Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Clarke's Tinwhistle Product Review Part Two

My list of comforts is a bit longer than Cicero's, but only slightly, and it definitely includes musical instruments. As people strive to find more value in life by simplifying and downsizing their possessions, music often becomes more important not less. It seems that music, and specifically music making, is a primal need; music exists in every culture. Whether you're seeking to satisfy that primal need, or whether some other motivation is causing you to consider taking up a musical instrument for the first time, the tinwhistle can be a great starting point. It is inexpensive, easy to learn, readily available around the world, and most importantly makes great music when in the hands of someone who has learned how to use it well.

Recently I found my tinwhistle under my bread-maker. This happy rediscovery of its existence caused me to feel a bit of guilt that I had not bothered to play it all summer, but at the same time it made me eager to share a few words about this instrument. Although neglected these last few months, the tinwhistle has been an important part of my life for the past few years. Its importance to me was not so much that I spent a lot of time playing the instrument, but rather that it gave me accesses to an inexpensive portable instrument and somehow connected me with the hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of other tin-whistle players around the world. It was discovering how popular the instrument is becoming again thanks to You-tube instructional videos, that got me interested in learning how to play it. A young student of mine first introduced me to the sound of the tinwhistle many years ago. He was so great at making music with it that I assumed it would be a difficult instrument to play. The online instruction broke the process down into steps and gave me the confidence to try it myself.

Self-efficacy is an important part of music making. In other words, believing you have the ability to play a musical instrument goes a long way to your being able to actually do so. If you have difficulty believing you will be able to play an instrument, then guess what, you will have difficulty. Starting with a simple instrument like the tinwhistle can help you launch into the world of music, but to get off the ground, you have to believe you can. These humble instruments can produce a wonderful sound in the right hands. James Galway, the legendary flute player, got his start on a tinwhistle and his recordings demonstrate the beautiful sound that can be produced with it. With practice, you too may become a great musician.

Before reaching the virtuosity of great players like Galway, a few basics need to be learned. Some of these have to do with learning how to handle the instrument itself, others have to do with the basic discipline of learning any musical instrument. Perhaps most importantly at the beginning, you need to develop a sense that it is possible to learn this new skill. While much has been made of the "10,000 hour rule", the amount of time required to be an expert in something, Josh Kaufman explains that it can take as little as 20 hours to learn the basics of anything new. 

By breaking down a skill into its essential elements and focusing on the fundamentals, we can learn new things well enough to master the basics. Before learning more about the tinwhistle itself, watching this video about how we learn new things will help prime your mind for the experience of taking up this new instrument.  

Be sure to check back for more info on the tinwhistle and how to learn to play it.

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