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February 4, 2010 / theoldsilly

I Got a Gig!

Many of you know the Old Silly is an aging former Hippie … my first career right out of college (which I dropped out of in my junior year to “tune in, turn on and drop out” into the Hippie Movement in order to help save the world with sex, drugs and rock and roll) was that of a travelling rock musician, playing lead guitar, singing, and composing songs.

And no, I never made the cover of the Rolling Stone and had to eventually grow up and get a real job to better support my young but growing family. Never got that hit record, there are no albums or CD’s available to document my fabulous career as a rocker. Don’t rub it in, okay?

But I can still play. Ooooh yeah. Even with arthritic hands, while I might not have the blazing speed and cocky swagger that got me laid so often I once had, I still own the neck and can play with the taste and maturity that comes with 45 years of experience. I don’t play often anymore, Sundays at church in the praise band, an occasional jam session or recording session, that sort of thing. But often enough to stay pretty sharp.

So this opportunity came up just the other day, I got a call from a local high school orchestra director – they’re putting on a musical and they needed an electric lead guitar player for it. It’s the play Aida, with a score written by Elton John, and it’s eclectic stylistically, with several rockin’ passages requiring all the instrumentaion in a typical rock band. Cool. And they’re gonna pay me, too. Super cool! So I took the gig.

Only one problem.

It’s been like decades since I read music. I mean really reading music, like the charts in a symphony. I studied classical music in high school and college, and back in the day I could read music as well as prose. But my entire adult musical career, out in the real, play for money, nightclub and gigging world of pop and rock, heck – nobody reads music, you play by ear.

So my reading skills have atrophied. The first rehearsal was a red-faced nightmare. I got through it, managed to not embarrass myself too bad, but I couldn’t wait to take the book home and practice. Just got out of the second rehearsal and it went much better. Now I’m getting the “feel” of the tunes also, so I can use my ear to embelish the score more. The director smiles my way often, so I think I shan’t get fired. Whew.

Do you have a skill, or once had one, that you’ve let go, stopped using? One that, if you really had to use it again right now for something important, it would require some effort to “dust off the chops” and get good at it again?

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  1. John Standish / Feb 4 2010 7:08 am

    Good for you, Marv. Takes balls to throw yourself into a situation where you have to dig in and “relearn” an old skill fast. I used to be good at racketball, but if I had to take on a skilled opponent today I’d get creamed!

  2. Barbra Kelser / Feb 4 2010 7:10 am

    No albums or CD’s? Awww, I was SO gonna buy one! lol. Have fun with this, old silly, sounds like you got it under control, so RAWK ON! 😉

  3. Cactus Annie / Feb 4 2010 7:15 am

    You gonna get that blazing speed and cocky swagger that used to get you laid, too, Old Silly? LOL, kidding … just kidding!

  4. unwriter1 / Feb 4 2010 7:32 am

    You’ll pick up speed again. If I had to do any programming in C++ or Assembly, I would need some restudy time. I think I’ll just stick to making beaded jewelry. I can still do that anyway. It’s nice to have one decent (unpaid), skill.

  5. julielomoe / Feb 4 2010 7:54 am

    From one aging hippie to another – rock on! I never knew you played lead guitar – that’s great. And to be paid for it is wonderful. I can identify with your problems sight-reading and your playing by ear, because that’s my approach to piano playing as well. I play jazz and pop, and when I read music, I’m usually just reading the chord change indications (what do you call those, anyway?) above the staff, and then fake it.

    I actually got decently paid for my piano playing for about 12 years – when I was working as a creative arts therapist at a psychiatric hospital! Music reached the patients more deeply than anything else. And I had a neat little trio with two guys who were recreation therapists and played guitar and trumpet. We even played on a river boat on the Hudson a few times!

    Thanks for your comments on my blog about politics – I clicked there to come here, and I think I’ll stop right here rather than scrolling down and finding anything political. Music is much more fun!

    Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso

    • theoldsilly / Feb 4 2010 10:39 am

      Piano jazz and pop player? PLUS an old Hippie? I KNEW there was lots to love about you, Julie! 😉

  6. Elizabeth Spann Craig / Feb 4 2010 8:03 am

    It’ll all come back to you. Good for you for landing a paying gig!

    I think writing is VERY much like that. Like a muscle that has to be exercised. If I even take one day off, I can feel a difference with my speed, ability, etc.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

    • theoldsilly / Feb 4 2010 10:39 am

      Totally agree, Elizabeth. Gott keep the chops sharp, hmm?

  7. Alex J. Cavanaugh / Feb 4 2010 9:10 am

    Congratulations! And it’ll come back to you. I minored in music in college and when I started playing guitar a few years ago, it came back.

  8. quirkyloon / Feb 4 2010 9:54 am

    Congrats on the gig!

    “…gigging world of pop and rock, heck – nobody reads music, you play by ear.”

    Ack! So all my nagging about learning to read music to my guitar playing son is for naught?


    Should I discontinue the lessons?


    • theoldsilly / Feb 4 2010 10:41 am

      No, you MUST insist he learns to read music. This is imperative. If he asks “why?” just cite my example. You never know when you’re 60 years old and find yourself in a situation where you have to be able to read the score! 😉

  9. Helen Ginger / Feb 4 2010 10:06 am

    This gig will be videotaped, right? Put on YouTube? Posted to your blog? Touted on Twitter? In other words, we will get to see it, won’t we?

