We had some people come in with experience. What we did was ask someone where they had done their first or second year and how they were doing it. We had one person with 10 years and they were just learning on their own. Another person had 11 years, and we said, “OK, we want to build this process that has been successful for you here.” Some people came in without even having started or any training, just being able to tell us about who they were and what they were listening to and learning in their practice. I had people come in who had only just started out in the band, but had a very good understanding of what the music meant, and they weren’t learning anything they were just having a musical experience with a lot of people doing things they were very good at doing. I didn’t even have to tell them how to play the violin. It’s like you have to be an expert in something to understand how to play it.
I remember that very vividly. I remember thinking after someone had learned an instrument, a lot of times they weren’t comfortable with being in a public setting. We had a lot of people who wanted to practice with us because they wanted to have a more private experience, and then they would come and play with us after getting a warm welcome from us, or after they started learning with us, and they’d say, “I just came here from a small town to practice with this wonderful thing, and now I have this wonderful thing to perform with,” and we’d get to be that happy little band that had never had anyone say that. It’s just such an extraordinary thing.
How would you recommend a beginner approach?
There’s no better way to be able to take advantage of this. Just go to a place somewhere, and it’s something you have to actually do yourself that you have to see for yourself, see it for yourself, see it from the outside, and experience it firsthand. Then you can’t go into any kind of theory or learning method until you really experience it and become familiar with your own body. You can get there slowly, so if it’s something you start off with when you’re new to music, it might feel very daunting because you’re not sure what it is because you’ve never heard it before, and then you come in the first few concerts with it, people might be like, “Who the hell is this guy you’re playing with? I swear to God, you can’t play this instrument well.”
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