Gina the Guitar was a gateway

Family music time

I really thought I missed my chance to be a music mother. 

I was a music kid. I wasn’t especially good at it, but I really enjoyed it. In my pre-child fantasies, I thought my kids would enjoy it too. Better still, their father has a good instinct for rhythm, although music isn’t in his repertoire. My sunny outlook was further reinforced by the *brtt, brtt, brtt, clash, slam* just barely audible in my backyard when Mt. Lebanon Percussion practiced in the distance. With a program like this, how could we miss? 

Adding music in the home

When I sang the praises of music my older son looked at me, shook his head and went back to his sports. My younger son, Nick, tried several rounds: piano, musical theater, trumpet… There may have been a cello in there, but I can’t even remember. When none of them took and the young men in my house had outgrown childhood, I thought my chance was over. 

Then one day Nick asked me to drive him to Empire Music. It was the miserable middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and I would have taken him anywhere that could possibly make him happy. I didn’t even ask why. As requested, I waited in the car with the windows down and read a book in the fresh air. Roughly 30 minutes later, he walked out with an electric guitar he paid for himself.

In the way of all Moretti men, he did his research before ever bringing it up. He read and watched videos online, but the most important information came over the phone from a man named Joe who was patient with a clueless kid. From the very beginning, Joe treated Nick’s enthusiasm with respect–spending endless hours before and after that first purchase explaining vocabulary, hunting down sales and working to make Nick’s newfound obsession possible.

Nick Moretti, guitarist

That first, basic electric was named Gina. When Nick marched through the living room with her on the first day, my quiet-loving, academic husband looked on in horror. “What was that?!” he asked. I said, “it’s the world’s biggest fidget,” which proved to be true. 

As all the other kids sat bored stiff on Zoom calls, Nick perfected the art of tilting his screen up and his guitar down so that only his chin and face showed as he played six hours a day underneath the camera’s view. He literally played until his fingers bled. Who knew that wasn’t just a lyric?

For the first time in my life our house on Sylvandell Drive was full of music. There were riffs in the hallway as I fell asleep only to wake up to the sound of tentative versions of The Black Crowes and Guns N’ Roses. He tried country and blues because I liked them. He played songs for my birthday. He played artists I never heard of and every wrong note still seemed like harmony to me.

Sharing music while traveling

He planned a side quest for us to the Guns N’ Roses concert at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on a college-tour weekend. My son sat beside me watching the band I’ve loved most in my life and tracked the many different guitars Slash played. (He assures me the cumulative purchase prices would have comfortably paid off our house.) Nick sat with me not only enjoying my music, but really understanding and appreciating it. My heart felt as big as the gargantuan speakers above the stage.  

Nick’s musical fire is one that none of us–mother, teacher, director or instructor–who tried before managed to light. It was fueled by Nick’s hard work, but patiently tended by the kindness of a small business owner who treated a curious teen like a musician. 

Yesterday, Nick texted me the Dean’s List announcement for his fall semester of sophomore year at Manhattan College, where he’s majoring in Sound Studies. He has marvelous faculty and much more complex equipment than he did in the beginning, but I know that the scaffolding under it all are Gina and Joe.

Gina, the gateway

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