How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Guitar Recitals

Back in December, I got to watch my son have his first guitar recital.

He’s 7 years old, and though we bought the smallest guitar we could find, it was still a couple of sizes too big for him.  But he worked hard on it, practicing every night, without fully knowing what a recital would entail.

That day, he sat in the crowd in his black vest and chevron tie, his little legs swinging off the edge of the church pew.  I sat next to him, holding his guitar and watched him as he noticed every single person who filed in for the performance.  His eyes got big–like they would on Christmas morning.  I started to worry that he was nervous.

So many people.  So.  Very.  Many.  People.

His name was called, and calmly he stood, picked up his black (and too big) guitar, and walked on stage.  His teacher smiled a small, slight smile at him while my son put his music on the stand.  He sat down and cradled the instrument on his lap.  He took a deep breath and gripped his pick tight.

“You think he’s nervous?”  My wife asked.  I shrugged.

His instructor nodded at him, and suddenly, his instrument sprung to life.  There he was, on stage with tons of people looking at him, performing “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”.  A very sloooooooow “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”.  But my son wasn’t fazed.  He had concentration, he had gusto, and he had confidence.

I had never been more proud.

After he was done, his teacher nodded his head at my son, indicating that he had done a good job.  My boy smiled and then gathered his stuff and walked back to his seat.  He sat much like he had before, dangling his legs and looking at all the people.

Afterwards, my wife asked our boy if he had gotten nervous.  He just shrugged.

“I practiced a lot,” was his only reply.

The thing about it that struck me is how it applied to me.  Too often I had allowed myself to get psyched out about sharing my work with people.  I got too caught up in the idea that I had failed, or was going to fail.

That I sucked.

The reason I love this blog is because of the parallel nature of both music and writing.  You can have talent in both.  You can get enjoyment from both.  And, if you’re so inclined, you can share this with those out there.  And, if you start staring at the crowd, it can eat a hole in your stomach.  It can convince you that you suck before you even start out and try.

But a little 7-year-old boy got in front of nearly a hundred people and played his little heart out.  He wasn’t the best.  He wasn’t a prodigy.  But he was trying.  And he was prepared.  And that preparation gave him all the confidence in the world.

So, get to writing.  Sit down and start putting words to paper.  Journal every day.  Read as many books as you can find and circle the words that strike you as beautiful.  Keep a notebook of great words available to you at all times.  Reread your favorite passages.  Write just to write everyday.  Jot lines of dialogue that you hear other people say during the day.

Then, when you put your work out there, you’ll find it less daunting.  Less heart attack inducing.  Less stressful.  Less able to make you feel like you suck.

Practice makes perfect, sure.  Practice makes confidence?  Of course it does.

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