The Ups and Downs of Learning and Playing Music


in Learning Music

As another year comes around to a close it's time for a little reflection and to take stock in the highs and lows of my music.

The past year has been a very tremulous time for me with some real ups and downs. On the up side I've had several new projects which I've been existed about and put a tremendous amount of effort into them. 

On the down side I've had some personal and professional issues that demanded my complete attention. Both the ups and the downs have taken my focus away from my pursuit of music.

It's been hard however, to say that this is a good or bad thing. It's just become a redirection of focus where my drive has not been in the pursuit of music, but in other things where I've placed more value. My intensity of life did not waver, but my attention to music did wane.

I believe this pull to other objectives happens to all of us and then we can get discouraged by not being able to put in the time we wished with our music. I for one sat down this last weekend and tried to learn some new easy songs or just improvise and felt so very weak and disappointed in my performance and how my skill level had significantly dropped.

Making Choices

Overlooking Narrowest Part of Grand Canyon

This year I saw a completion of a choice which I made to raft the river in the Grand Canyon for 14 straight days with my best friends. That effort actually took over a year of preparation as we did this as a private party and not a guided one. (We have nearly a decade of river rafting on and off together and a passion for seeking the adventure with restraint, in this photo you see the narrowest part of the Grand Canyon behind us).

Taking on a choice like that forced me into much less attention to my music pursuits. You saw it here on the blog as I've requested and used many guest authors. Some good, some not so much. I've also personally saw my skills in performance and dexterity and creative flow diminish significantly. 

Consequences of Choice

All our choices have such consequences, I've seen my pursuit ebb and flow from time to time. I feel the “want” of doing more with my music and the “conflict of time” or obligation based on the choices I've made.

Each of you have or will go through some similar process. As the new year approaches this is a good time to determine what your focus will be. I do hope it will be on music, but if it can not be, allow yourself some room to breath and set a point in time to get back to it.

For me, I am setting a new goal for a 6 month period to reestablish my musical interests.

I'll be learning a few new easy pieces that have been setting in the back of my mind and need to be tackled. It will start with taking a few minutes every day to start practicing some basic scale and chord exercises to get back in the swing of things. (yes, pun intended) I need to regain some dexterity and improvement my playing skills.

I'll be looking at creation again, maybe revisiting the Improvising for Real or refreshing some advanced concepts from Materials of Music. Maybe it'll be just sitting down relaxing and seeing what happens for 30 minutes when I close my eyes, play, and just listen to my heart.

Your journey's have been great as well

I've heard back from many of you on the theory course, and it's been positive. Some of you have found what you needed to help you understand and learn the language of music. A few have had a struggle as the information has overwhelmed the ability to absorb and translate to instrument.

For those that struggle it becomes a frustrating experience and I empathize with you. Often times you are trying to take on to much to soon. And you probably need a mentor to help clarify and reinforce the vast amount of information you have to process.

Because of the aforementioned challenges I've face, I haven't produced additional video or materials to help with that and alas have had to suggest a modified use of one of the learning methods we utilize.  I've suggested that you study the written materials and then augment that by searching out video instruction to help you understand the same thing from another viewpoint or angle. 

I've also promoted that you try to find a mentor that can explain it as well. Our course materials are well organized and flow in topic from easy to complex, but when a person does get stumped it is always helpful to find that live mentor to ask about it. I help when I can, but alas you must take the time needed to internalize and understand the principles for yourself.

I've seen a lot of you receive the lessons and email follow ups and gain better understanding of this language called music. I truly hope that you make a choice to keep music in your path as the other passions of this world pull and tug at your heart and mind.

Best wishes and peace be with you on your life journey.


Sibylle Ingeborg Preuschat December 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

Brad, Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2014, and fulfilling times pursuing music!

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