The Art of Practising

Learning new things can be really difficult. It’s awkward and you want to give up and you compare yourself to all the people who can already do it really well and you wish you were good.

But that’s what learning is. Learning is about the ups and the downs and being happy and being frustrated. It comes with anything new.

We all have to learn new things. If not, we stick to the things we’ve always known and we don’t get that sense of exploring and growing.

When I was younger, I learned to play the flute. Because I was pretty young, I don’t remember most of the awkward-stage. I remember learning to keep my arms up straight and parallel to the ground, and I remember playing this one awful song over and over and I remember the many, many tears shed over the difficulties of learning something new. And when it’s something like that, everyone can hear the awkward process.

Someone can hear me play flute now and they’ll say ‘wow, you’re really good’. But they didn’t see the mornings I had to get up early to go to practise, they didn’t see the afternoons spent playing the same scale over and over, and they didn’t see grumpy-Sarah when she had to keep practising. She just wanted to be good without putting in the effort.

I’m in the process of learning guitar, at the newer end of things. It’s awkward, it’s really awkward. My hands can’t do what my brain is telling them and the sound isn’t always pretty. I look at someone else who can play barre chords easily and quickly without thinking about it, and then I look at the clumsy way I change chords and the way I can’t hold a bar chord, because my hand really dislikes that position.

I don’t like practising in front of people because they can hear the awkwardness. They can hear me play the same four chords over and over as I try to get it right and they can hear all the times it goes wrong. I hate that part. Why can’t they hear me once I’ve been playing for ten years?

There’s always a mixed response. It’s partly joyful, because you’re trying the thing you’ve always wanted to do but never done and now you’re trying it which is exciting and you can see yourself in fifty years being all knowledgeable about it. But then there’s the other part, the other part that wants to stop because it’s really hard. And you look at that ten year old who’s better than you and you think why do I even bother with this!?

Keep going. Keep trying.

Sarah xx

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