A newbie steel guitar player who was feeling discouraged asked me if I’d ever felt like I was never gonna get it, never gonna learn to really play this fucking thing. I said hell no, I just holed up in the bedroom practicing for 6 months and then went out and started playing gigs. Never a moment of doubt.
Which was contrary to my original plan. When I bought my first steel guitar at the rather advanced age of 22 I figured I’d just fuck around with it for a few years and then maybe get a weekend gig with some local band at a VFW or something. I had no intention of being a professional musician. But once I started playing it I realized that I was progressing a little faster than I’d prognosticated
But after 20 years of playing full time, professionally, the doubts began to set in, and I thought, WTF, is the best I’m ever going to play? That’s when I realized that, nope, I’m never really going to learn how to play this fucking thing. I’m sure a lot of musicians have undergone a similar epiphany at some point, realizing their limitations, so I didn’t feel especially alone or like a failure. Just reality setting in.
So, almost 20 years from that point I’m still playing the best I can, and having fun doing it, and I’ve inured myself to the Cold Hard Fact that I’ll never play the way I want to, or be able to play all the the things I hear in my head.
Is there any hope, some lingering shred of optimism? Well, Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice the cello 3 hours a day at the age of 93, and he said he thought he was seeing some improvement.