Thankful that practice makes [almost] perfect

sheet-musicI am a mediocre musician. And I’m not just saying that, either. I took up the viola in the third grade, but the reason that I am mediocre is that I didn’t start practicing until about four years ago, after I showed up for a high school musical pit band rehearsal and pretty much couldn’t find my place for two and a half hours.

From this experience I learned a very important lesson:

Practicing (that is, practicing your butt off) really does make a difference.

After I’d picked up all my belongings from the twisted wreckage of the derailed locomotive that was that rehearsal, I decided to throw a little practice time at the music. At the next rehearsal, I found myself thinking, “Has the conductor slowed the tempo down, because I’m kind of getting 80% of the notes now,” and “Hey, I didn’t play that sour note! It was that horn over there!!” and “You know, it really does sound better when you play all of the flats in the key signature.”

So now here I am, less than two weeks before the first Dover Symphony Orchestra* performance of the season, and I’m practicing pretty much every night. I probably would have started sooner, but I’m finally familiar enough with the melodies that go with the alto oompah-pahs in my part, that I can kind of make sense of them in my head. I think I’m making progress (the kids asked me to “play the fast part” tonight—bless ‘em, they actually think I can play it!!!), and I’m thankful that they’re around to observe my conscientious work ethic (which by some might be interpreted as robust procrastination followed by desperate scrambling, but, seriously, since I’m the one putting in the bow mileage I’ll call it whatever I want).

Yet more proof of good results comes from my friend Trish, who told me today that she hears beautiful music coming from my house and asked me what instrument I play.

I’m thankful that the practice is paying off, so I guess I’ll keep it up. For the Symphony, for the neighborhood, and for me.

*This first DSO performance this season will be on October 18th at 3:00 pm at the Schwartz Center in Dover. The program is called “The Dover Symphony Goes to the Animals” and features The Pink Panther, Memory, a Swan Lake medley, music from Jurassic Park, and more. Adults are $20 and kids are (get this!!) FREE! Call 734-1701 for tickets. And if you like cellos, we’ve got 13 of ‘em this time around—hopefully the stage won’t tip to one side (although that could make for quite a show).


  1. October 9, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I played trombone for six years – concert band, symphonic band, all state band and marching band. It was fun. I haven’t played in over 15 years. Of course, the fact that I sold it right after I got married might have something to do with that. 🙂

    Keep up the good work!


  2. scheirmad said,

    October 9, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for the encouragement, Donna.

    And get yourself a new trombone, would you? The world can use as much beautiful music as it can get!!


  3. October 9, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I’m afraid any future attempts at trombone playing would result in a fine from the local noise police. Sounding like a dying cow is NOT my idea of beautiful music. 😉

  4. Cheryl said,

    October 9, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I’m sure you’re being hard on yourself.



  5. yanangski said,

    October 13, 2009 at 5:44 am

    wow! very encouraging and very true. ^_^ i also play the viola, and there’s just a satisfaction when you know you’ve practiced your parts and you can play all the notes right (on right the beat), there’s a feeling of accomplishment. 🙂

    haha! i want to practice NOW! 😀

    • scheirmad said,

      October 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm

      Hey there! Thanks for chiming in! Violas rock, yes?

      I’m not sure that I can play everything on the program at this point, but I was at about 50% of Rossini’s Thieving Magpie last night, and that was cause for high fives all around. If you’ve ever played it, then you know what I mean. At least I knew where I was in the music. Maybe I can just hum my part!

      Take care,

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