Start in the shallow end

Updated: Aug 15

The study and practice of being a musician requires pure simplicity. When learning to develop your practice, you can see and feel around you complexity, yet when you are first learning your instrument, the inevitable and more complex aspects do not require your immediate attention.

Similar to observing art, tasting new food, listening to new music, we typically arrive and open ourselves up to the journey. Learning to remain as empty of expectations as possible we gradually let the complexity of things come to us. The more you can be an observer, the more open and present you become and the more rewarding the experience is.

Learning new skills at an instrument is not unlike learning to get your balance for the first time on a beam in the school yard, or learning to swim for the first time, sorting out when you might let go of the side of the pool and trust you might make it from one side of the pool to the other, or perhaps just one corner of the pool to the other.

Playing a musical instrument, much like swimming, becomes more and more natural and even second nature. There are always new possibilities, new obstacles and new thresholds of skill and discovery around every corner. Start in the shallow end, and remain attentive and curious. Enjoy the process. Respect the part of you that has arrived for each session by respecting your own time and being fully engaged, attentive, patient and playful. We do not improve or gain new skills through contemplation. Begin in the shallow end, apply yourself, and the rest will follow.