The benefit of guitar for others to YOU

bigbean

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Posts
1,915
Location
Hartville OH
Eighteen months ago I was asked to do a guitar instruction class at an addiction clinic that was going to be opened. Along with some others we got some student instruments, stands, tuners etc. and every Friday at two o'clock I began teaching the class. When I'm not available I've arranged for a friend who teaches to cover my class and except for three weeks around Christmas the class has been rolling on.

I thought I was doing this volunteer work to help them but I have learned that I am helping me.

This program is not a court ordered 28 day type of thing. Most of the people I see have been through that sort of program and failed recovery later. My exposure to the men is after their first month until their completion of their fourth month. I see a group of four or five every other week. Sometimes men in phase three will stop in if they are available when I am there. The schedule of events for these fellows allows free time every day with access to quiet spaces that could be used for practice. Obviously, unless the student becomes devoted to the task, a beginner is only going to barely get started on the journey of playing guitar with a lesson every other week for three months. After the first year I adjusted the goals and the program to take all of this into account. We now have added a left handed guitar and a bass with a small amp to the inventory of instruments available for the people. Right now I have a student who is becoming a bass player.

The part of this that was so shocking to me is that facing these men from different back rounds and in the middle of different struggles every other week is an utterly amazing experience. In most classes I have a mixture of people who have just completed one month and some who are nearing the end of phase two. The combined effect of no substances, adequate sleep, quality food, a low stress environment and structured individual support is astounding.

Most after thirty days are still struggling physically and their nervous system isn't working right. The are obviously holding onto their old "pre treatment " persona and approaching every situation through the lens of an addict in some stage of a very difficult life. At about six to eight weeks something big happens and they start changing back into whoever they were before addiction. This change is so profound that it is stunning to see. It's not just physical. It is a total transformation of where the see themselves in this world. Part of my amazement is that this change is so regular and similar no matter what the age, race or family back round. It doesn't matter if prior to being at the clinic they were sleeping under a bridge, in prison or running a small busines having a house and family.

Being some small part of that change and a witness to it is more valuable than I ever imagined.

All it costs me is a couple of student guitars, some accessories and an hour and half a week.

Of course, not all of them make it that far. Some sign themselves out, some are let go for violations of conduct. For those that remain in the program the process and progress seems to me to be very predictable. Addiction is a tough and persistent condition and in the long term many will struggle and relapse. But even among those who do, some will return to a drug and alcohol free life.

Maybe having the ability to play some guitar will help.
 

wulfenganck

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Posts
1,617
Location
Seligenstadt, Germany
This is really a good thing to do and you can be proud of yourself.
I'm working with people with addiction backgrounds quite often in my job and it can be tough sometimes due to the high rate of relapse (and of course the sometimes desastrous circumstances like health, housing, debts etc.). But it's especially rewarding if they're able to pull themselves out of it.
Giving people struggling with a longterm addiction something "normal" like learning guitar not only helps to maintain a certain structure throughout the day, it also means giving some respect, because it's just something common and normal.
Yes, you're the man!
 

bigbean

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Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Posts
1,915
Location
Hartville OH
One of the tells that this was very important to some of the men in the program was early on when one of the men had finished his time at the facility. He arranged to have his wife come to pick him up at a time when the lesson was over.
 
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bigbean

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Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Posts
1,915
Location
Hartville OH
If anyone out there in TDRI land wants to start doing something like this IM me and I'll send you the sort of powerpoint program (just a collection of JPEGs) that I use every week. I've found that the students respond better to the visuals presented on a screen than they do to printed hand outs. As I became more informed about how what I'm doing fits into the broader program I refined the presentation a lot.
 
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telemnemonics

Telefied
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Joined
Mar 2, 2010
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Wonderful great stuff!

(when I went to rehab in 1997 to get off dope I had lost all my guitars but found an old silvertone acoustic in the trash with the neck broken off, glued it back together but it was missing a tuner so it was Keefy. The rehab took it away from me because it was potentially a weapon. Keefy again!)

Give a junkie a guitar and he can create his own self worth!
 

pixeljammer

Tele-Afflicted
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Joined
Aug 25, 2010
Posts
1,094
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55
Location
Colorado
Eighteen months ago I was asked to do a guitar instruction class at an addiction clinic that was going to be opened. Along with some others we got some student instruments, stands, tuners etc. and every Friday at two o'clock I began teaching the class. When I'm not available I've arranged for a friend who teaches to cover my class and except for three weeks around Christmas the class has been rolling on.

I thought I was doing this volunteer work to help them but I have learned that I am helping me.

