Extending your Learning-Limit

Red Henry

Red Henry

Many of you will recall that in addition to our musical activities, I'm learning to fly. I had a great flight last Wednesday. Snowstorms and high winds had prohibited flying for almost three weeks, so I needed some practice, especially landing the plane. So I took off solo and made 3 landings at the airport here at Winchester, then flew up to Martinsburg, WV and made 10 landings on the big runway there, then came back to Winchester and finished up with 3 more: total, 16 landings in a little over 3 hours.

How did it go? Well, at first the airplane seemed pretty unfamiliar (it had been 3 weeks!) and it took the first one or two landings for me to doing them again. Then, the first several landings at Martinsburg were the best ones I made. When I came back to Winchester I was beginning to get a bit tired, and the last couple of landings could have been improved on. But it took those 3 hours for me to reach that point, and I remember when a 1-hour flight exhausted me, not so long ago. Things are improving fast.

And what does this have with learning to play music? A lot. When you’re learning to play, the instrument may seem pretty unfamiliar in your hands. It can take a while to get warmed up, and then you can get “max’d out” if you play for too long a time without rest. Your ability to learn and to play (and especially your endurance in playing) improves gradually as you go along. At first it might wear your hands and brain out to play for 30 minutes, but after a while you can play for an hour or two without feeling strained. Later, you might get with some other pickers and go all afternoon or evening, and not feel nearly as worn out as you did after a half-hour at first.

Practice, that's the key. What you're learning gets better, and easier, as you go along. Practice might not make perfect, but it sure helps!


2 thoughts on “Extending your Learning-Limit

  1. Augie Augburn

    Hi Red,

    Your story reminded me of my experience in learning to fly. I was doing touch and goes with my instructor and had done about 9 which were worse than terrible. Thank God for instructors. We’d both be dead if he hadn’t been there. As we we were relaxing our pucker strings rolling down the runway after what I thought was the last one, I was utterly amazed when the instructor said we had time for one more. So off we went back into the wild blue. I dutifully set up my downwind, crosswind, and then my final approach. I did everthing exactly as I had done before, but this time as I flared for landing I greased it in without so much as a bump, just squeek, squeek, squeek. I was amazed.

    My instructor turned to me and said, “Great, now do it that way all the time”. I looked at him and flatly stated, “I have no idea what I did differently on that one”. From that day on it just seemed to get easier and better. As beginner on the banjo (3 months), I hope that is how my Banjo work will evolve. Try, try and try and one day it will all come together.

    Thanks for all you do for us.


  2. Red Henry

    Post author

    Augie, that’s a good aviation story. My own instructor commented, one day after I made some landings that were a lot better than my previous ones, that students get to some point and “something clicks.” Sure seems like it!


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