I truly sympathised with Derek Troutman in his letter last month, where he simply had to tell someone he had mastered the F chord. Having decided to take up slide guitar when my youngest left for university, my sausage fingers have struggled every part of the way as I’ve battled with the basics. One of the hardest things has been to keep going, not helped by the fact that I don’t know any other guitar players, and that my family aren’t really interested in anything to do with what they jokingly call ‘my mid-life crisis’. I know that being able to slide down the fretboard in something loosely resembling a musical and controlled fashion isn’t curing a disease or ending poverty, but – given the amount of time it took me to get there – the urge to boast about it can be overwhelming. See, I’ve just done exactly that… and I don’t care that I’m telling a bunch of people that can blow me out of the water.

Ray Barlow via email

G&B Feel free to boast, Ray. As with Derek, we understand the need to talk to someone who understands and appreciates your achievements, and we all know what it’s like to have uncaring family and friends who don’t want to discuss guitar playing and music for hours on end (strange people that they are). As regards to your pursuits not being worthwhile, however, we completely disagree. Time spent learning a musical instrument is never wasted and makes you a better person – and the world a better place. For any timid learners out there, remember that fact (and it is a fact – there’s plenty of academic research to back this up) the next time someone decides to make snide comments in your direction…

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