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Thread: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

  1. #1
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Well I was contemplating the meaning of life and listening to heavy metal the other day… ok just kidding. But I was thinking (that’s dangerous, last time I thought someone almost lost a hand… jk) I was thinking about musicianship and came to an encouraging, or discouraging, realization; you will never “get there” cuz the moment you get “there” you’ll look over the hill you just climbed and realize that the next one is where “there” is. This could be discouraging, but I would look at it as encouraging. Because if you hadn’t climbed that metaphorical hill you’re currently standing on, you would have never even seen the next one. And remember, you can’t travel between one hill and the next without walking through the valley in the middle. Your knowledge is like a candle; the bigger the circle of your knowledge gets (the brighter your candle) the bigger the circle of what you don’t know gets outside it. Each new thing you learn will bring to your attention at least two things you have yet to learn. This is actually a good thing, as it means you’re learning, though it may not feel like it. So keep at it, you’ll get there, even though you’ll never get there, cuz whenever you get where the icecream truck was, it’ll already be to the next block. But even professionals, I believe, never “get there” cuz they are always learning too. The moment you decide that you’ve “made it” you’ll stop trying to learn, so just don’t. If you’ve made it this far, you’re either really bored or you’ve been reading Greek philosophy and needed to clear your head anyway, I hope this was more encouraging than discouraging, I think maybe I should start a blog
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    It's all about expectations. Expect to be better than Chris Thiele and you are doomed to failure, unless of course you are a 9 year old wonder kid. Then there is hope. But if you expect to get better every day and have fun doing it, music will fill your world with joy.

    Then you get into a race to get better before the body falls apart. Good luck with that one.
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  5. #3
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Just be the best you can be, strive for perfection, but, most of all enjoy your journey!

  6. #4

    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    I am just having fun while trying to learn. I am still back on the first hill .

  7. #5
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Allegory of The Cave, anyone?

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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Woah, egads! Bringing Plato to the forum, what's the world coming to?
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    Allegory of The Cave, anyone?
    I'm game. Woodshedding and watching videos of others playing is in-cave musicianship. But going out and really playing with others and in front of audiences is the real music whose shadow you did before.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Woah, egads! Bringing Plato to the forum, what's the world coming to?
    I'll move forward about 2,300 years and bring in G.K. Chesterton:

    'Some things cannot be seen because you are too close to them.' Most of us are our own worse critics . . . step back and try to look at who and where you really are, and you'll see it's probably really not as bad as you think.

    'A thing worth doing, is worth doing badly - such as writing your own love letters, or playing with your own children.' Even if you are not Jethro Burns or (insert your favorite mandolin player here) - it is still important to do certain things, even if others can do it better . . . like play the music that is in your heart.

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    IMHO If you spend your life focused on the big hill, at the end you'll find your life is over and you were too busy trying to be better, at whatever, to remember it.

  13. #10
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    I was actually joking when I said you were reading Greek philosophy, but it seems some of you actually were
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    to continue the allegory, there's always the ability, when you stand on that hill -- the first, the next or the next after that -- to look back and see how far you've come, even if it's only a few steps. Sometimes there's a temptation to believe you haven't moved because incremental steps are hard to see while they're being taken, but being able to look back gives you a better perspective of what you've accomplished.
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    this thread is beginning to sound like a cue to break into a round of 'The bear went over the mountain'...

    I work in a adult ed college and the building is full of people setting out to find their first hill, or climbing to the top of one, or trekking through the valley to find the next one. It's a very inspiring place to work.

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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    It's all about expectations. Expect to be better than Chris Thiele and you are doomed to failure, unless of course you are a 9 year old wonder kid. Then there is hope. But if you expect to get better every day and have fun doing it, music will fill your world with joy.

    Then you get into a race to get better before the body falls apart. Good luck with that one.
    I strive to get as good as Chris Thiele or Sarah Jaroz, although realistically I know that is unlikely to happen. And I also doubt I will get as good as I want to get before my body falls apart, but I am enjoying the journey. I think we need goals.....

