Challenge yourself – Learn a musical instrument!

Hey, everybody! Reader here.

Many of you know that I fancy myself to be a pretty musical guy. Which makes sense, working in radio, I s’pose.

But it’s not just listening to music, but playing it, too! Since Grade Five, I’ve been playing the trumpet.

Obviously not in Grade Five. My beard was bushier back then!

I was really fortunate to have some great band teachers back home in Conquest and Outlook over the years, starting with Karen McKenzie from Grades Five through Eight, then a bit of a topsy-turvy year for the entire band program in Grade Nine, with a transitional teacher, and finally, with one of my favourite teachers ever, Tania Miller, from Grades Ten through Twelve.

(Fun Fact: Tania was born and raised in Foam Lake, and has gone on to do some amazing things, conducting orchestras around the world, and becoming the first woman to head a major Canadian orchestra, leading the Victoria Symphony from 2003 to 2017. And she’s a heck of a nice person, to boot!)

While Ms. Miller was our band director at Outlook High School (Class of ’95 over here! Go Blues!), she brought back the Jazz Band program, which was a big reason I stayed in the band right through Grade Twelve. (After that less-than-fun Grade Nine band year, I had seriously thought about quitting band. Thank goodness I didn’t!)

It was so much fun, and I discovered I had a knack for soloing, which I enjoy doing to this day, with the “All That Jazz” Community Big Band in Yorkton!

Great teachers make a big difference!

Now, I don’t just play the horn. I dabble in other instruments, too.

For years, I’ve been messing around on guitar.

Pretending to know what I’m doing on the guitar!

In music class in elementary school in Conquest, we took some guitar lessons, but I didn’t retain much.

Nowadays, I pretty much just play along with the vocal lines, or solo a bit. The big issue I have is remembering chords, and that I’m not very good at it!

But I persevere with it, along with the ukelele I got for Christmas a few years ago. I play around to sound like I kinda know what I’m doing.

Actually, my youngest brother, Barrett, is the guitar player in the family. He’s completely self-taught, and he’s gotten to be really good. He’s a big metalhead, and has a collection of guitars, which have fed his passion and helped him develop his skills.

What I’ve really been excited about lately, though is an acquisition I made about a year ago, when one of my closest friends, GX94 midday announcer Tonya Cherry, had a piano that she was looking to sell.

One thing led to another, and I found myself in possession of my very own piano!

So far, I can noodle around on it a little bit, but I think the big challenge will be training each hand to do something different.

Learning to play the bass lines with the left hand and the melody with the right will be tricky.

I also need to relearn the bass clef, as playing trumpet all these years, I’ve had no need to use it!

Out of curiosity, I did a little bit of digging, to find out what are considered to be some of the toughest instruments to learn.

It was hard to find a definitive answer tough, as it’s subjective and can vary depending on sombody’s natural aptitude, dedication, and musical background.

However, there are a few instruments that are widely considered to be among the most difficult to learn.

Among the most difficult to learn, were the violin, harp, and, of course, piano. Because why wouldn’t I try to learn something difficult? Haha!

While the piano may seem straightforward with its uniform layout of 88 keys, to master the instrument requires a deep understanding of music theory, hand coordination, and finger independence. Pianists must be able to read multiple lines of music simultaneously, play complex rhythms, and execute intricate passages all at the same time, with precision and control.

But I’m up for the challenge!

The funny thing is, when I was a kid, we had a piano at the farm, and my Mom wanted to teach me to play. But at the time, I was a kid who didn’t want to be stuck practicing piano, so I never did learn then.

And I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

But the great thing, is that you’re never too old to learn!

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the hardest instrument to learn is ultimately the one that speaks to your heart and soul. No matter which instrument you choose to pursue, the journey of learning to play music is a deeply rewarding one, that can bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment.

Even one of my musical heroes, legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, admits he’s still learning, even at the age of 80, saying in regards to his abilities on the guitar, “If you say I’m great, thank you very much. But I know what I am. I could be better, man, you know?”

So, for now, I keep collecting instruments, and working away on all of them. With time and practice, maybe I’ll even become passable at each of them!

Just adding to the collection! Unlike my spider plant and my car, none of my musical instruments have names… yet.

When it comes to music, challenge yourself! Never stop learning, and always have fun!

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