Of course, at age 12, I had no way of understanding most of what I was going to go through during the next 10 years -- musically or otherwise -- even if I could pass the wisdom of hindsight back to that version of me. But I realized that I am still struggling with many of the same things 40 years along, so taking a moment to articulate that advice for myself seemed like a useful exercise. If I am fortunate, I will be more capable of heeding it in my middle- and old-age than I was in my adolescence.
Sixteen Things I Would Tell My 12-Year-Old Self Taking up Viola
- This instrument has a beautiful voice. Let yourself fall in love with it.
- To play certain kinds of music, you may need to follow some rules. However, there aren’t actually any rules.
- You can play anything on this instrument that your skill will allow. (Go ahead; play Led Zeppelin if you want.)
- If you don't have the skill to play what you want, let that be the reason to practice.
- Practice does not require suffering, but it does require effort. Keep at it.
- It’s okay to make practice fun. It’s also okay for it to be intense.
- Listen for what wants to be played.
- Letting yourself go may be scary, but taking risk is the only way to real satisfaction.
- Make horrible noises.
- Experiment. Dangerously.
- If you ever start to wonder why you’re doing this, stop what you’re doing and just play what feels good.
- Learn to measure others' feedback against your own sense of what works. Give yourself time for this.
- Every teacher has something to offer you. Listen especially closely to the ones that lead you to wonder.
- Be inspired.
- Put your inspiration to use.
- When in doubt, go with what feels true.