Saturday, January 3, 2015

Excited to learn

I'm not worth it.

It's too much.

I won't make the best use of it.

I'm not ready.


I have mentioned my banjo before (over and over again). My wife bought me a banjo last March. It was too much money, and something that we should not have spent the money on.

To be clear, I do not have a great track record with making good use of musical instruments. I got a guitar for a birthday in my teens, and never learned more than a couple of chords. The dulcimer Dad bought me in 2002 is a beautiful piece of wall art. I borrowed my sister's keyboard, and never really used it.

I have friends and relatives who play instruments. Some of them (Bruce, Caroline, Windi) learned to play as adults. I envy the focus that they bring to the task.

And as much as I liked listening to the banjo, I found it hard to justify buying one for myself. I am a singer.  A singer who suffered through piano lessons in the fourth and fifth grade. I can read music... But have never been able to summon the focus to really learn an instrument.

So the banjo was a bit scary.

It would have been easier if the banjo had cost fifty bucks, was impossible to tune, and had been a funky instrument that didn't follow the rules.  It is easier to justify failure if there are mitigating circumstances.

But Kathe did not allow me that luxury.  If I was going to ignore the banjo in the corner, if I was going to not practice, if I was going to avoid becoming the musician I wanted to be...iIt was not going to be the fault of the instrument.

We did not get a $2,400 instrument.  But we also did not get a garage-sale banjo, either. Even though that was what I was looking for.

I wanted an instrument that I could feel no guilt about not succeeding at playing. What I got was an instrument that I could succeed with.

It is now 9 months later. I have learned my basic four chords, and can play a number of simple tunes (I balked at the "Go tell Aunt Rhody" tunes, and just played the ones I wanted to. After learning the lesson on backward roll associated with that infernal tune, of course). I read the tablature, and play out-of-rhythm versions of a number of tunes that I like.

I even can sing along to my clawhammer efforts, as weak as they are.

It gives me a surprising amount of joy. 

Today I take my first banjo lesson, and I am suitably scared.  I don't know whether I will be able to play the way I want.  I know my hands will shake (one of the main reasons I hated performing on piano when I was a kid.)

But I am going to learn.  I am going to demand a lot from the instructor.  I am going to squeeze every bit of value out of the interaction, or I am going to find a different instructor.

I am excited.

Take that, ego. 



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