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My Dad Taught Me That Music Matters

Thanks Dad ...

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

My dad made me play an instrument when I was a kid. I don’t know that I disliked it, and I know I liked the idea of it, but stopping whatever I was doing to drive to the piano teacher’s house for a half hour wasn’t high on my list of priorities. I would stumble through the material I was supposed to have mastered over the previous week and viewed it as a weekly trial I just needed to survive so I could get on to not doing the following week’s lessons. 

 

Dad played piano, of course, and made sure we had one in the house, but he also had a burgundy guitar (’77 Les Paul, I would later learn) that sat nearby that was a definite “no touch” for the kids. The fact that he could play anything he wanted (to my young mind) made it seem both more approachable than the piano and incredibly intimidating at the same time. As far as I knew, everyone was pretty bad at piano once they burned through their handful of “go to” songs, but the guitar was an instrument that just created.

 

I was given every opportunity to find “my instrument” throughout elementary and middle school… saxophone, violin, etc. I just needed to play an instrument, I was told. And I did, with the same enthusiasm and dedication I applied to cleaning my room, doing my homework, and picking up the dog droppings in the back yard. Again, I didn’t dislike it, it was just something that needed to be done before I could carry on with my afternoon.

 

And my playing showed for it. 

 

I finally took guitar lessons at the end of middle school, which was both a huge step up in “cool” factor and a lot more intimidating, as our family trips and typical Sunday background music exposed me to Jeff Beck, Robbin Ford, and Pat Metheney. 

 

Thank you Nirvana for lowering the price of entry to guitar.

 

I had a nylon string Art & Luthrie, a Seagull Acoustic-Electric, and a black Strat from the first year Fender stamped MIM on the headstock, all carefully selected and purchased by my dad to give me every chance to succeed. I also had the benefit of inheriting his castaway gear, and didn’t even have to learn how to use it as I’d generally just leave the settings where he had them.

 

I played in not-so great cover bands, and my dad was there to lug gear, help with sound check, and pretty much do anything he could to undo the suck that my inexperience brought to the table. Even when I failed (and accidentally dropping from 7/8 to 8/8 every chorus is a pretty painful fail) I felt like I won when my dad told me I did a good job.

 

It’s been almost two decades since I moved out, went to school, and followed whatever path it is that brought me here today, and playing music (or hearing music, or talking gear) is one of the most prominent common threads when I list my top ten “best things I’ve done to date”. I wasn’t one of those people born with the need to play music; my dad taught me that music matters.

 

While I’ve played with quite a few great players, it still intimidates me to play alongside my dad. I’ve witnessed the work he put into his playing and know the levels of theory he studied that I shrugged past with Gen-X apathy. If dads aren’t meant to be mountains that inspire us to climb higher all the time, I don’t want to know. 

 

On the night before my wedding, I got to jam with my dad, trading solos pieces over an improvised rhythm section and the occasional noise blast from some circuit-bent instrument or other. It felt like the perfect nightcap to the celebration (my wife celebrating by firing her 357 mag in the lawn shortly thereafter truncated the event). While time and space don’t make it easy, I realize I need to  play with him more often. 

 

I feel blessed to have a dad who taught me the love of music, and I hope to be that dad to my two daughters. Thank you to all the dads out there who support and share a love of music with your children.

 

 

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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