Tonight I went to a rehearsal for Sunday's church service, which will be a joint service with a nearby Presbyterian church, full of folk songs. I took Chris along to do some drumming. The visiting musicians played guitar, banjo, and mandolin.
The mandolin player put me to shame--he was kick-ass good. Afterward, I asked him how long he'd been playing mandolin. "A year or two--not very long. But I played the guitar for 10 years before that." As if that should make me feel better. I've had my mandolin for 4 years (didn't play it much until 2 years ago) and have played the guitar for 34 years!!! As if the guitar playing helps any (the chords are completely different). Just when I was beginning to feel more comfortable on the mandolin! (He did also mention that he had lots of disposable time...ya think?)
The guy who is leading the music is a fairly new member, and he is also a "beginning banjo player." He played the banjo like this guy played the mandolin, though. (Reminds me of when I played ping pong with Mike in the early years of our relationship--after he told me that he wasn't very good--and promptly whipped me soundly--before confessing that he played a lot of ping pong in boarding school.)
I have thought about this theory before, but now I am quite certain of it...it's completely a generalization, but here it is: when men pick up an instrument, they spend as much spare time as possible mastering it. It's true of most male musicians I know. We often go to concerts with some good friends of ours--Dave and Christie--and each evening when they return home from a concert, Dave stays up late at night writing music and playing his guitar! When I was growing up, when male friends started learning the guitar, they would close themselves up in their bedroom, practicing for hours on end. I've never been like that. I've spent probably 20 hours total (in 2 years), on my own, practicing the mandolin. Too many other interesting things to do, I suppose.
When I came home and told Mike about the talented mandolin player, Chris told me to stop putting myself down. I kept telling him that I wasn't doing that...it's not a personal thing at all. I love listening to talented musicians!
Which leads me to another conclusion about myself: I am a dabbler (not to mention a lazy musician). I have dabbled in music throughout my life, playing violin, guitar, cello, organ, piano, and mandolin. I have dabbled in arts and crafts--having done cross-stitch, pottery, drawing, sewing, calligraphy, beading, card making and paper crafts, scrapbooking, mosaic, faux finish painting, batik painting, weaving, letterpress printing, book arts, Japanese calligraphy, fused glass, and knitting. Never have I stayed with one particular thing to get kick-ass good. It's just something I'll have to accept about myself. Perhaps one day I will be able to focus a huge amount of time into music, or some form of art. But maybe it's just not in my personality.
I'm a dabbler, and I'm kick-ass good at dabbling. So there.