The letter was to Bruce Hornsby, whose PO Box address was listed in the liner notes of his Spirit Trail. Mostly I thanked him for his music and said he was an inspiration for my playing. He returned the letter with brief comments in the margins. I was absolutely thrilled. I might still have that letter in a box of other nostalgia. I recently received an email response that excited me as much.
This was quite timely, considering I’ve been reading three books. The first is a controversial book by a Michigan pastor some claim to be a false prophet. The second is an intellectual treatise by a well-respected, modern theologian—a difficult read, to say the least, but I am exceedingly interested in the topic. And the third is a humorous memoir about a kid growing up as a fundamentalist Baptist. (I’ll have a review about that one, since I’m reading it for a publisher.) They’re all similar in some ways.
I used to be so unsure of myself. Maybe it was junior high. Maybe it was just me. In front of the class my teacher would ask a question. I was somewhere in the middle—neither in the front with the ambitious students nor in the back with the ones who’d already given up at 13. Even if I thought I knew the answer, I would never raise my hand. Then another kid would be affirmed for his correct response, the very one I’d kept in my mind. Somehow in the past twenty something years, I’ve grown quite confident.
I used to think I could fool my piano teacher into believing I’d practiced, but now I know better. It’s interesting: I’ve found that the musicians who practice the most are usually the ones who wouldn’t seem to need the practice. But the better you get at an instrument—or a sport, or whatever it is—the more you realize you have much to learn.
How often do you leave church and before you’ve had lunch forget what the pastor said? There may be more to it than poor memory or lack of attentiveness.
Mr. Richardson was the chair of the English department at Kofa High in my hometown of Yuma, AZ. He may have been better suited for a college somewhere, since he was more demanding of his students than most other high school teachers. I had him for sophomore honors English. I immediately disliked him. He was pompous and brash and apparently had a dislike for arrogant sophomores like me—I guess it takes one to know one.
When I work on the car, I wish I had someone to help me understand. When I do some home repairs, I wish I had someone to show me how. In music, I’ve reaped the benefits of a good teacher. With guitar, though, I’ve been on my own. (It would probably be good to look into some lessons.)