Friday, September 16, 2016


September 16, 2016 Most of the time, it's just a steady "thump, thump, thump" that along with the drums, provides the rhythmic foundation for the band. Those who really know what they're doing can really make the instrument sing with frenzied arpeggios and scales. Me? I just "thump thump" my way through the music, following the general chord structure or more often, quarter note progressions through the number. I must be getting better, though. Today at rehearsal, two different conductors and a couple of band members commented on how much my string bass was adding to the music. I had thought so simply because I like the unique sound the instrument adds to an orchestral or band mix, but having others recognize my contribution feels pretty good. I'm not the soloist, I don't provide the ringing melodies of the trumpets, trombones, or saxes, but I'm part of the foundation, and that's good enough for me. I've never thought much about it, but being recognized for your contribution to the whole makes me want to practice more; to get better at what I do. Encouragement is like that. I've known coaches whose primary tactic is criticism. Their teams show it. Criticize me, and something inside begins to wilt. Critique with encouragement, and I'm ready to take it to the next level. This morning, the writer's group I attend critiqued a children's story I wrote. I had actually made it up on the fly one afternoon as little Gemma sat in my lap. I've never written anything like that before, so I was interested to see how it would be received. One of the group, who herself writes children's books, was a bit reluctant to critique, but with my encouragement, proceeded. She was most helpful, and as I reflected on the experience, it occurred to me that the difference between criticism and critique is that the former negatively focuses on the person him or herself, while critique focuses on improving the work. It is one thing to be told that your work could improve with a few changes, or even that it needs a major overhaul; it is something quite different to be told you are a bad writer or musician, mechanic, or teacher, unless that judgment is accompanied by possible corrective action that can be taken. I was eager to hear how I could improve my writing; it was good to hear that my work on the bass is paying off. I am thankful for both observations of my efforts. I just have to wonder though, why I've never been complimented on my bassooning.

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