I studied classical guitar as a kid, between 1978 and 1982, but I was never especially good at it. I quit when I changed schools and forgot pretty much everything about it, including my rudimentary ability to read music.
A few years later I discovered a talent for the drums, and with my then-roommate Sebastien learned to play classic sixties garage rock. By the end of the 1980s we'd formed a band and played our first gig. Twenty years later, he and I are still in The Neurotics together, playing many of those same songs.
I don't play as often as I used to, because my cancer and the associated medication side effects make me weak and unreliable, but the group is kind enough to let me sit in when I can, alternating with Christian on drums and percussion on nights I can make it out. This upcoming weekend, I plan to play yet another show, but in addition to drums, percussion, and vocals, I'll be trying my hand at electric guitar for a good chunk of the set—the first time I've done that live onstage in any serious way for many years.
Of course I resumed playing guitar a long time ago, not long after we started that first garage band in 1989, and I've even recorded a whole album of guitar-based instrumentals, derived from my irregular podcast. But that was by myself, in the basement, where I could fix my mistakes. Live, in front of an audience, I don't get that chance.
So I'm spending some time re-learning all those songs I've known for decades, but this time I have to know what key they're in and what the chords are. My fingers are a little sore from the practice, but one other advantage is that I'll know a bunch of tunes I can teach my youngest daughter, who says she's ready to start playing the guitar I bought her a few years ago. She's nine, the same age I was in 1978.