I’m reminded of that saying, “The mind is like a taco: the more you cram into it, the more will fall out.” I studied Spanish for five years and can only remember a handful of useless phrases. I majored in math and can’t solve a differential equation to save my life.
Although I’ve accepted that I can no longer speak Spanish or do complicated math, I’m still in denial about certain previous abilities. Despite the fact that I haven’t played on a regular basis in over a decade, I still pretend to be a violinist. At one point, I was fairly serious about it. I played with the All-County Orchestra and was concertmistress of my high school orchestra. I even won an award in high school for “Most Musical.” But when I got to college, I gave up the violin in favor of partying.
Now, when I do take out my violin and attempt to play a piece from one of my old Suzuki books, I get frustrated and quit in a matter of minutes. About a year ago, I decided to trick myself into relearning the violin by tackling a different style of music: Irish fiddling. The inspiration for this idea came from a pub I used to frequent in New York called O’Neill’s. Every Saturday and Sunday night, traditional Irish musicians gather around a table to drink beer and play amazing music. Here’s a picture from one of their tune sessions:
Photo Courtesy of Jimmy O’Kelly
Every time I went to O’Neill’s, I would say – with drunken confidence – that I was going to play the fiddle in an Irish jam session one day.
When I moved to Austin, I actually found a pub that hosts intermediate Irish musicians on Sunday nights. I went to check it out last weekend, and the bar patrons seemed more interested in the pre-season football game than the live music, but that’s probably a good thing – fewer people who would notice my mistakes.
So yesterday, I dusted off my violin and played “The Irish Washerwoman” a dozen times. (I’m sure the neighbors love me.) Now all I need is six months of dedicated practice to make my dream a reality. I’m sure that’ll happen. Yup. Piece of cake.