This program is not a court ordered 28 day type of thing. Most of the people I see have been through that sort of program and failed recovery later. My exposure to the men is after their first month until their completion of their fourth month. I see a group of four or five every other week. Sometimes men in phase three will stop in if they are available when I am there. The schedule of events for these fellows allows free time every day with access to quiet spaces that could be used for practice. Obviously, unless the student becomes devoted to the task, a beginner is only going to barely get started on the journey of playing guitar with a lesson every other week for three months. After the first year I adjusted the goals and the program to take all of this into account. We now have added a left handed guitar and a bass with a small amp to the inventory of instruments available for the people. Right now I have a student who is becoming a bass player.

The part of this that was so shocking to me is that facing these men from different back rounds and in the middle of different struggles every other week is an utterly amazing experience. In most classes I have a mixture of people who have just completed one month and some who are nearing the end of phase two. The combined effect of no substances, adequate sleep, quality food, a low stress environment and structured individual support is astounding.

Most after thirty days are still struggling physically and their nervous system isn't working right. The are obviously holding onto their old "pre treatment " persona and approaching every situation through the lens of an addict in some stage of a very difficult life. At about six to eight weeks something big happens and they start changing back into whoever they were before addiction. This change is so profound that it is stunning to see. It's not just physical. It is a total transformation of where the see themselves in this world. Part of my amazement is that this change is so regular and similar no matter what the age, race or family back round. It doesn't matter if prior to being at the clinic they were sleeping under a bridge, in prison or running a small busines having a house and family.

Being some small part of that change and a witness to it is more valuable than I ever imagined.

All it costs me is a couple of student guitars, some accessories and an hour and half a week.

Of course, not all of them make it that far. Some sign themselves out, some are let go for violations of conduct. For those that remain in the program the process and progress seems to me to be very predictable. Addiction is a tough and persistent condition and in the long term many will struggle and relapse. But even among those who do, some will return to a drug and alcohol free life.

Maybe having the ability to play some guitar will help.
Man, it is righteous people like you that make the dang world go ‘round the right way. Thank you for all that you do, and your lovely humble attitude. If you’re ever in Colorado, look me up and I’ll take you out to dinner.
I read your post to my supremely cranky spouse, and her eyes welled up, and she said
“Maybe everybody doesn’t suck sometimes.” Right on.
 

Wound_Up

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Posts
1,256
Age
41
Location
Shreveport, LA
Eighteen months ago I was asked to do a guitar instruction class at an addiction clinic that was going to be opened. Along with some others we got some student instruments, stands, tuners etc. and every Friday at two o'clock I began teaching the class. When I'm not available I've arranged for a friend who teaches to cover my class and except for three weeks around Christmas the class has been rolling on.

I thought I was doing this volunteer work to help them but I have learned that I am helping me.

This program is not a court ordered 28 day type of thing. Most of the people I see have been through that sort of program and failed recovery later. My exposure to the men is after their first month until their completion of their fourth month. I see a group of four or five every other week. Sometimes men in phase three will stop in if they are available when I am there. The schedule of events for these fellows allows free time every day with access to quiet spaces that could be used for practice. Obviously, unless the student becomes devoted to the task, a beginner is only going to barely get started on the journey of playing guitar with a lesson every other week for three months. After the first year I adjusted the goals and the program to take all of this into account. We now have added a left handed guitar and a bass with a small amp to the inventory of instruments available for the people. Right now I have a student who is becoming a bass player.

The part of this that was so shocking to me is that facing these men from different back rounds and in the middle of different struggles every other week is an utterly amazing experience. In most classes I have a mixture of people who have just completed one month and some who are nearing the end of phase two. The combined effect of no substances, adequate sleep, quality food, a low stress environment and structured individual support is astounding.

Most after thirty days are still struggling physically and their nervous system isn't working right. The are obviously holding onto their old "pre treatment " persona and approaching every situation through the lens of an addict in some stage of a very difficult life. At about six to eight weeks something big happens and they start changing back into whoever they were before addiction. This change is so profound that it is stunning to see. It's not just physical. It is a total transformation of where the see themselves in this world. Part of my amazement is that this change is so regular and similar no matter what the age, race or family back round. It doesn't matter if prior to being at the clinic they were sleeping under a bridge, in prison or running a small busines having a house and family.

Being some small part of that change and a witness to it is more valuable than I ever imagined.

All it costs me is a couple of student guitars, some accessories and an hour and half a week.

Of course, not all of them make it that far. Some sign themselves out, some are let go for violations of conduct. For those that remain in the program the process and progress seems to me to be very predictable. Addiction is a tough and persistent condition and in the long term many will struggle and relapse. But even among those who do, some will return to a drug and alcohol free life.

