Monday, January 17, 2011

Learning Something New

by Christie Kelley

We've all heard how as we grow older we need to keep our minds active. There are many different ways of doing this. Some people talk about crossword puzzles, solving sudoko puzzles or learning a new language. I decided this past Christmas that it was time for me to learn something new.

So...I asked my husband for guitar lessons for Christmas. My husband is an accomplished guitarist and teaches about 30 students a week. He was very excited about the chance to teach me this new instrument.

And wow, I feel challenged. I played piano when I was young but never learned a stringed instrument before now. It's really different. Already, I feel like my mind is working overtime. So I guess that means it's working!

How about you? When was the last time you took the time to learn something new? What's something you always wanted to learn how to done but haven't do it yet?


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun

Helen said...

Well the GR in is for a hot day down under today I am inside with the air con on and reading while staying cool LOL

Good on you Christie I firmly believe in the old saying an older sponge takes longer to soak things up LOL.

I am not sure there is anything that I would really like to learn although playing a piano was something that as a very young girl I always wanted to do. Maybe it would be a good idea for me to learn more about a computer what I know I have learn't along the way and there are so many things that I would like to know like how to set up a excel spread sheet I find these things so hard so yes that is what I would like to learn. Now I need to find the time

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, here comes the chook!

Wow, Christie, good on you with learning the guitar. I always had a yen to learn the harp - maybe you'll inspire me. I played the piano for most of my young days pretty seriously but never really ventured into other instruments. Every so often, I get the urge to do something with learning another language but I lie down until the madness passes ;-)

Laurie Faelan said...

LOL. You're brave to have your husband teach you. Mine taught me to play tennis years ago and made so mad, I learned how to place the ball by aiming for certain parts of his anatomy. ;)

Let's see. I started to write fiction three and a half years ago and I'm learning constantly. Between the research, brainstorming, and the actual writing, my brain gets a lot of exercise.

Reading, of course, and I read constantly!

My family likes to play Scrabble which is wonderful to stretch the brain.

As for what I'd love to learn, I do play the piano and guitar but I'd love to take more lessons, and start the Irish fiddle and Hammered Dulcimer.

I want to go back to studying ASL and learn at least one other language fluently. I have some Irish tapes that I've been meaning to start.

I want to take a whole foods cooking lessons and a jewelry design class.

I could go on indefinitely, but I'll spare you. :D

P.S. I forgot one! Commenting on Romance Bandit posts always makes me think!

BJ said...

Good luck on your guitar lessons...I've tried, but I never could get my fingers in the right spots (guess that explains all my typing errors on my posts....LOL)
I'm actually lucky enough to have a friend who teaches Bob Ross painting classes, so I am going to learn how to's been on my to do list since I was 16 and to finally knock it off will be AWESOME!!!!!

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

A couple a years ago, my cousin's husband tried to teach me how to play chess. We had a few matches and since then I haven't played. I should take advantage of the free online chess tutorials. I also want to learn how to knit. Learning a new language is always useful.

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie - How cool that you're learning the guitar! I always wanted to play the piano, but I'm not sure that's going to happen (grin).

After traveling to Mexico this fall, I'd like to learn Spanish. I had three years of French in high school and remember very little - time to brush up those skills.

I think you're right about keeping the brain sharp. If I won the lottery, I think I'd be a permanent student at the University. So many things to try, so little time.

Sheree said...

Have fun with learning the guitar, Christie! Remember, the strings won't hurt once the calluses develop (I used to play the violin and was very happy when my calluses were finally gone).

I'm not sure what I want to learn; maybe something I tried in the past but really should try to get better at? I'm thinking fencing. I'm also thinking of introducing my niece (age 9) and nephew (age 6) to various activities I think they should be exposed to, like fishing (not so much the catching but casting a line and baiting a hook), shooting (when they are older), and archery (probably not for years either). I don't necessarily want them to shoot at anything or even handle a rifle right now, but just to know the basics so that if they are interested, they can learn in the future. If I, a city kid, grew up learning all this, they should, too, even if they live in suburbia.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Helen, congrats on the GR today!

I think your idea about learning more on computers is an excellent idea.
There are some really good books with tutorials for learning more about computer software.

Good luck!

Anita Clenney said...

