July 6, 2017
“What do you want to do?” It was my first bass lesson since last year. Kieran, the bass professor at Fredonia College didn’t want to waste my time covering irrelevant material. Having been so long since I’ve had any guidance, my answer was immediate.
“Without regular instruction, it is easy to fall into bad habits; I want you to review the fundamentals to make sure I’m doing things right,” instantly popped out of my mouth. He understood, and took me back to the basics, like how to hold the instrument, left-hand fingering position, how to hold the right hand when playing pizzicato, using as he put it, “physics, rather than muscle,” and holding the bow correctly for arco work. I’ve been practicing and playing regularly since last summer when I last took lessons; it’s amazing how many bad habits I picked up in the interval.
I have my work cut out for me. Kieran watched carefully, diagnosed the problems, and corrected my form. I am eager to put into practice what we worked on this morning.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us to “not forsake assembling yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but encourage one another…” Pastors love this verse; not always for the right reasons, but we love it. What church leader doesn’t want his or her people to be faithful in attendance? It’s more fun preaching to a full house than an empty one, and empty seats don’t pay the bills. But stroking the pastor’s ego and paying the bills is not an adequate reason for wanting Christians to meet for worship each week. The real reason we are encouraged to meet regularly is the same reason I needed to resume my bass lessons; we too easily develop bad habits that prevent us from playing life’s music the way it is meant to be played. It is in the regular, disciplined gathering that we observe one another, offer the support, encouragement, and correction that helps us to improve. Practice is required, but as John Maxwell says, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent.” It is the meeting together that makes the perfect permanent.
I’m grateful today for this morning’s bass lesson, not only for the help I received for my playing, but also for my living.