Why I teach my grandkids to play the guitar?

Born within our grandchildren is a little bit of their parents. A certain amount of their four grandparents, and a sprinkling of their great grandparents. This smorgasbord of genes making them who they are.

As their grandmother I watch the antics of these little grand boys. Chuckling at the resemblances emerging over the years.

  • Listening for abilities and gifts, even encouraging the tiny familiar idiosyncrasies I found in myself.
  • Will the grand boys be skilled sportsmen as their father and grandfather and great grandfather were?
  • Will they have a quick wit?
  • Will the gift of music blossom… Oh I hoped so.

Listening one day to my youngest grand boy singing his little heart out, I was encouraged.

Has the gene from my dad been inherited?

When ever I brought out the various musical instruments I had played as a child, my youngest grand boy’s eyes lit up.

  • The gift, the gift! Has he inherited the gift of music?
  • Will he sing like a bellbird, accompanying himself on an instrument?
  • I birth elation.

Me, his grandma dreamed her dreams, unashamedly.
It isn’t long before small guitars and tiny keyboards are in their home.  The old ukulele I was given by my parents when I was six or seven, stripped down, revarnished by my Dad, is introduced to them one day. The grand boys strummed their chord less songs on the four strings.

Also the squeaky school recorders squealed when  grandma arrived another time for  a weekend visit. Their parents run and hide.

A gift of mouth organs were given upon returning from a European cruise. Possibly never to be seen again, to be lost in the box of toys after grandma returns home. I’m not to know the truth.

Yet, when-ever grandma arrives to visit, these instruments appear from under the bed and from the back of the cupboards. The dust is brushed away, and we begin to play.

The sing a longs with Grandma are enthusiastic.

The younger grand son continues singing like a bellbird, and grows another year older. His small fingers begin to reach around the neck of his guitar, as he persists.

  • Believing grandma when she speaks of his gift.
  •  Desiring to be the musician she believes he is becoming.

On grandma’s ipad using a recording app, we recorded his songs. Creating a four track recording with his unique hip hop song, creating an offbeat rhythm on the keyboard, and accompanying himself on a guitar he can’t yet play. But it rocked!

A few days ago Grandma arrives with another guitar – there’s now a guitar for both grandsons. Needed as the older grandson is learning chords at school – so he has told me.

Now with two chords of grandma’s under their belts, (D and A), and guitars not in perfect tune, we record lesson one on video.

These boys –  My child prodigies, – with musical genes birthing and growing as they have turned ten and twelve. They strum along. Changing chords when I tell them to. Keeping the rhythms to a song in their heads. Priceless!

  • As their Grandma, I’m ecstatic.
  • Proud.
  • Enthused  – highly motivated to buy them a tuner to fine tune their strings. And replacement guitar strings for the inevitable break.


They are unlikely to become Elvis, or The Bee Gees. Or who ever is the current Justin Beiber of their generation.

But, if a percentage of music ability stays with them throughout their lives, they will enjoy their leisure hours, strumming and singing with their mates.

Why do I teach my grandchildren to play their guitars?

This is why.

And also to relive my own childhood.

  • Being a family of five who formed a family musical band – the Powell Quintett.
  • Winners of country talent quests.
  • Playing at country halls celebrating New Year’s Eve and family 21sts.

I sat goggle eyed as our parents sang together.

  • Amazed when my Dad sang and yoddled, accompanying himself on any one of our instruments.
  • Singing the ballad of old Peg Leg Jack – eventually Dad struggled to remember the last verses in his latter years.

Yes, this is why I teach my grandchildren the guitar.


What do you do now you are retired?

For a number of years my hubby and I have enjoyed retirement. 

We share the house, including the kitchen – he prepares many meals while I finish something I’m busy at. 

He makes the morning cappuccino while I hang out the washing.

He snoozes  while I laze in the hot tub (spa).

Seven years ago we downsized. We bought a caravan and good towing vehicle, intending to join the grey nomads travelling around Australia. Fitting in the occasional cruise with the cruising nomads. Filling our days at our retirement village -where life is relaxed, relatively stress free, and where friendships blossom easily.

Today over a two hour coffee visit with friends within our village, Karen and I chatted about people’s perceptions. 

I mean family and friends perceptions of early retirees (in their fifties and early sixties) selling up their large homes to downsize and enjoy life without the stress of ongoing financial goals. She and her hubby, like me and mine, chose to  get off the band wagon and experience the other side of life – that of retirement- earlier than most.

