seen before. So don’t even try.” Not that I tried to bullshit you, but I got nervy about everything. And every nervy bout of nervousness was soothed by a world-famous LT goof story from your times of being a mop-headed young musician. (My favorite story is still about the Latino neighbor who called you the wrong name for a long time, and then you ended up playing Carlos Santana with him.) Now that you no longer have mop hair and are pretty successful, I thought to myself, “Dang, it must be okay to make mistakes. A lot.” You might as well have told me, “Don’t spazz out to a spazz. Because I’ve got stories to rival that.”

You actually did call me a spazz once. And then you gave me a book called Guitar Zen and told me it helped you spazz less.

You told me once that I play better than I practice. Meaning that once I’m up and playing in front of people, I think “Why not? This isn’t half bad!” and when I sit down to practice or have a lesson, I get too into myself and overthink every move. I can’t tell you how insightful that was to my whole life. WHOLE LIFE, LT, MY WHOLE LIFE. I characteristically am fine doing anything once I get started and stop sinking into my turtle shell of worries, but on my own it takes a lot to emerge from that shell and give it a go. This also told me that I’m not a bad player, I just need to calm the heck down.

You also call playing along with songs “The Gig Simulator.” I can’t call it anything else, now.

You showed me how much work it takes to be a musician, and showed me, now that I think on it, that I am not a fit for that lifestyle. I had been spazzing out about using music as a career and I got an accurate example of what that takes, and I am relieved: that’s not me. Although, I do greatly admire your years and years of experience – I think you said you started playing in the year I was born, so that’s 18 years of playing!!! – and I think that everyone should buy your CD and come out to the Sunday night jams to hear you and your jazz gang play because it’s really a hard thing to do, become a musician. So, I would much rather write, that’s more my scene.

But! That doesn’t mean I can’t learn for fun and learn to learn because look at what I learned about myself just by playing? I learned from you that with a great teacher, one can learn about herself and the subject at hand. I should call you LT, Guitar Therapist.

In conclusion, I’m weird! And you’re the perfect mix of goof and skilled to turn my weird into a decent musical ability. What other teacher would say, “Hey, you’re a spazz! But we can all be spazzes sometimes, so that’s okay”? I find myself these days in need of some guitar therapy, and even though jazz isn’t really where I want to go with guitar, I miss my goof-storied lessons and musical ideas to try at home. I will admit, I’m out of practice. But maybe that’s just the spazz talking. I don’t know. See? I need you. You put my spazz in perspective. And I thank you. That’s a real gift.


As my mom likes to call it: Your little chicken, Sam

One thought on “open letter to my teacher 2: “hey, you’re a spazz!”

  1. Dear Sam, I am very touched by what you wrote. It was a great joy for me to see you progress on the guitar and develop into a courageous and talented player. I’m so proud of you and I miss our lessons . Please give my best to mom , dad, and your sister and I hope to see you around town before you go to school… take care of that sweet yellow Epi and I’m glad I was able to help even though you did all the work.. keep playing guitar Sam, its the best medicine out there and you can play it well!!!

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