“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Yesterday morning as I was starting the day with my morning cup, I grabbed the banjo and this song spilled out:
For those of you who know the song, this rendition is considerably slower in pace than the up tempo original. There’s nothing too fancy going in with the picking of it.
And I really like it.
It seems to be a universal human tendency to see increasing complexity as a marker of increasing quality. We’re wired to think we can naturally make something better by adding more to it.
This seems especially true in the world of banjo, where the desire to play faster is perhaps the most common lament, and where increasing technical expertise is the predominant yardstick of progress.
Yet, the longer I play music, and the more revolutions I take around the sun, the more I find quality in subtraction.
In taking things away. In leaving out a note. In letting things breathe. In omitting needless words.
And, on the flip side, how often adding more makes things feel smaller.
So if you who think you can’t play good music, or be a bonafide banjo player, or delight friends and family until you’ve reached some imagined minimum standard of picking proficiency, think again. That has little to do with it.
Take your time. Savor what you can already do, worry less about what you can’t.
No matter where you’re at on your musical journey, more than likely you’re already capable of making greater music than you realize.
You could spend an entire lifetime just mining the riches hidden inside the simple.
(RELATED: A central mission of the Breakthrough Banjo course is to demonstrate and provide you with great music you can make at any point in your learning journey. Click here to learn more.)
2 finger version
I also recorded a version in 2 finger style (taught in the Breakthrough Banjo course for fingerstyle), which you can hear below: