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home : columns : dear harriette November 29, 2020

10/9/2020 8:11:00 AM
Teen can learn guitar without private lessons

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is in high school and wants to start taking guitar lessons. I want to give my son the best opportunity to succeed, but the truth is I can't afford any private lessons right now. I have taken the steps to learn how to read sheet music so that I can teach him and we can learn together. But I'm not sure I can go as far as learning how to play the guitar from YouTube videos. I have tried to get him interested in other things that I can afford, but ever since he was a young boy, I have never seen him this passionate about wanting to start something new. How do I let him down easy and break it to him that the lessons are just out of reach for us right now? -- A Mother Making It Work

DEAR A MOTHER MAKING IT WORK: Your son is in high school, and he is passionate about the guitar. He is the one who should be scouring YouTube videos teaching himself how to read music and play. He is at the age where he needs to begin discovering his independence. Suggest that he do all the research he needs online to learn all that he can. While he may not have a physical guitar, he can learn how to play guitar music from his computer. He can also research online music classes that may be free.

You do not have to feel inadequate because you cannot afford these lessons. Encourage him to get creative and learn as much as he can with the tools available. Because of the challenges that COVID-19 has created for the school system, I don't know how helpful his school will be right now in music support, but you should ask if they are offering any music programs that he might be able to join.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently I have gotten many solicitations from people offering to give me huge amounts of money if I respond to them. It really is annoying after a while. I've been told that they are scammers, but I don't know how they got to me nor how to get rid of them. Plus, I get random calls from people trying to sell me everything known under the sun, including cheap vacation packages.

It got weird, though, when somebody called saying they were from the Social Security Administration, and I need to give them my Social Security number right away to make sure it was safe. I hung up, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. That person sounded scary. It's all pretty overwhelming. Can you help? -- Stop Scamming

DEAR STOP SCAMMING: There should be a feature in your email that allows you to identify scammers, report and block them. You also may be able to make your email and other social media platforms private so that you reduce the expanse of people and businesses that can reach you. To reduce scam callers, register your phone with the national Do Not Call list: 888-382-1222. To report potential scams, go to to find the right reporting outlet for your problem.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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