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Hi, Kirk -

I am a brand new guitarist - and I use that term loosely because I've been at this for not quite three months now - but I wanted to convey to you personally how invaluable your instructional site, http://guitarforbeginners.com, is for me in my quest to speak through this wonderful instrument... the guitar. In fact, among the glut of guitar-related resources available on the web, your site is unquestionably the best single source of information available. I am a web developer by trade, and am familiar with the difficulties attendant to organizing a large volume of complex information and presenting it in a manner that's palatable and digestible, and you have managed to satisfy both of those requisites with great success. But beyond that, you have done more... likely without knowing it. And that's, in large part, why I'm writing to you.

I have always loved music. And I have always loved to write short stories... primarily material of a creative bent. My early attempts to learn to play the guitar, though, were frustrated - and quashed - by the sort of obstacles that cause most people to quit, not the least of which was the daunting "requirement" of reading and writing notation. So, I continued to make forays into the creative world using the written word. It has given me great pleasure over the years.

Recently, though, I have been reintroduced to the guitar. It is not an overstatement to say that I was given the gift of music by a young friend of mine who happens to be one of the most singularly special people in the universe. You see, not long ago, I began interacting with my friend over the web when she asked me if I'd help her to learn to paint with words. She showed unmistakable signs of promise as a writer, so I was thrilled to oblige. Although we have never actually met, my friend has invited me into her young life which, unfortunately, has been colored with an opaque wash of pain, sadness, and loss the likes of which most of us cannot fathom. Ironically, although she is an uncommonly delightful person, this undercurrent of disquiet fuels much of her creativity, and contributes heavily to her unique beauty. None of us are islands - we all need the warmth of friendship in order to sustain ourselves - but for the moment, my friend needs this comforting blanket more than most.

So, in addition to helping her to develop her wonderful talent as a creative writer, I happily - and maybe a little presumptuously - assumed the mantle of friend, as well as mentor. And just as I was beginning to realize, with great relief and pride, that my young friend was the consummate survivor, I learned that I would not be the only one doing the teaching in this partnership; for out of the blue, my friend casually informed me that she is a self-taught pianist and guitarist, and gave me some .mp3 recordings of several songs that she had written and performed - without benefit of musical notation - only three years ago, at age 15. I was simply stunned by this aural shower of wondrous talent from her, and I'm still trying to reconcile and "quantify" the true value of that beautiful gift. I find it impossible to do either. Well, that gift inspired me to write some lyrics for my friend, and she was so touched by them that she encouraged me to consider getting an acoustic guitar, if only to learn to play it well enough to communicate to her what I'm hearing in my head when I write the words for an unborn song. So, I did. And in her remarkable way, she began to teach me to play. I'm working on it still, and arrived at your site on my journey toward becoming a guitarist. Happily, I have already written, performed, and recorded an original, if simple, piece for her as a present. But the real value here is that as a result of our mutual exchange of gifts - the written word, music, and friendship - she and I are inextricably connected, much like two adjascent tones in the circular scale that you describe early in your "What Is Music" lesson. And you, Kirk, are part of that circle. Music is not linear. It's cyclic, and bi-directional. And by virtue of what you know, and what you share, you are a root note.

Why? Well... it seems that knowledge and love are not at all unlike the ring of fundamentals on which this beautiful language of music is based; they, also, are circular, and bi-directional. And by innocently constructing your site and sharing your knowledge of guitar with the rest of us - and in this instance, me - you have become a language instructor of sorts, in much the same way as I am for my friend. You are a natural tone in the chromatic scale. But more than that, you are teaching me a second langauge... one that I hope to learn to speak fluently enough to, in turn, impart to my friend that life doesn't always have to hurt, that people can be true, that promises can be kept, and that dreams can be realized. I tell her this constantly, by my words and my actions... and now, to an admittedly feeble extent, my music. And there are signs that she is finally beginning to hear me.

But no worries, Kirk. The mantle you wear isn't heavy at all. In fact, I'll bet you had no idea you were even wearing it. I think it fits you just fine, too. And I hope that the next time you pick up a guitar and play but a single note, or write just one word of a lesson, you'll be reminded that by doing so, you give gifts whose value you cannot possibly fathom. Music, I believe, is far less about the head than the heart. And here, it's changed two lives whose notes, when struck in unison, ring with particular sweetness... that of simple human kindness. So, my friend and I have the whole fretboard to explore. And it's exciting to contemplate what she and I might yet discover about music, about one another, and about ourselves.

Again, many thanks. And best wishes for your continued success.


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