Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I've been humbled

Mac Davis used to sing a song about how Hard it Is to Be Humble. I suppose we have all suffered from that condition at some point in our lives, and I have had my moments also. However, most of the time I would consider myself as a normal competent person and have gotten used to having a certain level of confidence in just about everything I do. Not cocky mind you, just confident.
 However, now that I have re-ignited my attempt to learn to play the 5 String Banjo, I have reached new lows in self confidence and esteem. Much like my first three attempts over the past 30 years, this one is just as rough. But this time I have a different attitude. I intend to stick with it and even if I come out only a little better than when I started, I will continue to work on it. This time I am not in a rush, and I accept that I have no skills going in with little hope of gaining any.
 It's gonna be different this time. For one thing, the frustration of tuning the damned thing is gone, thanks to the Intellitouch tuner life is much easier. I love this thing because I used to spend an hour trying to work with a pitch pipe to get it tuned, by the time I began the actual practice, I was frazzled. Now, tuning is a joy. I also remember the pain on the finger tips of my left hand in my attempts of the past, but this time I have none of that. It's probably due to my job in past years that always had me with a hundred micro-cuts on my finger tips making them quite sensitive, and the fine banjo strings would cut right through. Lastly, my attitude is different. It used to be that when my fingers didn't follow my desires I would get frustrated right away and push harder, getting even more frustrated. Now when I miss, I just do it again, and again, and again until it sounds better. (I'll let you know if it ever sounds better.)
 It also helps that we don't live in an apartment like we did for my early attempts. My wife quickly tires of my bumbling and has little sympathy. Now I can practice downstairs and not bother anyone. The dog doesn't much care for the banjo and always heads upstairs to be with Momma when I begin to 'play'.
 In all my life, the banjo is the only thing that I have tried and not be able to attain some level of competency with. It has squashed me at every attempt. I have been beaten and now think I understand the task, and will approach this on the banjo's terms instead of my own.
 If I were good at metaphors, I would say there is a life lesson buried in here somewhere. If I figure it out, I'll let you know.
 For now, I'm just gonna stick with a minimum of a half hour practice session everyday and see where it takes me. The goal now is to practice well, and I'm not looking any further.
 Let's see if this approach works.
Be Safe, Be Sharp,


  1. So how is it going? Any updates?

  2. Well, I'm sticking with the practice routine "everyday" in all but the worst schedule days. I've had my first real lesson with my BLF and am sticking to his instructions. The few things I am working on ARE actually showing some progress (i.e.: I don't suck as much as I used to). I think I'm due for another lesson next week, but I'm not in a rush. I do now realize that I won't be picking 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown" anytime in the next decade, and I'm OK with that. As an added bonus this time around, my wife is not complaining AT ALL about my practice. She even stopped to listen for almost 30 full seconds the other night 9But the dog still runs upstairs when I practice).
    I'm EMTing at the Roxbury Bluegrass festival this weekend where my BLF, Son-in-law and some others are pickin'. I'll try to get a post up soon.
    Thanks for asking Linda, Be Well.

  3. I give you credit just for making the attempt! I was in my office yesterday (while the nefarious Captain was running around like a fool) working on some Travis Picking-again. Someday I'll get it just right, but in the meantime, Pearl Jam's Just Breath has materialized om my 1976 Yamaha. That's the one I've had since junior high, and is now relegated to my work locker. Will wonders never cease!

    Keep on pickin'!