From Piano to Guitar

Isabelle Samudio, Reporter

Piano has been my passion ever since I was a child. A moment in a car, years ago, listening to “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, led me to ponder if i could play like McCartney. Years and years of musical instruction and enjoyment followed. Yet even so, there’s always been an underlying desire that I was never truly able to fulfill.

I’ve always wanted to play guitar (especially electric). Guitar had always mystified me – I never understood how people were able to play it. I thought the sounds and melodies produced were truly magical. Only recently have I been able to actually get lessons and in my opinion, it’s both easy and challenging.

It’s easy due to my previous knowledge. I’m already way past a beginner’s level when it comes to reading music. I know what notes go where, and what each symbol means. Yet guitar is much more bizarre. One of the main reasons is that on the piano you use five fingers – yet on guitar you don’t. You use only four, excluding the thumb. That makes it harder for me to grasp the fingerings. For guitar, the pointer finger would be “1” but for piano, the thumb is “1”. The first day of lessons, it only added to my nervousness as I played almost everything wrong.

The way you read notes is truly confusing as well – it’s all backwards. One would assume the top-most string would be represented at the top of the music scale. Yet it’s not; that string represents a note at the bottom due to it being a “lower” note.

Chords are also quite hard to play, unlike on piano. You have to really position your hands in the correct way or it blocks the other strings. Even the thumb, which is not handling any strings, must be held a certain way for certain chords. I have no idea how people switch between chords so quickly – it’s definitely a skill that comes with time.

And the mere action of strumming is completely foreign to me. It’s so weird from going to one day flying across the black and white keys to trying to pick and strum strings. And there are so many concepts I don’t comprehend and things you need that i had never even heard of.

And to me, the role of the guitar is quite different when compared to a piano. A piano, as my guitar teacher said, is almost an entire orchestra on its own. It can play different parts and sound full. Yet guitar usually relies on other instruments and doesn’t really have the “lead” (unless guitar is the only instrument in a song). I’m sure some disagree with my biased view; for all i know I’m completely wrong, i’ve only been exposed to accurately playing guitar for a short amount of time.

My teacher, to my surprise, did the opposite of what I did – guitar to piano. And he too complained – but for all the opposite reasons. It’s quite strange hearing a different point of view on piano – one that states it’s challenging and alien – as I’ve had only piano teachers in the past.