Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My brother plays a little guitar

My brother plays a little guitar
22 July 2014

No, seriously!  Look at the pic above.  When he’s not playing one of his regular big axes, he fiddles around on a little guitar.

I grew up in a very musical home.  Everyone could play something.  Usually more than one thing.  Everyone could sing.  Instruments were aplenty.

It was a natural progression for one of us to pick up the guitar.  Luck would have it, that the right kid did.  And the right instrument too.  Would have been utterly wasted on me.

Can you imagine, Albert Frost, The Dark Prince of Blues and all round rock star – the piano player??? 

We both had a bit of a Clarinet phase.  An even less likely instrument to inspire rock-star-ness.  Mostly likely the epitome of unsexy.  Probably a real ladies killer too.  And not in a good way either.  As in ladies run in the opposite direction.  But, lovely though the Clarinet was, for both of us, it luckily passed.  I even remember a brief recorder phase during Primary School.  Probably one of the most pointless instruments in the whole world.  I mean, even a triangle has more attitude.  And let’s not forget the cymbals!  With those little leather thong strappy things.  And we all know how cool thongs are…

Anyway, my mind is clearly drifting again.  Back to Albert.

Now the remarkable thing about Albert and the guitar, is that it’s all self-taught.  Not a single lesson in his life. 

No one ever nagged him to practice.  In fact, it was more of a challenge to get him to put the bloody guitar down, and stop practicing, than the other way around.  It went everywhere with us.  I remember going away for the odd weekend, when we were kids and driving in a really little car.  My folks, quite obviously in the front seats.  And Albert, Katrine and I, plus a friggin guitar, sharing cramped quarters in the back.  However, in true Von Trapp family style, we always managed to turn it into a fun adventure.  Even a long car trip.  All of us singing along to Beatles or Rolling Stones tunes.  Even a bit of Crowded House – the flavour of the day.

Those were really good times.  Funny that only hindsight made me realise it.  At the time, I was mortified by the little car.  The uncool parents.  The nerdy brother with his guitar appendage.  The annoying little chatterbox sister – I swear she never kept quiet.  Even for a minute.  For about fifteen years.  True story.

But here’s the thing – whilst most teenagers outgrow their obsessions and fads, Albert nurtured his.  Actually the whole family did.  He was encouraged.  Applauded.  Praised.  And without too much interference with his instrument, he quite simply slogged on with his continual practicing, and he flourished.

He could mimic and copy any song, anywhere, any time.  I remember in the beginning, he would battle it out a bit.  Struggle through the chords, and try and work it out on his own.  Lots of strumming.  And yes, like any other novice guitarist, he did a fair amount of “Smoke on the water” too.  It’s like a guitarist’s rite of passage.  Everyone cuts their teeth on that tune. 

I daresay, that he could play anything instantly now.  He knows each and every string on a guitar.  Intimately.  Knows exactly how to manipulate it, to get the exact sound he requires.  Precisely when and how to hit the right note.  With an incredible mastery and knowledge.

He’s a true living testament to perseverance.  Determination.  Drive.  And incredible talent.

Hard work pays off.  But what a bonus, if the work feels like fun.  Practice brings you joy, and the sweetest melodies flow forth from your efforts.

Yip, my brother plays a little guitar.  Like a boss.

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  2. Watched our Al play a little guitar at the Atterbury Theartre in Pretoria last night with the Blues Broers. He ain't half bad!!!! True story - like a boss!!!!

  3. Thanks for yet another magnificent family story by our family archivist!