I picked up my violin again today for the first time in a very long time. Months. More than months, maybe. To be clear, I don't know how to play the violin. That is a big part of the reason why I haven't played it in so long. It is frustrating and hard and does not make me happy. It hurts my fingers, and I never feel like I am making any progress because I have no idea what I am doing and I don't seem to ever get any better.
I have distinct advantages in the learning process: I know how to read music. I have a good pitch sense. I know, theoretically, how most instruments are supposed to work. I can pick up most any brass or woodwind instrument and be able to play twinkle twinkle little star in a matter of seconds. (But we're not going to talk about double reed instruments.)
But for some reason, stringed instruments completely elude my musical sense. The way they operate, the movements and positioning required, the idea that both of my hands are supposed to be doing something totally different... All of these things make stringed instruments totally foreign and confusing to me. And it is INCREDIBLY frustrating.
I put down the violin today after spending a solid half hour trying to figure out how to make a bow stroke that doesn't sound like a dying cat, with little to no progress. I am not used to this! I know that back when I first picked up an instrument I sounded like crap and my progress was slow and my tuning was awful and my sound was a disaster, but I had the patience for it back then. I was new; I was SUPPOSED to sound like crap. Since I have got good at what I do, I've been spoiled with being able to pick up an instrument and go with at least rudimentary skill. I've forgotten how to learn from scratch.
I think I may have just regained an insight into how people feel when they try and learn an instrument from nothing. I've just forgotten how to learn from the beginning. I think I will find a beginning method book and muddle through, ignoring the boredom and the frustration with the slow progress... Because most times you actually have to DO the hours of rudimentary crap in order to have any idea what you're doing.