// Articles

All

Losers get laid too. OR How I know that you can make music.


June 2, 2013 by Melissa Main

I hate board games. I hate them so passionately I will do my very best to avoid anyone who may try to coerce me into playing and any place that has a shelf of them just sitting there, in case someone thinks it is a good idea to make me play.

I have tried to figure out what this is about. The main reasons seem to be the following:

a.    I believe the true spelling of this pastime is “Bored-games”

b.    There are easily 100 other things I would rather do than spend an hour of my precious life on a Bored-game (let’s be clear that sitting still and doing absolutely nothing at all still ranks high above playing Settlers of Cattan),

c.    There is this weird social pressure to stay playing until the bitter end, even if you’re over it, it’s not fun anymore, you’re going to miss your tram or your nanna just died; and

d.     I never learnt how to lose and still have fun, so I would rather not try.

 

This last reason is a secret. I do not have a competitive bone in my body.

Or possibly more accurately, I am so competitive I don’t even compete.

 

I guess this same attitude (minus the Bored-factor) is why I took so long to start making music. Losing is unpleasant. To try really hard and fail seems like wasted effort, which is frustrating and yes, even more unpleasant. I like to do things well. I like to win. I even, on occasion, like to be the best (but not in that big-headed up-my-self kind of way, definitely not, no, not me). I like being a “natural” if possible. Being a natural means you can do it without thinking about it, without too much effort and without any mistakes.

When I was at school, we were gently steered in the direction of our “natural talents” so we could experience wins more and more. What this actually did was establish an idea that you should only do something if you’re good at it, and you could only ever learn something if you were good at it already and paradoxically didn’t need to learn much anyway.

In more adult terms: trying and failing is for losers, and everybody knows that losers don’t get laid. You don’t want to be a loser, but you don’t want to be a try-hard, so it’s easier (and safer) to just sit out of the game (or sneak straight to the back of the line when it was your turn in ball-relays. Not that I did that. A friend of mine did that. I wouldn’t be that much of a loser, definitely not, no, not me).

With music, I thought I had to be good to even start learning. I didn’t even really know what good was, but I knew I wasn’t it. I was terrified to “lose” because that would be so shameful, there was a good chance I would die. No really. When I finally stopped and looked carefully at my feelings (sometime in my late twenties), I realized how impossible the scenario was: if only good musicians were allowed to start learning music, and only the best were actually allowed to play, how did anyone ever get “good” in the first place? If only the best musicians were allowed to play music, there would only be one musician. Who would they play with? They would be lonely. Sad Face. Clearly, it is a stupid idea that doesn’t make any sense. Luckily, population growth indicates that this stupid idea does not apply to getting laid either. Happy Face.

There’s this thing you realize when you’ve been teaching for a while (and don’t worry, this is actually backed up by like, real studies done by like, people with real research jobs and stuff, which makes it far more legit than me just figuring it out on my own, apparently) that the people who succeed learning new things aren’t necessarily the people who have the most skills to start with. It is usually the people who spend the most time doing it. And those people are the people Who Think They Can. Like the Little Engine That Could (that’s a kid’s book from the 70’s if you’re wondering. Google it).

These researchers reckon it takes 800 hours of time on task to become an expert in a completely brand new set of skills.  If your heart aches for you to be doing something you don’t know how to do yet, like singing your own songs, playing the piano accordion or running a marathon, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you don’t start with that first hour, you’ll never make it to 800.

You don’t have to be the best (there’s only one of those, and we’ll never all agree who that is) you don’t have to be good (which is also a matter of opinion). You just have to start doing it. If you want to make music, and you think you can’t, you won’t. If you want to make music, and get started gathering skills, one day you will. Probably sooner than you think.

P.S I’d just like to point out that just because you can become an expert in something in 800 hours, that doesn’t mean you have to. If I have 3 legitimate reasons why I don’t want to learn something, I wouldn’t bother wasting my time. Like with Bored-games, for instance. (“C’mon, Melissa, we only have to play for 800 hours and then you’ll love it!”). No thanks. While you can sit and decimate your friends by putting triple motels on Park Lane, I’m going to sit in the corner and play a tune on my new banjo instead. About 800 times until I get it right.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.


Author Details

Melissa Main

Where cabaret sidles up to folk, acoustic sneaks a kiss from plugged-in sounds and clever lyrics dance over a landscape of solidly tasty melody lives Melissa Main and her original music. Also in trio or with her band, her songs are witty, interesting, touching and funny.


Share this Article

Comments