Maybe having the ability to play some guitar will help.

As a recovering addict, I just want to say

THANK YOU.

For me, learning/teaching myself to play was one of the best decisions I've ever made. For the first few months, I could go days & weeks without playing. Today, after 2 yrs and 8 months, I literally can't stop. I've played at least one of my guitars every single day for close to 2 yrs straight at this point. Most days, I play all of my guitars lol. It's only because I'm in recovery that I'm able to even buy guitars.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I'd own 4 guitars and 4 amplifiers one day. And 38 pedals lol. Considering where I was, that's a hell of an accomplishment. I can honestly say that I'll be a guitar player for the rest of my life.

I should've been one long before Dec 2019, TBH. It's clear to me now that it's something that's always been there. It's why I was always into music WAYYYYYY more than any of my friends. I mean, yea I've wanted to learn to play since I was a kid and my parents bought me a couple of toy guitars. I just never realized it was going to get this serious lol

How serious? I've tried to take breaks from playing and I can't. Literally can't. Even when I had soreness in my fretting wrist and some swelling, I still couldn't stop playing. I just played through it lol. It wasn't that bad. Just a little sore. I tried to give it a rest but never could get even 1 day in. I'd pick one up and grab a slide and think "OK I'll just play slide. That'll be OK" and inevitably I'm fretting notes within mins lol

Sorry for getting so off-topic. Thanks for letting me share. I went through an in-patient drug rehab around 2003 or 2004 that was structured pretty similarly to what you've described. It sucked but it was better than the other alternative: jail. We didn't have guitar class, though. I sure wish we would have, though!
 

bigbean

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Posts
1,915
Location
Hartville OH
Joe_Pass_(jazz).jpg
Jazz great and Grammy winning guitarist Joe Pass had a life threatening struggle with addiction and was helped by a timely gift from a stranger.

You could be that stranger for someone else.

Excerpts on the life of Joe Pass:

Joe Pass is of an Italian descent. Born Joseph Anthony Jacobi Passalaqua on January 13, 1929, in New Brunswick, New Jersey,
he was the oldest son of Mariano Passalaqua – steel mill worker that immigrated from Sicily, Italy

One thing led to another and Joe Pass was eventually arrested for drug possession in 1954 and was sent to Fort Worth,
Texas to the US Public Health Service Hospital where he spent four years. After release he resumed his former lifestyle.

The next 15 years were the darkest period of his life.
“From about 1949 to the end of 1960, I spent most of my
time in the intercises of society. I lived in the cracks.”

“In New Orleans I had a kind of nervous breakdown because
I had access to every kind of drug there and was up for
days,” he told Palmer. “I would always hock my guitar.”

“In 1960, he stood on the
steps of Synanon’s Santa Monica drug rehabilitation center
holding a gunnysack full of onions, the only thing he owned.

No guitar. No money. No future. No hope. A sack full of
dusty onions and a broken life.”

“A lot of kids think that in order to be a guitarist they’ve
gotta go out and be a junkie for ten years, and that’s just
not true,” Pass told Underwood. “I can’t credit any of that
time saying that was when I really learned. I spent most of
those years just being a bum, doing nothing. It was a great
waste of time. I could have been doing then a lot of things
I’m doing now. (1976) Only I had failed to grow up.”

“I was playing a gig at a local club with it when this guy named
Mike Peak came in and saw me playing jazz with a rock
guitar. A few months later, on my birthday, I came home
and there was this brand new (Gibson) ES-175 that he had
bought for me. He was in the construction business and
played a little guitar himself and just felt that I should have
the proper kind of instrument. It’s the only electric I’ve used
since then.”


I read somewhere else that Mike Peak was not a wealthy man at that time he made the gift. He set aside enough money to buy the guitar but he didn't have enough for the case. He delivered the guitar by taking a bus to the halfway house where Joe was staying and brought it to the front door in a paper bag.
 

RodeoTex

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Sep 14, 2005
Posts
12,198
Location
Uvalde, Tx
Way cool what you are doing.
Guitar has been the best therapy for me during some of the hardest times of my life.
If you need any gear please PM me. I may be able to help.
 

Kandinskyesque

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Posts
1,739
Location
Scotland
Eighteen months ago I was asked to do a guitar instruction class at an addiction clinic that was going to be opened. Along with some others we got some student instruments, stands, tuners etc. and every Friday at two o'clock I began teaching the class. When I'm not available I've arranged for a friend who teaches to cover my class and except for three weeks around Christmas the class has been rolling on.

I thought I was doing this volunteer work to help them but I have learned that I am helping me.

