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Thread: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

  1. #26

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    what would you feel is most important to keep them inspired to play it?
    Well, never (ever) reading this thread would be a good start: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...ntinues-Part-2

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  3. #27

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    As an experienced teacher in Guitar, I've always had the same question in my mind. Based on my own experience, if you want to motivate a person, you can utilize the way you motivate a kid. I mean with basic and tangible reasons such as entertain your friends and make new ones, excel your rivals in various aspects of life by learning this outstanding skill etc.

  4. #28
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Good comment! I'll bet you're an extrovert - you get recharged interacting with other people. I'm a classic introvert. We get recharged by getting away from people.
    Although it's a bit of a tangent to the subject I think it's worth highlighting that having a supportive environment in which to explore music making does not depend on whether you are introvert or extrovert. It's about having a safe space to grow while you learn. Especially a space where you can learn skills while failing. For me it was having an amateur orchestra which was specifically aimed at scratch players that got me back on the 'cello all those years ago. I'm long past that now, but when taking up the mandolin it was having a local jam to try out tunes with other instruments and get the ears in. It is emotionally stressful, but I found the return outweighed the expenditure, so it kept me going.

    I'm kind of strange in terms of trying to fit on any introvert-extrovert line.
    I don't really do much of the social interaction bit, unless it's to pursue an objective such as getting to play music with people.
    In that case I'll be as gregarious as needed to form the required grouping and have no inhibition about mixing or performing for that.
    However even then it's pretty much limited to the event, beyond that I prefer isolation and space to pursue things on my own without spending effort managing interactions that have no purpose. I regularly will spend a week or so without speaking to anyone outside of work issues & I do not socialise with colleagues. It is interesting that in our house we have three quite high-level musicians and none of us play together outside orchestral situations, with each pursuing their own path even though those interests do overlap in various ways. We all develop and practice separately. However we are all very supportive of the others efforts, making space and rearranging schedules as needed. My impression is that many of those I end up playing music with are similarly solitary by nature, (chosing an activity that demands long hours of solitary practice & study would tend to select for those traits) several are very shy of social interaction and overcome it in order to gain an outlet for their music making. I do know many very extrovert examples in the local music scene, but tend to avoid that type of company as it is too demanding and often not focused enough on the music but more interested in the event.
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  6. #29
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    Just nevermind.. everything I said lol. Decided to just be more straight forward.


    New players.. what inspires/inspired you to keep with it? When you are trying to learn new chords and force your hands to move in impossibly alien ways.. what keeps you from deciding its for the birds, throwing your instrument down and going to watch your favorite show instead?

    Does it have anything to do with your instrument? Is it the beauty or relic/nostalgic look that makes you want to master it? The sound? Feel? Other musicians?

    Its been years since I was new to stringed instruments.. but I remember like it was yesterday how much of a challenge it is in the beginning.. moving your fingers in impossibly alien ways to form chords, building finger strength to properly fret strings, fingers raw, sore, and nearly bleeding, getting your effin pinky to half ass act like its connected to your brain lol.. etc.. but I cant really remember what made me pick my guitar up every day multiple times a day and keep at it. I dont know why I didnt just drop it and go do something fun rather than setting there torturing myself with something that seemed impossibly out of reach.

    So what does/did it for you? If you wanted to buy an instrument for a complete newb to playing any instrument, what would you feel is most important to keep them inspired to play it?
    Set the instrument up well.

    Find out what type of music they like - who are their favourite players? They may not have any yet. Work out a pop song (if that is their taste) on mando - show them that. Introduce them to new players - Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, Mike Marshall, Mike Compton? Leave Grisman and Thile for a little later. And Monroe for a little later. Play them REM, or the Band, or Jethro Tull, or any pop song with mando. Play as well as you can. Let them experiment.

    Above all, remind them - we PLAY music, we don't WORK it. It's fun. Enjoy it, and let them enjoy it.
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  8. #30

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    Find out what kind of music the student wants to play on the mandolin, then take him/her to a live performance of that genre which includes mandolin. A session of that type of music would work too.
    Videos might also be inspirational but there's nothing like live music IMO
    Yup. Hearing's believing.

