It’s never too late, you’re never too old.

Kathy Sierra over at the Creating Passionate Users weblog has a follow-up post to their previous entry on “neurogenesis” referenced in a previous Voicelog entry here. This post says it all perfectly and can be read in the context of adult bagpipers and drummers in nearly every aspect.

Here in the US, the east particularly, adult pipers and drummers at the earliest levels of learning outnumber the kids—and there are a lot of kids learning bagpipes these days. Too many consider it a “lost cause” to become as good as some of the major soloists or pipe bands because we are “not born in Scotland,” did not start “young enough,” or some variation of the two. This perception runs deep, and conditions many to “give in” and accept whatever level they seem to feel comfortable. Hogwash. If current brain research is to be believed, we can create our own high level of “good” based on our dedication and our desire for self-improvement. Our brains literally grow to meet the challenge of pushing our artistic boundaries, and at any age! Is our passion and desire, or our level of artistry on the bagpipe or drum only measured by the number of Clasps or World Championships we manage to, or not manage to accrue? Comparisons will get you nowhere. The world of piping and drumming is big enough to contain many experts. It is really up to the individual piper or drummer


But the most troubling—and where we have the most leverage—is with the amateur who is satisfied with where they are. These are the folks who you overhear saying, “Yes, I know there’s a better way to do this thing, but I already know how to do it this [less efficient, less powerful] way and it’s easy for me to just keep doing it like that.” In other words, they made it past the suck threshold, but now they don’t want to push for new skills and capabilities. They don’t want to suck again. But that means they’ll never get past the kick-ass threshold where there’s a much greater chance they’ll become passionate about it.

Oh yes, about that never too late thing… most of us can kiss that Olympic ice skating medal good-bye. And at 5’ 4”, my basketball career is probably hopeless. But think about this… actress Geena Davis nearly qualified for the US Olympic archery team in a sport she took up at the age of 40, less than three years before the Olympic tryouts.

No piper or drummer is required to win major solo piping or pipe band prizes of any stature or regard to build the experience, expertise, passion, and artistry that can dazzle listeners, impress peers, and generally make pipe music exciting and fun for everyone. It’s never too late to work toward your own musical artistry.

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