I've been intending for a while to do some pages about my guitars and my experience of guitar as a female tradition -- you can read about the latter further down this page, and here are the other guitar pages I've gotten to so far:
And these are my other guitars, which will hopefully soon be getting their own pages:
My experience of guitar as a female tradition
"My first guitar teacher was a woman. That just seemed the normal thing to do -- eat, sleep, and play music. I'd run home from school every day and play my guitar. That wasn't unusual in my mind." - Muriel Anderson
I was born in 1961, and by the late '60's was inhabiting two mutually-exclusive worlds of guitars and music.
One of these was the television world of Saturday-morning cartoons (and some live-action shows like the Monkees). Being as it was, yes, the late '60's, a large percentage of cartoon characters were in bands, and even the ones that weren't would sometimes find themselves performing some kind of pop/rock song to add youth appeal or fill time. In this world guitars might be played by (in addition to ordinary humans) cartoon animals, monsters, or people in fursuits, but the one thing that they did have in common was that the guitarists were always male. However, as television was just like that, full of shows where the main character was always male and women were only there to admire them or be rescued, this was not something to be taken seriously.
Then there was the real world, where in my single-digit-age experience guitars were played exclusively by women, for example grade-school teachers, girl-scout-camp counselors, and young girls -- I remember a sleepover at a friend's apartment (where have you gone, Julie Sackett?) where we all took turns strumming her guitar strings while she fingered the chords to songs like "Today" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane".
My first guitar was a garage-sale Yamaha acoustic I had received for either my tenth birthday or for Christmas a couple weeks earlier. (Unfortunately I no longer have it, many years back having loaned it to a coworker who I then lost touch with.) As I shall elaborate more upon here later, in my experience having and playing a guitar was one of those ordinary things girls did in that time and place, like being in Girl Scouts.
At the time PBS started rerunning episodes of a beginning-guitar program -- each week the female host demonstrated a new chord and one or more simple folk songs featuring it to play along with. I learned all the easy open major, minor, and seventh chords this way, and also from a Mel Bay book of chords which I still have, but was very resistant to playing any barre chords.
I noticed that my mother's books of popular songs for piano also had guitar chords, so I enjoyed playing and singing some of those songs as well. I had a feel for the way the circle of fifths worked without knowing what it was, so it was easy for me to transpose songs into ranges that worked better for my voice, and for that matter with so many folk and rock songs not using much more than the I-IV-V chord progression anyway, it was also easy to play an awful lot of songs by ear.
I was too bullied and too shy in junior high and high school to ever perform as yet another girl-with-guitar act at school talent shows, but would sometimes get together with friends to all strum and sing along together -- I remember one time at Anne's house where she and I and Karen and Marla were all playing and singing songs like "Lola" and "Killing Me Softly" together.
* * * to be continued * * *
Some links I've planned to include in one place or another
Guts & Glitter - The Digital Magazine for Girl Rockers! is a collaboration between Daisy Rock Girl Guitars and Guitar Player Magazine -- "This first issue is a tribute to 20 extraordinary female guitarists, from veterans such as Lisa Loeb, Vicki Peterson, and Ani DiFranco to newly discovered talent such as Orianthi, Arielle, and Kaki King. You'll get a first-hand glimpse at how these incredible women are pioneers in the Girl Guitar Revolution and how they are making their voices heard in the music industry and all over the world."
ROCKRGRL, the magazine for women musicians, featuring "no beauty tips or guilt trips", is sadly no longer being published, but still worth reading about.
Indiegrrl started in May of 1998 as a mailing-list "forum for information, networking and conversation about independent music from a female perspective" and has grown to put on events, concerts, tours, contests, compilation CDs, and even start its own indie record label. The mailing list is amazing -- female indie musicians of all genres and levels of experience discussing every concern of working musicians in a very high-volume (no pun intended :-)) list.
Peggy Seeger's writeup about her A Feminist View Of Anglo-American Traditional Songs workshop
Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls and its wonderful companion book Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls: How to Start a Band, Write Songs, Record an Album, and Rock Out!.
Del Rey's Women with Guitar photographic, text, and video exhibit of some popular and influential women guitarists from 1900-1950.
Patty Larkin's La Guitara project is a tour, CD, and writings showcasing "the contribution of women to the history of modern guitar". You can also see Acoustic Guitar Magazine's interview with La Guitara participants Larkin, Kaki King, Muriel Anderson, and Mimi Fox.
Wikipedia's Female guitarists category (you need to click the subcategories to see most of the links).
Daisy Rock Guitars, "the Girl Guitar Company - Doing whatever it takes to help girls play guitar and enjoy music!".
More coming soon ...
As a resident of Santa Cruz, California, what I'm interested in here are links that can help aspiring (or perspiring :-)) guitarists find ways to participate in our local music scenes/communities. If you know of any other links that you think would be useful for in that vein, please email me.
Here's a calendar of some local jam sessions and open mics that welcome guitarists. You can also read about them in the sections (Celtic, jazz, etc.) below.
Celtic Slow Sessions
Poet and Patriot Irish jam
Celtic Music Nights
2nd-Friday Aptos sessions
Want faster Celtic sessions?
English Country Dances band
King Street Sessions Tunebook
Ocean View Park jam
Mountain Music JamShops
Fairy-Tale Farm events
There's a fair amount of overlap between folk and the bluegrass/old-time section above, but I thought I'd add a folk-specific section anyway, and hope to find more jams and other events to include in it!
Rise Up Singing
Circle of Life events
Jazz Society jam session
Bocci's Cellar jazz jam
Jazz Jam Santa Cruz
Fog Bank Blues Pro Jam
Jerry's Front Pocket
Sons of the Beach
First Tuesday Ukulele and Other Instrument Club
All in Good Time Orchestra
Gospel Uke/Matthew, Mark, Uke, and John has a 10am Sunday gospel strum/ singalong once a month or so at Frederick Street Park -- check the Ukelist Calendar for updates.
Rock, Classical, Mariachi, etc.
I wish I knew about any local jam sessions in these and other musical genres/styles! If there are any that you know of, please send me email about it.
Cabrillo College offers extremely- low-cost group learning classes in many styles and levels of both solo and ensemble guitar playing -- jazz, pop, rock, classical, Latin American music, plus music theory of course.
The Coursera learning site offers free online classes in guitar, songwriting, music history, recording, production, and so on, taught by instructors from the Berklee School of Music and other top institutions.
While people of all ages are definitely welcome and appreciated at the sessions and classes above, there are some fabulous youth-specific learning and playing opportunities in Santa Cruz as well:
Free music lessons
Be In Your Own Band classes
Summer Jazz Camp
Music Together's 4th Friday Family Music Jam
Poet and Patriot open mic
SubRosa open mic
Rosie McCann's open mic
The Abbey open mic
UCSC open mics
And the other UCSC's open mics
The Santa Cruz Underground Music collective has long lists of local bands, venues and upcoming shows, and is "... in the process of establishing easy access to local resources. Our goal is provide YOU the tools and the means to organize and publicize your OWN shows. We are currently collecting the necessary information to make future shows a snap to organize." Right now all the action is on their Wiki site rather than their original site.
Not in Santa Cruz?
Alas, do you live too far away to come jam with us? Check out these two great sites for finding all kinds of jam sessions and musicians local to you (or in places you'll be visiting or traveling through), or organizing and publicizing your own sessions: "folkjam" and "The Session".