    Just got around to learning squareneck recently, but what inspired me happened years ago - the late seventies or early eighties. Went to a Seldom Scene show. After all these years, I don't remember where it was or who was with me. But I can still hear Mike Auldridge's solo on "House of the Rising Sun." He induced involuntary mass levitation. Whew!

  9. #31

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Progress is a big motivator for me. As long as I'm improving, I want to keep at it. Especially when I learn to play a song that was previously impossible for me.

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  11. #32

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    I'm reading and re-reading this thread trying to learn.

    Here was the scenario:
    Mid-fifties male expressed an interest. I lent him a mandolin. I printed out the two finger chords. I emailed a bunch of YT links of examples. Made 3 YT vids of simple 2 finger chord tunes. Met face to face, mandolin to mandolin, a couple times where we could sit down uninterrupted. Learned tuning, and rudimentary form. Guy's been a friend for many years, would never think about charging. That was a year ago in Aug. We're still friends. I get the feeling we both think we disappointed the other. I keep thinking, he's got the tools, it may click, and it may not.

    Now, I think, What if I told him to go find a teacher? He may or may not have found one, granted. The closest being 60 miles away. But he'd pay money. That's a tangible investment. He'd get weekly lessons. He'd get a curriculum. He'd probably attend until it clicked or not, and probably continue passed that point. Or he'd take an introductory lesson and say no. But this is my concession to the professionals. I've got much respect for those that dedicate their life and time. I think too, buy the time one seeks out an instructor, and schedules time, it's passed the point of a notion. And it's already been touched upon, in the end it's another thing that requires time. Imagine, there may be another Dave Apollon in waiting, but other things stole his/her time.

  12. #33
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    I'm reading and re-reading this thread trying to learn.

    Here was the scenario:
    Mid-fifties male expressed an interest. I lent him a mandolin. I printed out the two finger chords. I emailed a bunch of YT links of examples. Made 3 YT vids of simple 2 finger chord tunes. Met face to face, mandolin to mandolin, a couple times where we could sit down uninterrupted. Learned tuning, and rudimentary form. Guy's been a friend for many years, would never think about charging. That was a year ago in Aug. We're still friends. I get the feeling we both think we disappointed the other. I keep thinking, he's got the tools, it may click, and it may not.

    Now, I think, What if I told him to go find a teacher? He may or may not have found one, granted. The closest being 60 miles away. But he'd pay money. That's a tangible investment. He'd get weekly lessons. He'd get a curriculum. He'd probably attend until it clicked or not, and probably continue passed that point. Or he'd take an introductory lesson and say no. But this is my concession to the professionals. I've got much respect for those that dedicate their life and time. I think too, buy the time one seeks out an instructor, and schedules time, it's passed the point of a notion. And it's already been touched upon, in the end it's another thing that requires time. Imagine, there may be another Dave Apollon in waiting, but other things stole his/her time.
    I used to say that being a manager would be fun if you didn’t have to deal with employees. It was a constant struggle to understand what motivated an employee: some needed an ever-present stream of praise and kudos; a few did their best if they were just left alone; quite a few required constant directions and over-the-shoulder guidance to get any job done; and some required a firm but gentle reality check along the lines of "maybe you really need to look at a different profession." Such are the varied personalities of humans.

    I would venture to say that students are the same. How you learned to play may be totally different than how I learned because how you respond to guidance may be different than how I respond. So that’s the importance of professional teachers who can understand the personality type and approach individual needs accordingly.

    Having said that, there are a lot of folks out there who are practicing or taking lessons but they only have a lukewarm appreciation of the instrument. Lukewarm is not enough to get a person past the introductory stages of learning. Maybe they haven’t found the instrument that trips their trigger or maybe they’re lukewarm to learning how to play any instrument in general. So it might be best for those folks to come to grips of what they really want – to continue on, to change instruments, or to be an enthusiastic member of the audience. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those alternatives.

