When I joined the Charnwood Symphonic Wind Orchestra towards the end of last year, it was to bring my sight reading skills up to scratch. They are definitely improving although I’m a long way from being able to pull a random piece out of the two hundred or so that make up the pad and be sure that I’ll be able to nail it cold. So, still a bit of a pain in the eye.
This evening, I made time to rehearse with some gospel musicians who I might get to play with. That’s a very different world – not a dot of music to read (although thankfully I’m reasonably good on my Nashville numbers). It’s fun but, as someone who is used to generally getting a chord sheet for worship music, it’s a challenge to my playing by ear skills. A bit of a pain in the ear.
Still, I’m learning. My conclusion, after many years of trying to learn, is that ‘no pain, no gain’ isn’t just a lesson for the gym; if you want to get better at anything, you’ve got to stretch yourself. Now I’m a ‘professional’ musician, this is my job, to seek out opportunities where I’m stretched and kept growing. That will help me understand how others are feeling when I’m trying to teach them something that sets their synapses popping and, yes, eye and ear, it certainly keeps up the growth of my own skills.