Enhancing my rockstar life

My journey with falling in and out of love with my guitar

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My parents sneaked a picture as I tested guitars in a music store this past summer, hoping to find my next obsession.

Jiya Singh

As the stage lights brightened and the stomping grew louder, the audience began chanting the band’s name, over and over — “Lemonade Mouth! Lemonade Mouth! Lemonade Mouth!”

As fifth grade me watched five high schoolers form a band in detention in the Disney Channel movie “Lemonade Mouth,” I knew exactly what I had to do.

I desperately wanted to be a rockstar like the five musicians in the movie. However, years of attempting to play the piano through YouTube tutorials wouldn’t suffice if I truly wanted to form my own band. So I decided it was time that I learn a new instrument, one that I never thought I would be able to play — the guitar.

After months of begging my mom for guitar lessons, I finally got an old, banged up acoustic guitar and one-on-one weekly classes. However, as it turns out, watching the musicians from “Lemonade Mouth” is completely different from being them — I felt overwhelmed by the notes and chords that I had never heard of before.

Yet slowly, I began to fall in love with it. Those weekly Wednesday lessons that I once used to be so intimidated by became the highlight of my week. I finally had someone to talk to about my favorite songs and new albums. In fact, when my teacher told me I looked like a rockstar when I showed up to my guitar lesson wearing my new Pink Floyd shirt and rainbow guitar strap, it was like I’d achieved my fifth grade dream right then and there.

My first performance onstage was in seventh grade, to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran.

My guitar also became my safe haven. Every time I was bored or upset, I had the world’s disposal of music at my fingertips. Crying in my bed was replaced with the ritual of plugging in my amplifier and headphones, and playing the guitar solo from “Hotel California.”

But unfortunately, entering high school forced me into a new world of harder tests and assignments that I couldn’t just shove away in favor of playing my guitar. Before I knew it, I started dreading those Wednesday lessons that I used to look forward to all week — those hours that I once spent in my own little world, strumming away, turned into 30 minutes before the start of my class, desperately trying to memorize my piece.

As much as I tried, I could not handle doing everything at once. And thus, the start of junior year led to the beginning of many things — sleepless nights, decreasing grades, harder classes — and the end of another — my guitar lessons. 

It was the weirdest feeling in the world. As much as I resisted quitting lessons, once I quit, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had more time on Wednesdays, which were to be filled with more homework and studying, obviously. 

It was like a little part of myself had gotten lost in those strings that I could never get back until I strummed them again.”

— Jiya Singh

But I felt so guilty looking at my guitar sitting in the corner of my room, unplayed, untouched and unloved. It was like a little part of myself had gotten lost in those strings that I could never get back until I strummed them again.

Just as I thought that quitting lessons would give me so much more time to study and pull my grades back up, they began to tumble down again. One day, I raced into my room and jumped under the covers, crying about yet another Biology test. “How could I be so dumb?” I asked myself, over and over again, hoping that things could finally change.

As these thoughts continued, my eyes drifted over to my guitars in the corner of my room. Filled with dust between the frets, my guitars made me cry even harder as I remembered the joy I felt when my family surprised me with that electric guitar on my 13th birthday, or when I bought the rainbow guitar strap in sixth grade. Grabbing a damp paper towel, I slowly began to clean my guitars, feeling their cold wooden touch against my fingers again.

And all at once, I found myself beginning to play that same “Hotel California” solo. Despite being one of the hardest solos I’d ever had to learn and memorize, my fingers moved straight up and down the neck of my guitar, playing each note from muscle memory.

I realized that although I might not be the best at transcribing mRNA, I had other skills — like the ability to transport myself into a new world every time I was with my best friend, my guitar. 

Maybe my capacity to succeed in school and the tranquility I found through music didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Maybe I didn’t have to watch my guitars pile up with dust in order to get an “A” in biology. And maybe I could use my guitar to release all stress from my academic failures to achieve the true best of both worlds, like a certain band of five musicians I know really well.

Because hey, isn’t that what the rockstar life is all about?