Bruce with guitar, 1976It seems like everybody has at one time played guitar, wanted to play the instrument, or hopes to learn it someday. I was no exception. The rock music of the sixties made me feel that playing guitar would make me one of the cool kids. I often dreamt of playing rock music in a band but it never came to be.

I learned just how hard playing guitar was when I was at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in 1969. The music teacher decided that we should learn to play the instrument. A dozen acoustic guitars were bought and we were allowed to take them to the dorm to practice them. My excitement turned to disappointment when I found out that the music didn’t automatically come to me.

Sadly, my classmates and I soon lost enthusiasm for playing guitar. I remember one class where the teacher got angry when I told him that I hadn’t practiced. His rant just alienated me more from his tutelage and from guitar lessons in general.

Five years later, a friend at church gave me a battered old guitar. With the help of another friend, this one from school, I learned some basic chords. I still remember the joy I felt when I learned to play the chords for the chorus of a song by John Lennon called “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out.”

A year later, I needed to fill some time at school because I had to drop out of electronics class. I took the easy route, opting for Home Economics and Classical Guitar. While in that latter class, I found that my old Melody King guitar was perfect for playing classical pieces. The strings were the right distance apart and not too high above the fret board.

During the summer of 1975, I convinced the church I attended to let me strum along with the hymns. The woman who played the accordion thought there were too few singers but I said it would be my contribution since I couldn’t read the hymn book. I played from then on until I left that house church in 1987.

It wasn’t until 1986 that I bought myself a second hand electric guitar. There too, I learned something I hadn’t imagined. Those instruments are heavy. They seem so light when in the hands of rock stars. I also didn’t like its strings being so high above the fret board and so close together. Consequently, I didn’t play it often.

It’s been years since I played either my acoustic or electric guitars. Being busy with writing, I haven’t had the time or inclination to dust off my instruments.

As for that house church I attended, click here to learn about a book I wrote regarding my spiritual journey.


Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.


  1. Bruce. As a child, I was in awe of my older brother, who used to shake the foundation of our home with his electric Fender guitar. He usually broke out with some Hendrix or something from Woodstock. I finally picked up and self taught myself in 95. A little late, but my love of music was soon elevated. I have several guitars, the favorite being my Fender 12 string electric acoustic that I traded for my roto-tiller in 2011. I also love my Washburn acoustic, which was my first guitar. There is nothing quite like the medicine that music brings, and creating it with a guitar in your arms is, well, there’s nothing quite like it. Great post! dp

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