The Carter Family

It’s been awhile since I picked up a guitar. This new year was just about as good a time as any to scratch off some things on my  “to do” list.  (Doesn’t seem to get any shorter, does it?)

I’m hardly an expert; but, I can say if you are wanting to play an instrument, start easy with a song you like to sing that has easy chords.  Basically, don’t bite off more than you can chew – admit you aren’t going to be Neil Young anytime soon!

The first week my poor fingertips hurt like heck.  I made sure to practice chords every night. But, the next morning, I could barely feel the keys to the computer keyboard.   After about a month rubbing alcohol on my tips after each practice session, as sis prescribed, my fingers have calluses. Now, the chords don’t hurt as much (well, except for the durn “D”).  Yeehaw!

We like “folksie” music  – grew up listening to Joan Baez, John Denver, Peter Paul & Mary, Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens and many many more.  A few years ago, I  got hooked on Gillian Welch and loved her simple song “Winter’s Come and Gone.” It turns out that it is an easy song with fairly simple chords changes.   Although I would like to think I have pretty good hand/eye coordination, changing chords and strumming was as challenging as patting my head and rubbing my tummy.  URGH.

Original music tracks are great but they are done in a studio.  If you can search YouTube for someone who has done a good “raw” cover (like this one), you can copy the strumming style.  Jordanne is up to the finger picking level (she does an awesome Redemption Song on guitar).   But, for now, nothing fancy for me!  I’ll just continue to “pat my head, rub my tummy!” Er, I mean, stick to the Three P’s (practice, practice, practice), plain strumming and working on faster chords changes.

What I learned is that when I think I don’t have enough time to do something, it’s all about MAKING time.  It’s there, you just have to find it.

Love this UK site full of lyrics and chords to traditional tunes

There are loads of helpful how tos on YouTube, too.

What’s new on your Re-Skill /To Do List this year?


  1. Misty says:

    I have been enjoying your website for years. I just want to take time to thank you for all the free homesteading advice you have given me, in addition to answering my questions privately about things I have asked you. You have all my gratitude for freely giving us so much and showing what is possible if we only dare to dream.

  2. CE says:

    You could contact your local California chapter of the Old Time Fiddlers Association. Each state has them. I know you are not taking up the fiddle/violin. But they have free fiddle, guitar and mandolin classes in many areas. They teach you to play by ear, repetition and by reading music if you want. It is a fun group of people to be with and they are very supportive of new learners and of passing along the musical tradition. They focus on folk and traditional music but also blues, bluegrass etc. And it can be all free! What a deal. 🙂

    • GK says:

      Recently whittled down my ring finger – apparently it has been too long since I played, and so it was painful for the last 2-3 days and I can still feel it today.

      I feel your pain.

      Music is good for the soul. Who knows it might be good for the soil too, and I expect it is since it is all connected.

      Warm Regards,

  3. Ginger says:

    you make me smile

  4. Nebraska Dave says:

    Anais, how do you ever have time to practice the guitar. Oh, maybe because you don’t watch hours of TV or maybe because there’s no computer game machine that takes up hours of time. :0) I think it’s a funny thing that my daughter spends hours of time on the computer playing Farmville on facebook when she could be outside actually growing a real garden. It would probably take less time.

    Have a great guitar learning day.

  5. M. says:

    Thank you for updating us on your guitar studies! I was wondering how you were progressing. Congratulations! Please keep us updated periodically.

    You are correct. It *is* about making the time.

    This year, I decided to learn to play the recorder. While it is an easy instrument to learn, it is a difficult instrument to play well. I have been having fun with it! Next on the list? Getting back into my art journals. In the meantime, I/we are working on the homestead list. It is steadily getting smaller. 🙂

  6. Chris says:

    I started playin about 8 months ago. Wish I had more time. Sure like picking it up after a hard days work and seeing what noise I can make. Hope all is well!

  7. sara f says:

    i’m so happy to have found this life project, through a video on youtube. i had been gardening in my tiny urban garden through the afternoon and doing some research online. i’ll be following your blog and keep day-dreaming about my own farm, doing a little at a time to see changes around me.

    i, too, need to have a guitar practice schedule… learned as a teen and got discouraged. but recently my brother gave me a guitar as a present, so i do want to give it another try, even if it’s just for therapeutic purposes 🙂

  8. arbie says:

    I just picked up the guitar, too — Are you playing on a classical or acoustic guitar? The steel strings are much harder on the fingertips!

    • Anais says:

      @arbie: Thanks for your comment. Playing Acoustic. I know! The steel strings are KILLER 🙂

  9. Lahela says:

    I’m really happy to see this post up here. Ever since I, and generations before me, were young there has always been stories, laughter, and music. It’s an integral part of what makes a family and a community whole.

  10. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for the UK site link. Its a great resource 🙂


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