I Learned to Play the Guitar for My Dogs.

I play the guitar, the ukelele and the banjo for Henry and Wilson.

I decided to begin taking guitar lessons at an age at which friends and family asked: “YOU are going to start taking guitar lessons?” Learning to play guitar was on my bucket list, along with “write and publish a book.” My list is pretty short, I suppose. I had no prior experience with any musical instrument other than the harmonica, which every guy thinks he can pick up and play flawlessly with zero practice.

I did some research and ordered an inexpensive, but-not-too-cheap guitar online, then Googled music teachers near me.

For a year and a half, I took lessons once a week and loved it. I upgraded to a better guitar and also began to teach myself the ukulele by watching YouTube videos. Eventually, I gained enough confidence in my playing; I decided to attempt it publically.

In my “real” job, I tell jokes and do magic tricks on stage in a dinner show in Orlando, Florida. I’ve been a full-time comedian and magician for over 25 years. Still, even though I’ve had plenty of flight-time onstage, adding a musical instrument made me nervous, very nervous. It was new territory.

When I decided to include live music in my stage shows, the audiences seemed confused; why is this guy walking out with a guitar when he’s supposed to make a rabbit appear? Had they never heard of Steve Martin, I wondered? I experimented, moved the musical segment around to various points in the show; occasionally switched from guitar to ukulele, and sometimes played both.

                              Promotional Shot of My Live Show

Eventually, I took live music out of the show entirely. It wasn’t because I was terrible, although, I indeed wasn’t great, (at least, that’s what I tell myself”. It just didn’t click with the rest of what I did onstage. Slowly, over the course of time, I became discouraged, stopped practicing and finally playing entirely. My instruments began to go out of tune and to gather dust in my office. Eventually, they became wall decorations.

A few years went by, and recently, I picked up the banjo I had purchased near the end of my music performing run and began to strum a few licks. It felt good, really good. “Why?” I asked myself, had I stopped playing in the first place? After all, I didn’t start out learning to play music to perform publicly or for money; I did it because I wanted to learn a talent for “me.” I had allowed the disinterest of others to affect my level of interest, thus, creating a lack of interest in it myself.

The takeaway here; they may be performance arts, but it’s okay to want to learn to play an instrument, learn to dance, sing, or whatever, for yourself and your pets if you have any. I take a tremendous amount of joy, sitting in my house and playing to no one except myself and my dogs, Wilson and Henry. The pleasure is in the “practice” and the “doing,” not “performing.” Practicing music is relaxing, soothing and meditative for me and it doesn’t bother the dogs; isn’t that enough?

A few years went by, and recently, I picked up the banjo I had purchased near the end of my music performing run and began to strum a few licks. It felt good, really good. “Why?” I asked myself, had I stopped playing in the first place? After all, I didn’t start out learning to play music to perform publicly or for money; I did it because I wanted to learn a talent for “me.” I had allowed the disinterest of others to affect my level of interest, thus, creating a lack of interest in it myself.

The takeaway here; they may be performance arts, but it’s okay to want to learn to play an instrument, learn to dance, sing, or whatever, for yourself and your pets if you have any. I take a tremendous amount of joy, sitting in my house and playing to no one except myself and my dogs, Wilson and Henry. The pleasure is in the “practice” and the “doing,” not “performing.” Practicing music is relaxing, soothing and meditative for me and it doesn’t bother the dogs; isn’t that enough?

Wilson on the left and Henry on the right in my messy office

At some point, I may decide to try performing music publically again, but no matter how talented I may become, it’s okay if I don’t play for people and continue playing for myself and my dogs.

Except, that is, the harmonica, my dogs HATE the harmonica.

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