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  14. #34
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    So what does/did it for you? If you wanted to buy an instrument for a complete newb to playing any instrument, what would you feel is most important to keep them inspired to play it?
    Regularly playing with other people. In my case jamming once a week. Even a rank beginner an benefit from attending a jam and seeing his or her efforts in that context.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  15. #35

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    My motivation was (in order of importance):
    1) Playing an instrument is a chick magnet (perhaps I'm the exception to the rule though).
    2) I liked the sound of guitar/mando and wanted to play it as good as pros I heard (this is still in progress)
    3) I don't like giving up

    Sadly I am still not that good and I've been playing for YEARS. Maybe I should quit. Oh wait... remember rule #1.

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  17. #36
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    I would suggest an easy to play instrument (read: set up well,) that sounds good. If a child, hopefully you have other students so they can play together occasionally. If an adult, well, I for one prefer to play alone. Others prefer to play in groups. Ask adults which they prefer.

  18. #37

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ... inspired you to keep with it? ...
    Positive encouragement from my teacher (my dad), and the feeling (however inaccurate it might have been at various points in my learning) that I was steadily getting closer to my original goal of someday sounding like my musical heroes. Hero maybe too strong a word, but just the people whose playing I admired and wanted to sound like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ... Does it have anything to do with your instrument? Is it the beauty or relic/nostalgic look that makes you want to master it? ...
    No, absolutely not. I never got into the idol-worship aspect of fine instruments, although I do respect and appreciate a good instrument's quality and the workmanship and care that must have went into building it. But that is not what inspires me to play.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ...The sound? ...
    Yes. The 'vibe' of a particular genre or style of music.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ... Feel? ...
    If you mean an emotional-type feel-good "feel" from the sound itself, then Yes.

    If you mean the tactile sense of holding the instrument and feeling the texture of the finish and inlays etc, then No. That doesn't do anything for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ... Other musicians? ...
    Musical mentors and role models, sure.

    Regular everyday-normal musicians to jam with, yes but that was *after* I'd already been bitten with the music bug.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ... If you wanted to buy an instrument for a complete newb to playing any instrument, what would you feel is most important to keep them inspired to play it?
    1. As others have mentioned, good setup. Low action, not having strings a mile high and hard to fret cleanly. But not so low it buzzes.

    2. Good, smooth tuners that don't require pliers to turn them. In that regard, my lowly $50 Rogue is far superior to my vintage Favilla - I don't think a newbie would last very long on the Favilla, the tuners are finger-busters, it's discouraging to have to fight with it all the time, a newbie would think "Well if this is what music is all about, I don't want anything to do with it!"

    3. Provide them with access to lots of different types of learning materials - printed books, audio recordings, videos - and let them choose which type(s) they get the most mileage out of. Some people do better with visual stuff, other people do better with just hearing the sound, some people like both. Videos showing the player's hands are useful, to help the mind connect the dots between the sound and what it takes to produce that sound. Don't get hung up on the age-old debate of "Which is better, tab or standard notation?", instead provide both, it doesn't have to be either/or, they compliment each other nicely.

    4. Other posters have mentioned this too: Find out who their musical heroes are, and help them get onto a path where they can learn to play like their heroes do. If you're the teacher, when you notice some little thing about their playing that reminds you of that hero's playing, tell the student about it. Don't overdo it or they'll think you're making stuff up, but that little bit of ego-padding can provide just the encouragement needed to keep at it.

      Even if the student's musical goal is personal enjoyment rather than becoming world famous or whatever, it's still good to have a goal to aim for when learning something.

    5. Keep it fun. Whatever it takes. Rewards for good behavior etc.

    6. Recorded backing tracks. If you're the one making the tracks, maybe let the student choose which style of backing they want. Maybe they want to jam oldtime fiddle tunes to rock backing tracks, who knows, I do that and it's fun!

    7. Have the teacher jam along with the student, for at least a few minutes each lesson.
      I've encountered some teachers who don't do that, all they do is make the student play stuff while the teacher sits there and listens, that's it, end of lesson, see ya next week, teacher sends the student home with another dry boring 'assignment', ugh! Where's the fun in that? I understand the need for carefully watching what the student is doing as far as technique etc., but if that's the *only* thing the teacher is doing, I don't think the student is getting their money's worth. (I'm referring to in-person local teachers, I have no idea about how internet teaching works, I would imagine it's probably entirely different.)