    Straight From Hel

    • theoldsilly / Feb 4 2010 10:42 am

      Hey thanks for the nudge. I’ll bet they will video it, and will look into getting a Youtube of it. That’d be way cool!

  10. Katrina Wampler / Feb 4 2010 10:52 am

    Oh, yeah. I have skills that have no doubt gone right down the tube.

    Back before my last heart attack, I was a fire fighter. I repelled from helicopters onto burning buildings and smashed through windows to grab trapped victims.

    It’s been four years since I repelled. Four years since I had to use every muscle in my body and all the adrenaline I could bottle to save a life. I miss it. I miss it more than I can explain and if I had to do it today, well … I couldn’t.

    Congrats on the gig and good luck with getting back into the swing of things. I hope to be doing the same soon.

  11. Stanley Berber / Feb 4 2010 11:58 am

    Dude, you RAWK! lol, worry not, it’s like riding a bike. Comes back to ya! 😉

  12. Arlee Bird / Feb 4 2010 1:29 pm

    Reading music’s like speaking a foeign language. If you’re not doing it, it can take a while to brush up. Mine is juggling. I was never that good, but I got by okay–enough to work as a professional. Juggling’s like riding a bicycle–you don’t forget how, but I’d have to start practicing to get smooth again and do the tricks. Now I mostly just juggle words and phrases.

  13. Elspeth Antonelli / Feb 4 2010 2:37 pm

    Good for you Old Silly!

    I used to be fairly good at playing the piano; I shudder to think what I’d play like now. I suspect my Mozart-playing days are behind me…

  14. yvonne lewis / Feb 4 2010 2:46 pm

    Marvin if only you knew how guiltyI feel for letting a talent slip literally through my fingers.
    I could pick up a tune at the age of 2 and play it on the piano, at 4yrs my mother
    decided I ought to have proper lessons , being a widow she managed to pay the fees somehow
    and I was having piano lessons, At 5yrs I won a cup and medal and then over the years
    passed many examinations…… for the guilt, my teens hit me and I got to enjoy
    the modern music so classical music tooka back seat, I didn’t realise the sacrifices my mother made
    for me to have lessons and dug my heels in. To cut a long story short I met my husband at 17, and gave up piano
    all to gether. I did after I had my children start playing the piano again and enjoyed it ,I now play a keyboard.
    Not to mention the tambourine I played on stage in N. Ireland with a c/western star. but I feel I let my mother down

    Good luck with your gig, lets us know how it goes.

    PS: i I am going to Nashville in June God Willing to see my favourite Irish singer at The Grand Ole Oprey.

  15. L. Diane Wolfe / Feb 4 2010 3:42 pm

    That is awesome, Marvin! And don’t stress – you’ll do better than you imagined.

  16. Jeannine Gardella / Feb 4 2010 3:52 pm

    Congratulations, and you will do just fine. Feels good to get back in the groove, I am sure.

    When we moved here to Yerington, my mother was playing the piano in church, but she soon gave it up and guess what – I got the job by default. I was way rusty, out of practice, etc. But they had patience with me (either that or they were desperate and/or their expectations weren’t too high), and I am still there.

    My son had sort of let his trumpet go after high school, but would pick it up occasionally. When his own son expressed an interest in an instrument (the bass clarinet), they started practicing together, and now they play together in a jazz combo in Portland.

    I guess the skills/talents remain there, albeit buried under all the other stuff we get ourselves involved in, but like dormant plants, just add a little water and fertilizer (whatever) and it all comes back.

  17. MadMadMargo / Feb 4 2010 5:25 pm

    Like you, I was a musician. Not only did I play in symphony orchestras, I also played in a couple of bands doing the nightclub/bar thing. I played viola from the time I was in the 4th grade until well after I graduated from college. The thing about a viola, you don’t play in the standard treble or bass clefs, you play in the “K” clef. I swear, if someone were to put a piece of music in the viola clef in front of me today, I’d be one lost player.

    Congratulations, I wish you the very best. Make sure you get a video posted to YouTube of your performance so we can enjoying you rocking out!!!

  18. Jane Kennedy Sutton / Feb 4 2010 6:17 pm

    Congratulations! Sounds like fun.

    The only skill I can think of that I haven’t used in many years is a hula hoop and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the ability to keep it going around and around and up and down…

  19. Mason Canyon / Feb 4 2010 8:30 pm

    Congrats on the gig. Sounds like you’re getting back into the swing of things fast.

  20. Patricia Stoltey / Feb 4 2010 11:40 pm

    Congratulations, Marvin. That sounds like wonderful fun. My rusty skills are playing the piano and riding a bike. But I never did either one of them well enough to regret giving them up.

  21. AmyLK / Feb 5 2010 9:55 am

    I used to play the flute in high school. Son just started trumpet lessons (ouch!) and I’m trying to help him read the music. Its coming back but SLOWLY. lol Have fun with the new gig!

  22. Simon Hay / Feb 6 2010 8:28 am

    Rusty skills! I did martial arts for 14 years, taught for nine. Those skills have been neglected for 7 years. I was ill for 4 years. Ouch! I’m only a danger to myself now.

    Congrats on the gig. Utube baby!

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