Hang in There!

Faith, Evidence and Practice

When learning a challenging new skill, we take a leap of faith that we’ll be able to do it. We feel uncertainty and fear, but also excitement and joy. But for the long haul, we’ll need more than just faith. We’ll need to see some evidence that our practice is working.

  • I may not be able to do it now, but if I continue to practice I will get better.
  • Faith that things will get done.
    • I feel overwhelmed by all the tasks before me. But things are getting done.
  • I feel insufficient as a musician, a teacher, a partner, a businessperson.
    • But this feeling will change. Have faith in this.
    • Observe that you’ve overcome other challenges.
  • Have faith that you’ll make it through the day.
  • Evidence supports this faith.
    • If I take note of what is difficult for me now (in a practice journal), I can look back on this later and see that this is no longer a problem.
    • I will have new problems in the future, but they are also impermanent.
    • I see that if I continue to learn incrementally (micro-practice) and play consistently, it becomes more fun. And fun is not over-rated.
  • Action: Do what you can right now:
    • Play every day.
    • Work on something challenging every day, but also spend time just enjoying the sound of a simple tune you know well. This will keep you going.
    • Do your best to let go of the anxiety you feel about unfinished things.
  • This is a form of kindness.
  • Hang in there 😍

Further reading

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9 responses to “Hang in There!

  1. I remember when I first found you Jason, Whiskey Before Breakfast was my nemesis.
    I had been trying to learn that and Flop Eared Mule for quite some time. Studying your videos, remember to just stop and listen when I’m discouraged, finding those notes in the difficult parts.
    When I want to turn my fiddle into toothpicks, I try to just bring it down to 1 Note, 1 Tune 10 Minutes. Loop it…Loop it…Loop it…Loop it..Loop it…
    It’s all working together to keep me going. Now when I look back, I’m pleased. Whiskey Before Breakfast is one of my favorite songs to play and I often use it as a warm-up or as a base to try new tricks. (I can play that darned ole Flop Eared Mule too)
    I wish there was a way to stop your full play audio and loop it where I need it in there. Playing by myself to practice a loop, then getting that little hard spot in time to play with you or others is proving to be harder at times than I care to admit. I’m working hard though…and dreaming big.
    I know I’m getting there because now my computer now pulls up your page when I type an “F” before it pulls up “Facebook.”
    Hells yeah!

  2. Jason, you are right on the mark! Thanks for sending this bundle of encouragement to all of us. Always good to hear positivity and knowing I’m not alone on this journey. There are improvements and my recordings are a testimony; painful to listen to, but there is improvement.
    Like we use to say….Keep on truck’n!
    Got nothing to lose.
    Thanks for all you do for us!

  3. Jason,

    Really like the post on faith. Yesterday was one of those days when practice was not coming easy at all, Remembering your teaching, I eventually let it go for the day, as I left for my part time job at the Y. I have been keeping a journal, but stalled on it two weeks ago. Thanks for the reminder to “keep it up.” Arthritis in my hands is an added disadvantage, but even that, at this point I can work thru. I have progressed quite a bit in 2 1/2 years with your instruction.

    I suppose faith works at all ages, all conditions and my “fiddle journey” is real and still brings me joy, with a little “sting” of doubt.

    Thanks for the lessons. Working on “Win That Shakes The Barley”, Triplet Scales and “Club Ceili” currently.

    Owen O’Malley

  4. Nice email. Thanks for your frequent communications to encourage this learning community. In your last office hours, I related to the “Make friends with the E string” comment. Recently I am working on Hector the Hero. When I first watched that video months ago I thought it was way too challenging for me. Now, it’s that beautiful tune waltz practice that is helping me slow down and get more bow control, pulling it all the way smoothly for those 1/2 notes and just enjoying the tone as well as note reading practice. (I am curious though about a couple separate measures in the sheet music that don’t seem to have 3 beats as in the 3/4 time.)
    When I record tunes I have worked on previously it sounds so much better now than it did 6 months ago. This takes patience and practice but it is very rewarding. I just started learning Banshee and I am doing alot of micro practice on that to get the rhythm and accent beats.

  5. I have been doing a little self-recording in the form of sending my grandkids a tune for the day. Good or not so good, they get a big kick out of it (they are 13 & 14 yrs old). Sometimes I’ll re-name a tune to relate to them in some way. It’s fun for me, makes me listen to my own progress, and often I get a “Good job, Grandma, or….this one I love. “getting better….”

    Thanks for all you do for us, Jason


  6. I love this compassionate note. The very idea of perfection is immobilizing. I am an artist, a painter and I deal with a lack of confidence with many of my paintings, (despite evidence to the contrary). Doubt sits on my shoulder and if I listen to it my life becomes hard. The suggestion of actually having fun! and forgiving yourself for being human is greatly appreciated! And also, I have noticed, in my violin practice and my painting, that improvement does not follow a strait upward line. Seems more like a roller coaster ride!

    1. Hey @Lori,

      Lots of good things in what you said. When you practice every day you often can’t even notice any progress. It’s like trying to see the moon move across the sky. You can’t actually see it move in the moment, but if you look away for an hour, you clearly see a difference…

      Good is better than perfect!