Liminal Luminous

The shining threshold
creativity Living well

Going deeper

At the end of last year I passed my grade 6 flute, which I am very proud of. When I joined my band I was grade three, and January marked the start of my fourth year in the band. In the exams I do – ABRSM – you have to take Grade 5 theory before you are allowed to do grade 6. I honestly think this was the hardest thing I have done, much harder than my MA. My friends on Facebook were treated to a lot of swearing about it!

Partly I think is because it is harder to learn as an adult, not least because of time pressures. It’s partly because I hadn’t done the theory as I did each grade (I didn’t want to), but had to learn all five grades in one go. I think the fact that I resented doing it didn’t help. There was one point when it finally clicked and everything made so much sense. I remain grateful for my extremely patient teacher.

I take great pleasure in playing my flute, because I am getting to a decent standard now – please note I am not claiming to be fantastic, just good! Being in my band is no longer hugely frustrating, but much more enjoyable. They recommend you are grade 5 to join, and that is for a good reason, the pieces are exceptionally hard. There is a joy to be had in being good at something, and working hard for that ability. I have worked hard, and I continue to do so. I have an hour’s music lesson each week, go to band and generally do at least an hour of practice each day, often more.

I got a piano last Christmas and after moodling about on it for a while I am now seriously studying it. It feels so much harder than the flute right now, being right back at beginner level is challenging. There is no getting away from it, learning to play music is hard (unless you are truly gifted). You have to put the time and effort in. But I know from my continued flute studies that is worth all the time.

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric around that you can achieve the perfect body in ten minutes a day, meditate your way to calm in 5 minutes a day. Speed read books in half an hour. That’s not the way that life works. Anything worth having takes time and effort. That’s not the same as pain and struggle, you can enjoy things which require effort, but you have to put the work in if you want to go deeper.

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