  18. #14
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    I have been in and around music all my life, almost to the point where I can't remember not being able to play something, and I grew up in a setting (church and gospel) which encouraged participation rather than perfection, and the emphasis was on improv, trying new things, etc. My wife learned to play guitar as a teenager, but she on the other hand stuck pretty much to the chord chart and then stopped playing for several years. Over the last couple of years watching her return to music, and this time learning new instruments and trying new things, and starting to develop an ear and a feel for playing, has really allowed me the wonderful privilege of seeing music through fresh eyes. I realized that I have become jaded over the years, and that things like picking out a melody just by ear with no sheet music, or figuring out a chord progression without being told, or hearing for the first time how backup licks work with the melody, is truly a marvelous and exciting thing. It's encouraged me, always a keyboard/bass person before, to return to the guitar and take up the octave mandolin, and in so doing find a whole new musical world to explore. Even if we think we've "arrived," we should look around for that person who's still climbing the hill behind us and find inspiration from them.
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    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    ... I think we need goals.....
    Agreed, to get even more philosophical, I believe in setting goals we first need to look at our reasons for wanting to play music. To illustrate what I mean, here's my story - when I started playing the mandolin at age 15 or thereabouts, I wanted to be a rock star, and my goal was that everyone would look at me and go "WOW!!". Apart from the fact that I had chosen the wrong instrument - it's much easier to be cool with a Stratocaster or a Les Paul than the cheap eastern european barely playable mandolin my parents bought me, that was a legitimate motivation (and, I think, still the reason millions of teens the world over pick up an instrument). I learned Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Stones and a whole slew of other songs, but Jimi, Pete Townsend or Keith Richards I was not.
    In my twenties I got "into" jazz and wanted to be the Lester Young of the mandolin, which was obviously a ridiculous idea, but nevertheless, I practised scales, and learned phrases from Prez, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and countless show tunes from the 20s to the 50s. With a good pair of sunglasses and a shabby suit I fancied myself pretty cool, but in retrospect, I doubt anyone else did.
    Later still, in my late 30s, in the midst of a life crisis, I threw all this over and started playing loud, aggressive punk music because it was how I was feeling at the time. For the first time in my life I found audiences reacting with true enthusiasm rather than mild approval or even mere tolerance. Why? in comparison with the rock and jazz I had been playing, punk was megaprimitive, so it can't have been about technique - I believe that people were reacting to the sheer raw energy and honesty of what I was doing, and I realized that speed, precision, tone, and all the goals I had set myself were as nothing compared with just communicating honestly with the listener.
    Fortunately, I stopped wanting to destroy everything including myself some twenty years ago, and no longer feel it necessary to bash out "Born to lose" or "Ain't it fun when you know you're gonna die young"; I play some swing, some rock'n'roll, some celtic music and a lot in between. I try to maintain what technique I posess, practicing about 40 minutes a day if I can manage it and performing about once a month. I have taken the lessons I learned and consider the creation of a group consciousness in the audience and the nudging of it this way or that as my highest musical goal - obviously if my technique is deficient that's not going to happen, but equally as important is the communication with the listeners, both verbally and musically; if that isn't totally honest, I might as well give up and just try to get them to dance (which happens as often as not - you can't win them all).
    To sum up, I believe it's not just important to know what you want to play; if you don't examine the why, no matter how fast you can play, or how wonderful your tone, you will remain dissatisfied.
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

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  21. #16

    Default Re: A word of encouragement (but maybe not)

    One of the really fun things being involved in an open mic is seeing people go from truly awful, to just plain bad, to almost listenable, to barely ok. That is a big accomplishment in and of itself, and having the fortitude to keep climbing on the horse is itself admirable. The process is its own reward. I tend to think sometimes I'm getting quite good, feeling pretty good about myself, then someone comes along to remind me I'm not so far along after all, not that I didn't know already.

    Just progressing has to be the motive, having fun the reward. I'm doing a trio gig for the first time with two other writers. We are each playing two or three different instruments. Twenty four songs, sixteen which are other people's compositions. Four rehearsals spread over two months. That is a lot of bass and mandolin parts to work out. We can sort of do it, which is great in itself. For sure it will be fun. It's the first time I'll play original material with backup. You really only need one really good musician (not me) to sound good.

    You should get out of your comfort zone. If you play bluegrass, try Celtic .If you play on the couch, go play and open mic or at church. If people are better than you, it's a blessing not a curse. Playing with people is a huge motivating factor on the journey.
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