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    • #25706
      Jim Guinn

      What are my expectations as an almost-senior-citizen learning how to play the fiddle? As an older person, I haven’t consciously tried to learn a new skill in quite a while. Yes, I’ve learned new skills, but there were no self-imposed performance expectations. I just kind of learned as I went along, i.e. gardening, wood-working projects, running my own home business. When something didn’t work out, or it took me a while to learn something to a point of proficiency, I just went with the flow. I had no pre-conceived milestones, markers or deadlines. And, most of all, I made sure I was enjoying myself. Now, I have put my mind to learning how to play the fiddle. I am making a conscious effort. I am following progressive lessons, each one requiring a level of proficiency before moving onto the next lesson. So, what are my expectations?

      Expectations can be a real obstacle to learning, proficiency and enjoyment. While I keep telling myself I just want to play as well as I can, I have already found that I can easily get frustrated when I don’t learn something right away. Heck, I’m an adult; I should be able to “get this” faster.

      A couple of days ago I learned my first basic tune, Boil ’em Cabbage Down. First, I plucked it, phrase by phase; then, I plucked the entire piece. Next, I bowed it, phrase by phrase; then, I bowed the entire piece. I kept playing it over and over until I got through it, and it sounded pretty good. Then, I played it even more, and it sounded better. One lesson learned! The next day, I went to play the same tune, and it sounded horrible. Hmm. I had to start again, not at square one, but I had to go back pretty far. Yesterday, the same thing happened, but not quite as bad as the day before.

      I found myself getting frustrated. I found myself thinking, maybe I made a mistake; I shouldn’t be trying to learn the fiddle. I should be able to do this. I was getting tense, trying to power my way through it. I wasn’t enjoying this! Then, a voice whispered in my ear, “It’s alright. Just do the best you can right now. You’ll get better.” I sat back, collected my thoughts, took a few deep breaths, reminded myself I am the newest of beginners, and then laughed. I wound up having an excellent practice. I didn’t do things perfectly, but I did them well enough. I was pleased and happy.

      When I started my home business, I knew nothing about running a business. I knew and assumed, however, I would get better at it and grow it if I stuck to it, learned what it takes to run a business, kept trying, had patience, and enjoyed myself. Now, in my fourteenth year, I have grown my business by leaps and bounds since that first year. Can I apply these same principles to learning the fiddle?

      Getting better and better at playing the fiddle will take the same realistic expectations that I applied to learning my home business, growing vegetables from seed, or seeing a wood working project through to completion. Dedication. Knowledge. Practice. Patience. Fun.

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