Discipline and direction in music.

A few years back I attended a special “make a joyful noise” kind of worship service. The music director brought every portable instrument she had and handed them out to anyone who wanted to play. I received a djembe. Though I had no idea what the proper technique was, I happily thumped away at the thing until my palms were red and sore.

In reality, percussion and rhythm are some of my weaker points–so when I saw a flyer last month for a beginning rhythm and African percussion class offered locally, I decided to take the plunge.

It’s nice to be in an actual class with an actual teacher there to observe and correct my technique. I don’t think I’ve had a real instrumental music teacher since I took piano in high school thirteen years ago; I’ve forgotten how valuable the presence of one is. YouTube tutorials and looking in the mirror can only get you so far.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t have a lot of self-discipline. Even back when I had a teacher you’d have to chain me the piano to get me to practice twenty minutes a day. My parents weren’t terribly strict about it, either; they tended to be more invested in my moral development than stick-to-itiveness. Which I suppose is important, too, though I had to play some hard catch-up in college when it turned out my study habits were not up to snuff with their rigorous liberal arts curriculum.

I think (hope) I have a little more discipline now than I did in high school; I’m intrigued by the things I learned this week and maybe will come home with a rented djembe sometime soon? The issue now is finding direction for all the instruments I want to become proficient at. My “musical goals” are pretty vague; I just know I enjoy the heck out of music and I’d like to explore composition and arrangement. I have a pretty good keyboard and a small assortment of odd but good folk instruments, and I’d like to develop skills worthy of them.


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