Twenty years ago, I graduated from The College of New Jersey with the education required to become a music teacher.
I’ve become really good at teaching. But at music? Mediocre at best.
Historically, I’ve been a fast learner without much grit. It took a lot of life before anything crossed my path that I was motivated to do better than I needed. Things were typically done well, but nothing was exceptional or in more depth than necessary.
As a result, I always played my instruments enough to be able to play what I needed for school, and sometimes songs for fun, but never songs harder than what was offered. (My parents’ refusal to pay for music lessons—because I had a music teacher at school and why would they pay for another one?—compounded this when I finally had a bit of interest.)
When I got to college, I wasn’t very good. And I didn’t think I could catch up. (Changing to trombone changed that mindset substantially, but that’s another story.)
I was extremely self-conscious about my skill level. I hated practicing. (The practice rooms were not sound-proof and I didn’t like that people could hear me). Ensemble practices were stressful.
Most of the hours and hours every day that I spent in the music building were at least twinged—if not completely fraught—with anxiety.
Decades have passed. I’ve had some musical milestones that I was proud of. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing. And, most recently, I’ve stopped playing in ensembles. Nowadays, most of the time, music is fun again.
Over the summer, we were on campus to meet a friend for lunch.
We walked into the music building, and the old familiar anxiety crept in.
It was so odd and so familiar and I thought it funny that after all this time, when I walked in with no expectations (and definitely not to play), it was still there.
Makes me wonder what else I have this reaction to…and how, after I find it, I can get rid of it.