Music is something I need to survive. Maybe not physically, but mentally for sure. I need to hear it and hum it and feel it. It is nearly constant inside my head even if it is far in the background. Almost like a soundtrack. Sometimes I don't recognize the tunes because they probably don't exist, but mostly it seems familiar.
When I was about 10 years old and in 4th grade I started learning to play trombone and was in school bands for the next six years. I wasn't the best or the worst trombone player in the band, but I enjoyed it mostly. When I was playing in Junior High School we had a band director that always pushed us to compete for a higher chair in our section. I moved up a notch or two, but was never going to make first chair, first trombone (there were third, second, and first trombones and a couple of chairs in each). I was okay with that as I enjoyed playing. The director still pushed us anyway when he wasn't busy yelling at the band for other things. I started to resent all the pressure and yelling and it took the enjoyment out of it for me. I hated to disappoint my parents, but eventually I just couldn't take it anymore and quit.
Fortunately, I had taken up guitar a couple of years earlier with a $30 Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar. It wasn't much of a guitar, but I slowly taught myself a few things with the aid of a couple of Mel Bay guitar books. After I quit trombone I still had a way to make some pretty sounds. The guitar started to fall apart, but my father could see I had a real interest in continuing to play. Even though he occasionally said, as do many parents, "How can you listen to that crap?" he still encouraged me to play. At least he didn't say, "Stop making that racket."
In 1966 he took me to the local musical instrument store and let me pick out the guitar I wanted. I had to have a twelve string because that's what the Byrds and some other folk rock bands played. I had to choose between the Gibson and the Framus. I played both and the Framus sounded better to my ear. They were within $10 of each other in price.
Here it is today.
I loved that guitar and kept learning more stuff, usually playing by ear while listening to the radio. Eventually I could play along with a fair amount of popular songs. I took the guitar to college where I met my best friend Mark who also played. We played together, even in front of audiences (where I am never comfortable) and usually just for ourselves until Mark died in 1995.
When Mark and I were roommates back in the late 70s I went with him to the Homestead Pickin' Parlor where we often shopped for records, music, and instrument accessories. He had saved his money and bought a new 1974 Martin 000-28 which was a sweet sounding guitar. When Eric Clapton went acoustic many years later that was the exact year and model he recorded with. Mark was way ahead of Clapton.
Mark played that guitar for our wedding when the Cooker and I got married and again at another close friend's wedding. When he died he left it to me and I have loved and played and cared for it ever since. I played it at a friend's wedding a few years ago to keep going with the tradition. It needs a new pickguard which I will get for it when I ever get to the Twin Cities again. There is a highly respected luthier there who will do the replacement.
The quality of my playing is a lot like the trombone. I'll never be really good, but I'm good enough for me and I still enjoy the hell out of playing. I doubt that will ever change.