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Friday, April 29, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 17

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3/26/2014 2:00:00 PM
Back talk from the back house
By Nancy Wilson

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" goes the old bromide among young, aspiring musicians. The answer should be obvious, "practice, practice, practice."

It's too late for me, in the first place - nor do I have any desire to appear on the Carnegie Hall stage. I never did, although I have attended a couple of concerts there in my far-past youth. But I do need to practice, practice, practice.

I need to practice my new instrument, Mariah, the bass guitar, until I can make a scale, even the simple C scale, come out right (it doesn't yet); I need to practice until my fingers redevelop the calluses I've lost since giving up the cello. It's a whole new start, with an entirely different instrument, and eminently challenging.

Everything's 180 degrees from what it was on the cello, which only serves to confuse me mightily. Up is down, and down is up, and I've no idea how long it will take for me to get that into my ancient head.

The strings are only slightly different - E, A, D, and G; on the cello, they were A, D, G, and C. I am pretty well able to figure out which is which on the guitar, which helps, but I am aware that I have a tremendous amount of work to do among them.

After breakfast each morning now, I take Mariah out from her corner to see what I can figure out. Fortunately, I had a lesson a few days ago, so I have something to go by; that itself is a rather long story.

Having decided I'd try a guitar, because I still had the urge to play something, I bought myself a used bass the last time I went to Portland. After I got home, and stared at it for a while, I realized that I would need a teacher. Who was there around here?

I stopped at the Salt Bay Trading Company, where I had taken my last (decrepit) cello for repairs; the sign outside the building announced loud and clearly, guitars.

David, the proprietor (I don't know his last name) gave me the name of someone to call: Peter Jackson. I telephoned him, but I could not schedule lessons with him because I had no way to get to Damariscotta to his place. He gave me another name, however: Jack Tukey. I telephoned him.

We finally caught up with each other last week, when he came out to my backhouse to give me the first lesson. By all this exploring and asking around, I had found myself an excellent teacher, one who really knows what he is doing.

Like any good teacher, he not only has an intimate knowledge of his craft, but he also has the ability to communicate this knowledge to an ignorant student. He instinctively zeroed in on what his student (me) needed, and was able to explain it in clear, unambiguous terms so that even I could understand him.

As far as I'm concerned, the lesson was quite successful, and will be more so when I learn where more of the notes are hiding from me ... I'm working on that. (Between low C and middle C, do my fingers need to go up or down? I'll think about that tomorrow.)

The HEY, or Hearts Ever Young, concerts in June are the reason for all this effort. I'm not a singer, but I still want to participate, to be in the band, at least.

Not satisfied to sit in the audience, as I have done so very many times to review other concerts, I need to be inside the music. And so, if you should happen to drive past the backhouse, you might want to block your ears so that you won't be able to hear me practice, practice, practice.

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