Funny thing is, when questioned by others about our B.R. lives (before retirement), other people look at us blankly – as if we are from another planet.

“You don’t work? Then what do you do every day?” It’s obvious that adults are judged by their occupations and career paths. When you no longer label yourself as what your working life occupation was, we find most people are unable to continue the conversation.

That was until I began writing. 

“What do you do?” They ask.

“I’m an author,” I reply, and notice their eyes light up with interest. 

Now, why is that? Maybe most people haven’t met an author before. And it’s a big thing to do so?  Or, is it that the grey oldie who they are talking to can now be put into a category… Fitting into what is considered normal.

As for many, retirement means the end of your days, and for some, health challenges – as to retire early is an uncomfortable situation to contemplate. Reminds me of that TV programme, named; ‘Waiting on God’. 

Is that what most younger people imagine we retirees are doing? Waiting out our final years and days? Scary thought.

But for many, like Karen and myself, retirement is the best years of our lives in many aspects. As we have freedom each and everyday to do as we choose. Didn’t have that bringing up our kids, nor working our careers, or even as children.

Most days these days, I choose to write. And write I do. And also engaging in social media, learning about writing, meeting fellow authors, and building social media friendships. All in the name of ‘being an author.’ 

Love it.


If I was to make a 20 second speech, what would I say?

Life is precious. 

Treasure the people in your life. 

Treasure those who love you and call you a friend. 

As life is fleeting. 

One minute the precious lives around you are with you. 

And a second later everything changes. 

Don’t waste a second.

Live and love abundantly.

Time Markers- an excellent lesson learnt from author Mary Carroll Moore

Time Markers: How to Keep a Reader on Track with Your Story , by Mary Carroll Moore 

A few months ago, I began exchanging chapters with a writer who has an incredible skill with something called “time markers.” I feel very lucky to have her reading my chapters with time in mind. She has caught my natural sloppiness the way a good editor might, saving me and my reader from going off track and losing the story thread.
Are you aware of time markers in your story? They’re vital in fiction and memoir, even in nonfiction. They’re the little mentions of where we are in place, time of day, day of the week, even season, so that readers slide effortlessly through the sequence of events.
Many professional writers use timeline charts as part of their storyboarding or outlining process. They take each person in the story, for instance, and write a timeline of their events in sequence. What time of year it happens (season), then what day, then what time of day. It seems nit-picky when you’re in early drafts, and I don’t usually pay much attention at that stage, but in later revision it’s essential.  
A timeline chart might be as simple as the character’s name, the scene, and three columns for (1) season, (2) day of the week, and (3) time of day. If events are hourly in your book, if they are even day after day, your total timeline might span a week or a month or a year. But if you are covering huge swatches of time, you’ll really need this kind of time marking for yourself, so you know if three years have passed or a decade.
Once you have your timeline chart in place, there’s a great sense of relief. At least for me. But then, as we write, we often lose track of the chart and move time all over the place. A scene starts out in daylight then suddenly there’s a point where something is discovered by flashlight. Unless there’s a time marker, showing that we’ve moved into nighttime, the reader will stop, possibly go back and reread (never a good thing), or put down the book altogether.
I know this happens to me a lot. I have my timeline chart but as I move into later drafts, I ignore it. Hence, the need for readers to catch this–if I can’t do it myself.
Time markers can be obvious or subtle. Obvious time markers might be “Three days had passed with no word from Ella” or “Had it only been yesterday?” Clunky when you’re writing them, but an instant relief for your reader. Now we know if the previous chapter happened two days or a week ago.
Subtler time markers include a sense of changing light in a room or space, the beginning of darkness outside and need for man-made light, how a person is dressed (which can show time of day or season), sleep and waking moments, and much more.
Stuff like this is tedious to keep track of. Most writers dislike it and ignore it. But nothing stumbles a reader faster.  

Challenging Moral Beliefs – guest blog by -writershelpingwriters.net

Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

Posted on May 28, 2016 by Angela Ackerman

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

But how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!

YOUR TURN: Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thought

Originally posted at IWSG


10 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs Flaws

In “Character Flaws”

Will Readers Find Your Protagonist Worthy?

In “Character Traits”

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

In “Balance”

– See more at: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2016/05/deepen-character-readers-challenging-moral-beliefs/#.dpuf