Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

How do we deal with challenges and discomfort?


I live in a part of Oregon where riding a bike means a long, steep hill climb and a white-knuckle descent.


When I was younger, I hated climbing the hills. It took way too much time and effort. There was absolutely no fun in moving along at 5 mph and stopping every 5 minutes to catch my breath.


Now I love the climb. I love the feeling of pushing myself up the hill. The strength and patience it requires. The quiet that exists as I move forward slowly. My fear of not making it up the hill and my fear of discomfort, grew into confidence and anticipation of the downhill fun.


One of the ways I grew my confidence was knowing when to stop climbing and turn around to enjoy the ride downhill. I became better and better at knowing when enough was enough. If I pushed too far (or I followed someone stronger than me too far and too fast) I inevitably would not want to ride for the next few days or weeks.


I use that same idea in my own playing and in teaching. I tell my students their goal is to get the song to where they feel confident they can play the song with friends. We call it jamming level. When they tell me they are at jamming level, we shoot a video and call it good. I don't want my students to burn out on a song. They will want this music when they are older.


Some things in life require us to push past discomfort. Exam week in college. An important project at work. Emotional losses. Life gives us plenty of things that test our limits. But playing music does not need to be one of these things.


Music is, in fact, an activity that helps when those unavoidable moments in life happen. And it's a resource worth treating carefully.