Two weeks ago I decided to learn to play the didgeridoo. It’s totally different from anything I’ve ever done before, and it’s challenging to learn. But I’m having fun, and really enjoying it. The deep resonance of the sound is soothing. And the complete concentration it requires forces me to focus on only the one thing before me, making it a wonderfully meditative act.
There’s also the laughter that comes along with learning to do something new. What am I going to do but laugh when my child tells me that I sound like an ailing elephant? And any time an instrument accidentally makes noises that sound like passing gas, you know my boys are going to be rolling on the floor with laughter and begging me to do it again.
The community aspect of learning an instrument is also fun. My boys frequently grab an instrument or two for themselves and we’ll all make music together. Now this is not something other people would be begging to hear. I can’t even say that most people would call it music. But we enjoy its cacophonous enthusiasm, at least for a few minutes.
That said, the most important part of this process, I think, has been letting my kids watch as I daily tackle something new. They see that it’s hard for me. They see that it’s not coming easily. They’re watching me struggle to even play the most basic sounds. And, they’re watching me persist day after day after day after day until I can do it.
Most of the time, when my kids and I try something new together, I can do a better job than they can. This isn’t due to any innate coordination on my part. It is simply because I’ve lived longer than they have, and have had lots of time to practice all sorts of things in my life. And even if I haven’t done the one particular thing we’re trying, chances are that I’ve tried something somewhat similar and the skills I’ve developed can cross over.
This is not the case with the didgeridoo. Here, we’re all starting from zero experience. So I get to enjoy and learn something new, and my boys get to watch as I try and fail and persist.
They get to see that this is what it requires to learn something. And I think it’s vital that kids see adults model this, so they don’t think they’re the only ones who struggle to learn. Whether it’s visible to the world around us or not, we all struggle and we all have to persevere until we finally get it. It’s been a good couple of weeks for all of us.
In case you’re curious, I started with a simple, inexpensive didgeridoo like THIS. I figure if I’m still loving it in a couple months, I’ll invest in a real wooden instrument. Then, this one can go into my boys’ instrument collection. In the meantime, this starter didgeridoo keeps the cost of entry low. That way, I don’t have to worry about my boys messing around with it. Perhaps I’ll also pick up something like THIS so I can take our show on the road. Watch out, World!