That was before I had even attempted to play it. As some of you may know, I've recently started taking mandolin lessons. Learning a brand new instrument as an adult can be a humbling experience.
It's also rather embarrassing. I feel completely exposed practicing like a feeble-handed kid in front of my husband. Did I mention he was a music major?
I must be a glutton for punishment. Or my husband is. He probably didn't expect me to pick up a squeaky hillbilly instrument when he married me. I'm sure I seemed like a normal, northern, cosmopolitan lady.
I've been practicing this new instrument every day, for an hour a day. I practice until my hand aches. I practice until my fingertips burn. I have hardened callouses and the skin peels off. Sometimes I don't feel like playing but I drag the mandolin case out and my sheets of music.
Some nights, when I look at a new piece of music like Gallopede up there, I think I should just give up. There are too many notes. I'll never figure it out. Just who am a kidding, an adult trying to pick up a bizarre musical instrument when I already have more hobbies, activities, children, jobs, and social life than I need.
All of these voices of doubt play through my head and still I sit and stare at the notes. I don't close the book. I don't give up. I want to make music and feel joy in my heart. Even if I sound like a Suzuki Method player doing it.
The only way that's going to happen is if I just get in there and start plucking. Even if I hit the wrong notes. Even if I'm flat. Even if I have to decipher which three notes to play at once, or how to play a dotted quarter note before a triplet or what have you.
The other night after I Tweeted that moment of defeat: "Too many notes," I sat and I started to play through the piece. As I played, I found the melody and the notes were really much simpler than they looked. And I enjoyed playing it.
It's a reminder to me that just because something looks difficult at first, doesn't mean you can't do it. You just have to take it slow. Play it one note at a time and soon you'll find the melody.
Mando et mando.
Note: I wrote this a year ago when I'd just started the mandolin and never posted it. I'm still playing, but not particularly well. Though I must say, looking at the music for Gallopede now is laughable. It looks so easy and those notes look pretty sparsely scattered across the page.