    Now, I suppose a more-difficult case would be where the student doesn't know what they like or maybe they don't even know if they like music, I would have no clue where to start with that... maybe just toss a bunch of stuff their direction and see if any of it appeals to them... not sure there. (I'm not a teacher, I can only personally understand things from a student point of view.)

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  20. #38

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Perusing my local CL today, I thought of this thread. Some poor parent listed a YBS52 (multi $K bari sax) saying, "used by my son for a couple of years.."

  21. #39
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Inspiration is a tricky thing -- a moving target, from what I've noticed. What initially inspired me to play the mandolin was guilt -- my parents had bought it for me, i felt obligated to learn how to play it. Granted I was in my early 20s at the time so had years of guilt to refer to. Initially learning music -- I don't remember. I started playing flute in elementary school and never practiced -- but sitting in band all those years, playing great music, hooked me on playing even badly and gave me a delight in classical music. When I first took up the mandolin, it was to classical music I turned. It was just one more tool to play Bach or Telemann or Handel. So, yeah, for me, the music I played was the inspiration to keep playing.

    Motivating someone else is different. Everybody has different reasons why they want to play, if they actually want to learn something. What I have noticed is that, no matter how much someone wants to play, putting roadblocks of any kind in their way will kill that motivation faster than Roundup kills crabgrass. doesn't matter the roadblock, from a badly functioning instrument to an insistence that there's only one way to do something to haranguing someone for missing a note to forcing someone to play in public before they're ready -- all that will kill motivation. For some whose egos are fairly fragile, taking them to see a brilliant player will kill motivation -- you have to know your student/kid/spouse/friend to find out what will encourage them to keep on. and it's different for everyone. Probably the best motivation is to listen to what the new player is saying -- not just verbally. And some times, you have to wait a decade and try again.
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    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Learning in a vacuum is probably a non-starter for many. I mean, if there is no genuine initial inspiration, born from hearing a sound, a style, and falling in love with it, then the motivation may fail. This maybe why early recorder and violin lessons at school failed dismally - my imagination was not captured. So, the earlier you experience any sort of music, the earlier you may want to do the same. However, since maturity (or just age...) continually brings exposure to new sounds, assuming we let that happen, we can equally well (or perhaps more so) be inspired later on in life - just as we find it increasingly harder to learn new things!
    In teenage/early twenties I wanted to be able to play the songs that were part of my life (Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle...) so that was a great motivation to learn guitar. In my late forties I discovered Show of Hands, and fell in love with the mandocello style of Steve Knightly, which was a great motivation to learn the Irish bouzouki (the nearest available alternative). With the mandolin, which I have only just started, the motivation is rather more to do with setting myself a new learning challenge as I plough through my 50's which will hopefully do wonders for my little grey cells.... But that is still set within the context of music which I enjoy, and a scene that I've started getting into with bouzouki, namely Irish music.
    So I feel confident that I will persevere, and since my goal is not set unrealistically high, I'm not doomed to failure. I know I'll possibly never be a slow session mando player, but I'll be happy if I can play tunes slowly with some competence.
    Other factors - yes, a good-sounding playable instrument is of course important - experience bears that out! Playing with others and having fun/fellowship is of course also motivating.
    There have been many good contributions on this thread.
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  25. #41

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    Set the instrument up well.
    A hugely important point. I have played guitar for decades, but recently bought a mandolin. I didn't play it much at first until I brought it to a local luthier and had it properly set up. The truss rod had actually been turned all the way backwards giving the neck a nasty bow, making the action way too high. Playing it now it such a pleasure compared to before and has increased the amount of time I devote to it.

    Btw, I am new here and apologize for just jumping in out of nowhere but couldn't find the thread for new members to introduce themselves. Is there one?
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwy80 View Post
    Btw, I am new here and apologize for just jumping in out of nowhere but couldn't find the thread for new members to introduce themselves. Is there one?
    No. Welcome to the Cafe.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  28. #43
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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwy80 View Post
    Btw, I am new here and apologize for just jumping in out of nowhere but couldn't find the thread for new members to introduce themselves. Is there one?
    Yeah, what Mike said.