My son's football team needed volunteers to raise money for a trip so I offered to work a hectic concession stand at a local college. I had never used a real cash register, and I'm embarassed to say I was intimidated to try it. But I did it. Twice, in fact, and it felt so amazing to master something I'd never done before. Even something so small.

Christie Kelley said...

Anna, my husband took Italian at the local community college this past fall. While he loved it, as the semester went on, he started to struggle. It didn't help that he had to miss several classes because of business travel.

Christie Kelley said...

Laurie, your comment about the tennis lesson almost made me spew my coffee.

We're a big Scrabble family here too. I love all your ideas for things to keep the brain active. It's funny I had also thought about the Irish fiddle. Maybe after I learn a little more guitar.

Christie Kelley said...

Bj, the painting lessons sound like so much fun!

I'm still struggling with the finger positions on the guitar. I broke my left wrist about six years ago so I don't know if sometimes I'm having issues because of that. My husband says it just takes practice. We'll see!

Christie Kelley said...

Jane, I love chess. When my oldest was around 10, we played all the time. We actually haven't played in a while so it might be time to pull out the board.

Christie Kelley said...

Donna, after my husband started to struggle with the Italian classes at the local community college, I bought him the Rosetta stone course. My oldest bought it for Japanese and highly recommends it.

Christie Kelley said...

Sheree, I haven't built up the calluses yet. It's really more the wrist positions that get me.

I laughed at the fencing comment. I have always wanted to take fencing lessons. Maybe someday!

Christie Kelley said...

Anita, even learning something small is a great accomplishment. I was so relieved when I volunteered at the middle school book this year because they actually had cash registers. Before you used to have to use a calculator to add everything and then calculate tax. This was so much easier!

Margay said...

I can't remember the last time I tried to learn something new - I haven't had the time between my writing, getting my older daughter into college and my younger daughter through back surgery. One thing I've always wanted to learn how to do, however, is to play the violin. I'd also like to learn how to paint with watercolors and spin my own yarn.

Anna Sugden said...

Yay Christie on learning something new! It's always such a great mix of enthusiasm and frustration, isn't it?!

My hubby went back to Uni when he retired, to study his first love, history. He absolutely loves it - mind, you, being in Cambridge kind of helps *g*.

I'd love to learn all sorts of things. How to chop like a chef and how to arrange flowers properly. I'd love to learn how to speak Italian and Japanese.

As with all things, it's finding the time that's the problem!

Nancy said...

Helen, congrats on the bird! Maybe the heat will keep him too tired to steal your Tim Tams.

Christie, good for you! I played both piano and clarinet, with a brief bit of dabbling with flute, when I was younger. String instruments are a different proposition, as you say.

I'd like to learn Russian someday, or take jewelry-making at Michaels (part of my longterm plan to de-mystify Michaels).

The last time I learned something new was when I enrolled in karate, which was very new and very different. I'd still be doing it if not for back and knee issues. I hope you will enjoy guitar as much as I enjoyed that.

If I were going to pick an instrument to learn now, it would be either flute or Celtic harp--which I suspect would be extremely challenging.

jo robertson said...

Congrats, Helen!

Interesting topic, Christie. I think that keeping-your-mind-young ship has sailed for me LOL.

I love guitar, probably because it's one of the easiest instruments to become proficient-sounding in a short time. Good luck on the journey.

I hope that all of the writing that I do will keep my mind healthy!

Janga said...

I'd love to learn to quilt. I have a friend who has offered often to teach me. Finding time is the problem. Time wouldn't help with playing a musical instrument since I have no musical aptitude at all. I do find it satisfying to give the characters I create the gifts I lack.

Since I am regularly engaged in research for the freelance writing I do, on subjects ranging from global warming to disaster relief to the Mandarins of Southeast Asia to people as varied as Dolly Parton and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, I think I keep my brain active.

Christie Kelley said...

Anna, I've always wanted to go back to get a degree in history. I think that may have to wait a few years, though. Just not enough time in the day right now.

Christie Kelley said...

Nancy, I think it's awesome that you took karate. I've been trying to get my 13 yr old interested in it. He's decided not to play baseball this spring so I want to get him involved with something.

I think you could pick up flute without too much trouble but celtic harp might be just a little harder :)

Christie Kelley said...

Jo, I'm sure all the writing helps keep the brain young. We'll see about the guitar though. I'm having a difficult time with the chords.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Margay, I hear you with the time issues. It's tough some days finding time to practice. I tried playing around with the violin when my boys took it in 3rd grade. Maybe if I'd had a teacher it would have helped.

