Almost every Wednesday afternoon since we arrived in Antigua, I have been taking mandolin lessons at the Guatemalan cultural centre. Ricardo, a very short and very sweet green-eyed Guatemalan, is my teacher. For an hour and $7, I sit in the front room of the corner building in the Parque Central. As tourists walk through on their way to look at the Guatemalan arts and crafts, they pass the “gringa” strumming away on her mandolin. I pluck quietly, hoping no one can hear my playing.
There are always at least a couple of other students attending the music class “with” me. Or more accurately, beside me. It changes week to week. There is the very young boy learning to sing while sitting at the keyboard with the pre-programmed tune. There is another little guy learning how to play “Smoke on the Water” on electric guitar. Every so often two of his buddies join him. With the three of them strumming away on electric guitars there are no worries about anyone hearing my bad playing. Including myself! The other day there was the little girl learning to play the theme song to “Titanic” on her violin. Ouch.
In the hour before mine, there is another small group of students. A couple of them are not usually picked up until about 10 or 15 minutes into my lesson. As they wait, they watch and listen. They are so sweet and so respectful. I don’t believe they’ve been around adults learning to play an instrument before. At first I wondered how I would be received, what they would think, and how they would react. They are very accepting and at the same time very curious about this new sight. I think it is a beneficial thing for children to see us learning. And even to see us struggling at learning something new. It’s a more realistic representation of life. Beats having them believe that we as adults, have it “all together.” Because last time I checked, we are nowhere near having it all together!
This little story will make you chuckle:
I try to practice mandolin as often as I can between lessons. I recorded the Guatemalan folk tune that Ricardo is teaching me in an attempt to gain some familiarity with the song. He played the song on my mandolin while I recorded it on my iPod. Later on, before starting my practice, I played the recording while Greg was in the other room. For the first time ever, I heard him call from the other room; “Sweetie, you’re getting so much better.” Needless to say we both had a good chuckle over that one!
Here is the recording of “Luna Xelaju” that Greg was so impressed with! -Heather