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Stick with it!

Posted by luthier99 on Monday, November 5, 2007

Over the years I've learned a thing or two about learning curves.  I have been both a student and a teacher.  I've studied and taught martial arts, guitar, snowboarding, and woodworking.  The learning curve varies slightly for each activity, but some things remain constant.  For example, when learning any of these activities, generally people learn alot very quickly, then forget a little, level off for a while and learn a bunch again.  If I where to draw a line to represent this, the line would start in an upwards direction and then begin to curve back down just slightly.  Then the line would travel straight a little and begin to climb upwards again, repeating the process over, each time making the peak a little higher.  Sometimes, during the "straight line" people become discouraged and feel they are no longer progressing, but determination and persaverance pays off when they begin to improve again.  I've found that this learning curve will continue indefinitly, pertaining to even the most basic of study.  Martial arts is a great example for this.  The great samurai masters will practice the most basic sword strike as many as 1000 times a day, even after years of study.  This is because they understand that perfection is something to strive for, not to reach.  One of my stringed instrument building instructors, John Reuiter, had a great analogy for this.  He said that study is like a donut.  You start at the outside of the donut, and through practice you move towards the center, the center perfection, but you never reach the center, you just keep trying to get there (we always put donuts on his desk in the morning for him to find :).  Even the belt system in most martial arts represents this.  You start as a white belt, with no knowledge of the art.  Then you progress to black belt, a difficult and educational process.  What the black belt represents is an understanding of the basics, and the right to begin learning.  Through many more years of dedication and increased study, eventually some with reach the status of master.  The belt color that represents this status is often white, signifying a return to understanding the lack of knowledge towards perfecting this art.  Like the donut, the martail artist has trained in a full circle.  I respect anyone and everyone who dares to try and reach the center of the donut via never giving up.  If you find something interesting and worth study, only a life time of practice will lead to understanding even the most basic of questions, like why am I doing this?  So if you find something you enjoy, don't ever stop searching for the center of the donut.  Remember that your journey won't always be fun or easy, but that the journey is what is improtant.  I am impressed by anyone who has taken the time to read this far into my rant, and look forward to any comments on never reaching perfection.

5 comments on “Stick with it!”

Stev187 Says:
Monday, November 5, 2007 @11:46:27 AM

Thanks for writing this!  It comes at a good time for me to read it!

Hopalong Says:
Monday, November 5, 2007 @12:02:53 PM

Excellent Read. Somedays I sound great and other days I can't put two correct notes together. Somedays I can put together a new arrangement of a previously unknown tune at the drop of a pick. Others, I can't remember what I learned the day before. Somedays I pick up the banjo and it is as light as an Earl Scruggs lick, and others it is a huge weight on my shoulder. But in the end it was alwyas a joy to have played. hopalong Peter

walhooey Says:
Thursday, December 27, 2007 @11:31:31 AM

you hit the proverbial nail on the  head.  By the way i would like to see  you rebuild <  I did  a slingerland  myself and  have  a photo shoot  on  my  page.  Walhooey

banjo_robb Says:
Sunday, December 30, 2007 @9:20:07 AM

Beautifully said, Brian!  Life is definitely all about the JOURNEY!
Thanks for this piece you wrote.  I have forwarded it to several dear friends & family members.  It is extremely motivating!

Banjochicky Says:
Tuesday, March 4, 2008 @9:32:40 PM

You wrote me a while back, but I'm not sure if you got my message.  So here it is again...


In response to your question....I suggest that you get your young child a toy guitar and other musical things that make noise.  Play music at your house often and dance around with him/her in your arms and with each other.  Get silly with it.  Sing together--to the radio and stuff.  That's what I did with my girls and they both have turned out very interested in music.  Nevermind the nearly 10 years of piano lessons costing lots of money.....They could just about care less about reading music and playing piano.  Now they both love playing mostly guitar and singing (which is fine by me).  Though they both can read piano music, they mostly enjoy playing by ear.  But I still do advise you to get your kid started with some kind of lesosns (piano, guitar, banjo, or even drums) as early as maybe seven years old.  Mine started younger, but I think seven or eight years old is probably better.  Sorry for the rambling, but I hope this helps you decide to get your kid going with the music.  Keep me posted!  Joy (BanjoChicky)

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