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!