One of the hardest things I find as someone who is coming back to playing the clarinet after a hiatus of about 20 years is to be compassionate with myself. I remember how easy it seemed, how I could hit the high notes and had the lung capacity to play through the long phrasings. Now that I’m coming back to this, older, with health issues, I have to think that things have changed. I’m a rank beginner again, though with no one to lead or give lessons.

Part of my music practice has to be compassion. On the days when life happens, because hey, as a young adult I didn’t have to juggle a job, caring for a family, building a business, and I don’t get to practice–compassion. When I can’t hit the high notes, compassion.

As adult learners it’s easy to not have compassion for ourselves. We think that we should just be able to pick up where we left off, that time off won’t make our skills rusty. Compassion means being gentle with yourself. Do what you can. Try to do more if possible. And understand that we’re not teenaged band geeks with little else to worry about than homework.

Take it easy on yourself and most of all, keep playing.

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