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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Couple of things did it for me. First off, a love of bluegrass after my wife introduced it to me. Then I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, in lieu of lying on the floor with a snoot full of beer playing air guitar; again, my wife got me a guitar and told me to learn how to play it. I guess she was sick of my air guitar antics. Then I fell in with some ol' boys who played bluegrass and I got more and more hooked. Everyone played the guitar so I got a mandolin and the rest is history I guess.
    Oh, one other point: getting Randy Wood to make me an F 5 permanently cured my MAS.

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    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    Well, kind of depends, adult or child, self motivated or outside (parental/spousal) influence. But there needs to be some rewards along the way to rekindle desire, while providing suitable challenges for the level of the player. I'm learning 3 finger chords on the high strings, which I see as a path to chord melody, which is quite a challenge for me. But the hope of new songs/style, is motivating for me. As my teacher said, 'it's why you take lessons'. It's a path to finding my voice.

    And suggests that inspiration needs to relate to a students' aspirations.
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  31. #46

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    1. Going to the jam, trying to get one more note in the tune than the last time and having friendly people say to just keep coming back.

    2. At home, the mandolin never sounded horrible even when making mistakes. It always sounded pretty and was never loud.

  32. #47

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    I remember my first guitar, and knowing nothing, but i strummed and messed with it anyway, until i got a teacher.
    I loved music.

    I would ask the student, and, do so periodically. Guessing doesnt always work.....

    It depends on the person. Their personality. Creative, technician, internal, performer, pathmaker, path follower, ear for finding notes, rhythm, shrinking violet, or braggart.etc.

    For me, it was Playing songs. Songs off the radio.
    Loving the acoustic sound of strong leadbelly style accompaniment.
    Singing along, even if i had little confidence at the time.

    Im teaching banjo (!! Barely can play mesef) to a young woman, lacking musical confidence. I encourage her, show her chords, "notes boxes" to be used in any position, and, we sing, then, she sings, while playing. Much gushing praise follows. I try to help her find the best keys for her in any given song, and then, how to fit the banjo to this. Shes getting stronger every week. I drive the song bus, then its her turn. It seems to work, for her. She simply needed, at this point, someone to hold her hand and show her simple but new things to digest.

    Another iwoman i teach plays guitar, and mando,intermediate. We work on singing and changes, runs, usable scales, solos, finding the melody, and, again best keys to sing. Small bits she can digest and integrate. Thats who she is, musically. At this point.

    A happy and encouraging, praise filled session seems to keep them at it.


    For me, this was what kept me going, being able to find song books with songs and chords i knew, when starting guitar.

    Later, i went into fingerstyle, then, jazz at Berklee. Most won't.

    It was, the ability to DO something on the instrument.
    Embellishment, runs, etc, (why doesnt this damn FenderJaguar sound like Jimis strat?) all those mysteries were to be solved in the coming decades, because, i could execute the most basic stuff. And, could play with others by this simple ability to chord along, in time.
    Last edited by stevedenver; Sep-17-2018 at 9:11am.

  33. #48

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    For me it is a combination of things, most of which has been said. But it often comes down to me being able to make music that I enjoy listening too, both by myself and with others.

    It takes years to get there for me on an instrument, if I get there at all.
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  34. #49

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    One of my favorite things to do is attend a festival and meet other pickers and do tons of jamming. The better I get at playing, the more fun I have jamming. Sometimes I lose motivation, but after I attend a festival and hear the other great pickers the fire inside me is usually rekindled. I also like to have a goal: my current goal is to play fiddle tunes at 130 bpm with a clean, good grove technique - I'm currently hovering around +/- 120 bpm - almost there

  35. #50

    Default Re: Your Opinions on inspiring a new student?

    It's the synergy that moves me the most. I play with other people that are far better musicians that I will ever be, all play multiple instruments so my guitar and my uke are fairly redundant. I started adding mandolin, easy two finger chords with a little bit of percussive type of playing and it added a whole new texture to the mix that we all found totally delightful... even in a very simple form it added so much. That led me to looking at higher quality instruments and led me to this forum where i found all kinds of great info an cool lessons. It has been a complete and total joy... until i try to do chop chords and realize OMG this is really hard, at at which point i bring it back to easy chords and keep trying to stretch and believe in time that it will come.

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