Rock star in the family

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By Susan Konig

We have four kids, so it was bound to happen. Our son is starting a rock band.

He came to me and asked me to get him guitar lessons. He doesn’t know how to play the guitar, but he and a couple of friends are starting their own group. The stars of tomorrow include his friends Jackson and Kelly. Kelly is in charge even though “she’s just the singer.” I’m not sure what Jackson’s job will be.

They are in the second grade.

We own a guitar. It’s a small, wooden folk guitar that’s just the right size for a 7-year-old. Except that, until now, it was always treated as a toy during games of karaoke “American Idol,” or “Let’s Pretend to Be the Beatles.” It has only two of its six strings left and has been banged around a bit, including by our 21-month-old. He smashes it into things as if he’s Pete Townshend from The Who or Bamm-Bamm from “The Flintstones.”

I took guitar lessons briefly when I was about 12. We had a very nice instructor who taught us all to play a song the first day. I thought that was pretty cool. I still remember it. After all these years, fingers remember songs. So I promised the founding member of this second-grade band that I would get the guitar restrung and tuned and that I would teach him a few chords. If he liked it, maybe lessons could be a consideration.

I drive by the local music store all the time and planned to drop it off one day. When my pint-sized musician and I walked in with the poor, wounded instrument, we were met with a wall of really neat-looking electric guitars.

Behind the counter were several young men, all with shaved heads, wearing black T-shirts and biker clothes. They took the guitar and looked at the lines. It wasn’t warped or anything, just a few dings. They told us they could fix it right up in a couple of days. Then they leaned over to see the hopeful rock star.

“He already has a band,” I said.

“What’s it called?” one guy asked.

My son looked at his shoes.

“The Penguins,” he said shyly.

“Cool,” they agreed. He looked up and smiled.

“Maybe this will be the beginning of a really famous band,” another suggested.

My son looked longingly at the sleek, colorful electric guitars, as if he already had a plan.

We picked up his guitar a few days later, and I rummaged through the piano bench to find the teach-yourself-to-play book I’ve had since I was a kid. Within a few minutes, he learned the chords D and A7. The fingering is tough for his small hands, but he likes to practice. And those chords are perfect for playing “Skip to My Lou.”

It’s a start. CD

Susan Konig

Susan Konig is the author of I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family (2007) and Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road and Other Lies I Tell My Children (2006). Visit Konig's Web site at, and on Facebook at