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The Woodshed : Never good enough

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JJ Rocks Article # 64:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 13, October, 2007
Well here we are at our first anniversary and the year just seemed to go by so quick. And it makes me think What new did I learn this year? And the answer was Not as much as I should have. Its so easy to take time for granted when you are older and play an instrument. You look back and remember how hard you used to practice and then think about the present with a slight bit of embarrassment because you dont want to admit to yourself that youve slowed down to a crawl with the whole musical learning process. Why is this? When you were young is when you didnt think about the limitations of the human lifespan, but thats when you did most of your practicing. You are much more mature than you were back then so why the lack in discipline now? And you also didnt have to go to work and support yourself like you do now as you go through your daily regimented work schedule, so why cant you organize a short daily practice with your instrument. I cant see you right now but Im guessing that you are not holding your hand in the air with an answer.

Maybe the first signs are when some of us become more proficient at talking about music around the watering hole than we are at actually playing it. We sit and drop names and talk about articles that weve read. We are quick to point out the differences in certain types of electronics. And of course the all time favorite, casting opinions on other players. I dont know about you but when I was young the only thoughts of other players were the ones that had to do with them leaving me in the dust if I didnt practice hard. Now all we do is talk about them.

It confuses me when we know that life gets shorter everyday but we give less and less to a craft that used to be our dream. And Im not talking about being some kind of celebrity, I mean when we used to dream about being a great player of our chosen instrument. Ok, I know some of you are saying right now I just dont have the time like I used to. Well maybe you will just have to give up one TV show a night so you can practice again. Yeah right. Or maybe you can try it my way. I sit on the couch and watch boring reruns and play my guitar very soft. Before I know it two hours have went by and I got some practice in. But that works well for guitar or something that you can use a headphone amp with. I wouldnt try it with a sax or anything else that might land you in the family doghouse.

Believe me, its a constant battle for me to keep up on my practice and sometimes I do good and sometimes I dont. But I guess the key element here is to keep trying. And even when I try hard I still fall predator to mood swings, aches and pains, and just being older and down right grumpy. Hey, maybe thats it! Thats the difference between us and those super kid musicians that keep making us want to look the other way. We can use our bad backs, arthritis fingers, long work days, failing eyesight, overdue bills and underpaid jobs as excuses! If those kids only knew what life was all about they would never have time to practice! Who cares that they get up when we do, get on buses and go a school that gives them five or six different classes to learn everyday, come home on a bus and get ready for karate, dance class or some other activity. And of course trying to fit in their homework should be no sweat at all. No wonder they have time to practice their music. They dont have to do as much as we do! Yeah right.

I tell all my students the same thing and when they hear it they all give me the same discouraged look at first. But its become one of the ways that I can tell if they have what it takes to be a good player. I tell them you will never be good enough. And after they catch their breath I say because the day they you tell yourself that you are good enough is the day that you stop learning. Maybe we should all take a moment and think about that.

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