This program is not a court ordered 28 day type of thing. Most of the people I see have been through that sort of program and failed recovery later. My exposure to the men is after their first month until their completion of their fourth month. I see a group of four or five every other week. Sometimes men in phase three will stop in if they are available when I am there. The schedule of events for these fellows allows free time every day with access to quiet spaces that could be used for practice. Obviously, unless the student becomes devoted to the task, a beginner is only going to barely get started on the journey of playing guitar with a lesson every other week for three months. After the first year I adjusted the goals and the program to take all of this into account. We now have added a left handed guitar and a bass with a small amp to the inventory of instruments available for the people. Right now I have a student who is becoming a bass player.

The part of this that was so shocking to me is that facing these men from different back rounds and in the middle of different struggles every other week is an utterly amazing experience. In most classes I have a mixture of people who have just completed one month and some who are nearing the end of phase two. The combined effect of no substances, adequate sleep, quality food, a low stress environment and structured individual support is astounding.

Most after thirty days are still struggling physically and their nervous system isn't working right. The are obviously holding onto their old "pre treatment " persona and approaching every situation through the lens of an addict in some stage of a very difficult life. At about six to eight weeks something big happens and they start changing back into whoever they were before addiction. This change is so profound that it is stunning to see. It's not just physical. It is a total transformation of where the see themselves in this world. Part of my amazement is that this change is so regular and similar no matter what the age, race or family back round. It doesn't matter if prior to being at the clinic they were sleeping under a bridge, in prison or running a small busines having a house and family.

Being some small part of that change and a witness to it is more valuable than I ever imagined.

All it costs me is a couple of student guitars, some accessories and an hour and half a week.

Of course, not all of them make it that far. Some sign themselves out, some are let go for violations of conduct. For those that remain in the program the process and progress seems to me to be very predictable. Addiction is a tough and persistent condition and in the long term many will struggle and relapse. But even among those who do, some will return to a drug and alcohol free life.

Maybe having the ability to play some guitar will help.
I've no idea how I missed this thread when it was posted and I'm grateful I found it.
I'm deeply moved by the words, it had me travelling in my mind's eye back to November 2012 when I went into a rehab clinic for 28 days.

If you change just one life BB, then it will be worth every second of your work. However, I'm sure your work will help change many, and that's before taking into account the lives of those who the recovering addicts will meet on their post rehab journey.

Music is powerful medicine, and I can say will every fibre of my being that it has kept me alive in this near decade's journey through recovery.

Your post reminded me of a particular Saturday afternoon 3 weeks into my rehab. It was an expensive clinic albeit my insurance covered it, I knew that there were no second chances at that time. Insurance only pays out once for rehab and at £20K+ for 28days, it's something I'd never be able to afford.

Anyway, on this particular Saturday I sat in the recreation room with the 6 other "litter mates" who's addictions ranged from alcohol and weed (me), to coke to prescription opiates. My wife had brought my guitar in at my doc's suggestion. The seven of us in my group sat the entire Saturday afternoon singing with me providing the accompaniment on guitar.

The hope in the room was palpable, sadly only 4 of us are still alive but we're all clean, sober and occasionally in touch. We talk about that day every time we meet up.

Since coming out of the place in 2012, I've had 4 more stays in the same place, but in the psych ward.
Unfortunately, nearly 40 years with a brain injury and a lifetime of ASD which wasn't diagnosed until 2017 (when I was 50) means I have a lifelong mental health condition requiring me to go into hospital every 18-24 months for med adjustments and some respite from the slings and arrows of normal life.

The last time I was there was Dec 20/Jan 21 while the outside world was also under lock and key due to the pandemic.

Each time I'm in there, I've taken my guitar in with me. It's not only therapy for me but also for others when I'm in there.
I particularly enjoy going round to see the mainly young folk in the eating disorders ward and having a good singsong and like you've said, I'm sure I'm getting more out of my temporary feelings of usefulness than anybody else involved.
Christmas dinner 2020, providing the music was a moving experience for me.

I aspire, when my physical health improves (another brain injury related later in life condition) to go into this place regularly to see where I can help with my music.
It's probably a long way off. No doubt I've another stay as a patient between now and meeting my aspirations.

I'll definitely be in touch for some advice and notes if and when the time comes to up my game in the usefulness stakes.

Again, thanks for posting this thread.
 

Frank Roberts

Tele-Meister
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
294
God bless you, BigBean, for giving your time and energy to help those most in need.

I hope your comments above, about the universal improvements the clients have undergone in their time in the clinic, are posted there to give hope and resolve to those just beginning. They are lucky to have you.
 
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