Danielle Gorman said...

Good luck with learning the guitar. I tried to learn a couple of years ago. I learned a few chords in some songs. I didn't keep going with it because I realized I have really tiny hands and it is super hard. I can't reach the bottom strings.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Danielle, the chords are definitely hard. I'm still learning the strings, which is pretty easy.

Laurie Faelan said...

Christie Kelley said...
I've been trying to get my 13 yr old interested in it. He's decided not to play baseball this spring so I want to get him involved with something.

My 5 year old granddaughter takes Karate and loves it. She thinks it's fun and doesn't realize she's learning useful lifelong skills. Doesn't hurt that she's getting an outlet for excess energy!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

This isn't quite as ambitious as taking guitar lessons, but one of my goals for this year is to begin on a bigger goal of reading a biography of every U.S. president, in order. So I just downloaded the new Washington bio a few days ago.

Nancy said...

Christie, I hope your 13-yr-old will give karate a try. It's a lot of repetition and, at our school, conditioning, but it can be very cathartic.

And x-ray paper makes a very satisfying thwack when you kick or punch it.

If I remembered much about clarinet, picking up the flute would be mostly a matter of breath control and embouchure (lip placement and tension--alas, not as romantic as it sounds). Unfortunately, I'm not sure I could still play even a simple scale on a clarinet now, though we still have it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WTG on capturing the GR, Helen!

As Nancy says, maybe the heat will sap his energy and make him easier to deal with. :-)

Christie, I think it's totally KEWL that you're learning to play guitar. I played the flute when I was a kid and was actually pretty good at it (practicing got me out of doing dishes). Then I discovered boys and flute practice went out the window! I'd love to take it up again someday.

When we were traveling more to Europe and Asia, I always tried to pick up a few handy phrases in the various languages. I can ask for the bathroom in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Turkish, and Thai! Italian is such a pretty language, I'd love to learn more of it, and I'd also love to learn some Mandarin, since it has the most speakers worldwide. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WTG, BJ on learning to paint! That Bob Ross method looks really fun and fairly easy. Please let us know how it goes for you!

And Trish, reading a biography of every president sounds like a wonderful idea! I saw the author of the new Washington biography interviewed on Charlie Rose and he was super-interesting. Bet his book is too!


Keira Soleore said...

Hats off to you for having the guts to take up a new instrument (AND lessons from your husband).

I've always wanted to write, but my education and career were in something entirely different. So in order to explore this writing thing, I had to step way out of my comfort zone to take nonfiction and fiction writing classes, in addition to editing and proofreading classes. Two years later, I felt better prepared.

Helen, yay. Hooray for the GR at your place!

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Helen !! I know he will enjoy a day with you!

Christie, I think it is great that you are learning the guitar! And very brave of you to take lessons from your DH !!

There are so many things I want to learn and study, but until I can shed the DDJ (Dreaded Day Job) I just don't know it if is possible. I spent years in undergrad and grad school learning foreign languages with my opera performance degrees, but it has been so long since I have studied or spoken these languages on a daily basis that I know I am losing my language skills every day. I would love to spend some time brushing up, especially my German, French and Russian.

I play the piano (to quote Lizzie Bennett "Only a little and very poorly.")and the clarinet and bassoon, but I would LOVE to learn the Celtic harp and I would also love to learn to play the bagpipes!

I only took up writing again a little over 4 years ago and I am learning more about the craft every day.

I took fencing lessons a hundred years ago and I would LOVE to take it up again.

Janga, quilting is easy and very soothing. I love needlework and especially quilting, but again working a 40 hour plus work week I and trying to write every day I just don't have the time for it as much as I would like.

Oh, and I would dearly love to study the art of stained glass !!

PinkPeony said...

Hi Christie!

We have two guitars in the house, one of which I dragged all the way back from Singapore when I was twelve. I played piano for over ten years, the flute in band, and know one chord on the guitar, G major. :) I've been thinking of getting Rosetta Stone tapes for French. Spanish is more useful in CA, but I've always loved French. I'm amazed that I'm able to understand instructions in French after three years of h.s. French classes eons ago.

Good luck with the guitar. Continually challenging ourselves is so importatnt. I hope you grow some callouses on your fingertips. It helps!

Congrats on the GR, Helen!