Marvel in Your Own Mediocrity

We all have things we are talented with, and things we are not. Should that stop us from trying? Should somebody not skilled with a brush just walk away from painting? Should a poor writer just set down their pen?

I am not talking about “Show us your ugly things” here. Those are just ideas that don’t work out, I’m speaking about areas you just aren’t proficient in.
The reason I bring this point up is that I am not musical. I don’t understand notes, I can’t distinguish a 4/4 from a 3/5 time signature, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what the difference between Moderato and Allegro are. I mean, I know the theoretical meaning of each of these terms, but when listening to or trying to play music, they are just frustrating words there to torment me.

I have always liked music, in elementary school I loved music class, and even played the violin (poorly) for a year. But a time came when they said I had to own my own instrument, and my family saw there was no point in buying me one. That was the end of that.

Years went by, and I occasionally would pick up some random instrument and make noise with it, but not music. Once I became an adult I even bought my own violin, albeit a cheap one, to try and see what I could do. The short answer is not. I could barely get it to make sound, let alone anything other than a screeching wail.

A few year later, me and my partner both bought electric guitars. She also enjoys music, but her education involved a piano. In this case I managed to memorize the chords to play the intro of “Smoke on the Water”… and nothing else. A few years of dust and both guitars got sold. Neither of us ever played an entire song. She has since picked up a ukulele.

Then three years ago I found another instrument I wanted to learn. It was one I had first heard about through a video game (I bet some of you already know what it is based on that sentence, let alone the featured image.) It was a quaint little thing I could take with me and it wouldn’t require a lot of maintenance or tuning. And I loved the sound of it on when in the hands of people on YouTube.
So I bought an ocarina.

river muse
My first ocarina, The Muse, by Songbird Ocarinas

I love the ocarina, but I still have very little talent. Like I said, I have been playing it for three years (maybe even four now) and can not pick it up and play a single song without a guide. And even then I am as flat as the Kansas plains I live on.

I have learned how to read the notes on a scale, but if I don’t know the song there is no way I can tell you the importance of a quarter note vs a half note. If you put a scale in front of me and say what holes on your ocarina do you need to cover to make this note, I can do it. But if you say, “Chris pick up your ocarina and play a C,” I would fail. I know what those are in theory, but in practice? Nope.

I have listened to several YouTube videos on both music theory and on learning the ocarina specifically, but even those have no staying power. I generally look for tabs (basically pictographs of songs) for song I know and just play them over and over. Do I know any by heart? Nope. I can play a large part of Zelda’s Lullaby without my guide but that is it. I think after 3 or 4 years that is not what one would call mastery.

And learning songs by ear?! What even is that?! It makes no sense to me at all, so I shall not mention it again.

But with all of this, I still crave playing. I enjoy it. I have even played in public. Not for an audience, but just sitting out in a park with my oc and enjoying the day. And despite my questions at the beginning of this post, I have no intention of stopping. And if you enjoy something, you should keep at it too. No matter how bad you are. Paint, draw, play your esoteric instrument, sing, dance, just do what you enjoy and be happy. People will judge you, but your art, no matter it’s form, is yours. And you are the audience that matters.

My Three Ocarinas
Even without the playing skills I’ve expanded my collection some. I have a Double Alto (My favorite and on the left), a Soprano (which I won in a photo contest and in the middle), and a Tenor (my original and on the right).

Also, I figured since I was writing this post about me playing music I should give you a few songs. So, here are some songs with my ocarinas. Before you say “Oh, well you’re not THAT bad.” remember: Three years of playing.

Chris T.

Chris is a microbiologist with a passion for nature. He has a degree in Natural History and spends his time taking pictures of mushrooms, riding his bike, painting, and watching tv.

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