Although I didn’t join the the school orchestra in secondary school (approximately middle school and high school in US?), I continued violin lessons through my secondary school, until I was 19. I often had my violin with me, so that I could go to my teacher’s home after school for lessons.
I recall being scolded by a teacher while I was in grade 8 (or 9…?). She said the violin was too loud, and I shouldn’t be playing in between classes. Of course that didn’t stop me from playing. I just turned my violin sideways, and continued to play by plucking instead of bowing the strings (I also remember doing that in a class grade 7 class when we were given free time to study). Where did I pick up that from?
Seeing me plucking away, my best friend at the time told me he had a guitar sitting in the closet that I could use. And that’s how I got into playing the guitar. I really wanted a steel string guitar at the time. That’s what all the popular songs used. Of course, my friend’s guitar is a classical style, nylon string guitar. I gladly took up the offer anyways. Who can say no to a free guitar? And who knew I would end up studying classical guitar?
It was not terribly difficult to pick up the guitar – playing the violin helped the left hand much. Open chords were easy to pick up, but barred chords were tough. The F chord was a bitch. I was playing a lot of cantopop tunes, J-rock, Brit rock, and American pop/rock. I remember having picked out the intro to a pop song, and immediately asked my parents to listen to me play. They must have thought it was strange? There was no youtube back then, and i would put a mp3 track on repeat to slowly figure out the notes. I also looked up a lot of tabs, and learned that tabs (on anything online) were not to be trusted.
There were a few (rich?) kids one grade higher, and I remember them mocking me as I didn’t know much back them. They were all taking lessons and playing electric guitars for their CP (class performance). How cool was that?! One thing I did learn from them was that many Japanese rock bands released full scores with tabs of their albums. These scores were (they still are) the best thing on earth. Whoever transcribed them note for note are saints. I hope my Luna Sea and L’Arc-en-ciel scores are still at home in HK. And I have just purchased a few X-Japan scores off Ebay.
Speaking of X-Japan… internet hit the household when I was around 16 years old. Those were the days of Geocities, Yahoo mail, Netscape, 14.4K modem (hearing white noise if you picked up the phone), ICQ, Winamp, Xanga. How many of these still exist today? But anyhow, one of the first things I looked up were official websites of my favorite bands, and I remember trying xjapan.com. It brings you to the band’s homepage now, but back then, it would bring you to a naughty site.
(To be continued in How it all started #6)