The Process of Letting Go

Our young and sprightly new minister at church delivers wisdom beyond her years.  Her latest sermon centered around John 12:20-33.  As she spoke, she mentioned death as being an uncomfortable subject, something one doesn’t talk about in polite company, right up there with religion, sex and politics.  (We stringed-instrument types might also add accordions or banjos or….)

She talked about how death is more than about the physical end of life we usually think of.  As she applied death to everyday tasks/ideas/thoughts/whatever, she then said something that caught my ear (I scribbled this down quickly on my bulletin):

“There can be no new life without the process of letting go,”

citing verse 24: “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  In other words, the wheat kernel has to die in order to sprout a stalk sporting yet more kernels.

An analogy to music immediately hit me squarely between the ears at that moment.  I thought:

There can be no new sound without the process of letting go.

When I teach classes around the country, I meet many hammered dulcimer players and autoharpists who yearn to move their playing forward and can’t, for a variety of reasons.  Most of the time, something about their playing is stiff; this can be any number of things that you can click here to find out more about.  But how hard it is for some of these players to let go of the only habits they’ve ever known–and that haven’t served them well!  Most are afraid they will lose their ability to play unless they play this way.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Sure, slip-ups will come in that repertoire cultivated over the years when you begin thinking in new ways about How to play (tell yourself now to expect slip-ups!–the playing won’t be perfect the first time); however, the improved sound quality that comes with freeing body, mind, spirit and how-to far outweighs the thin, small, stiff sound generated by limiting (and sometimes nonsensical) habits.  Give that fresh approach a couple weeks (I’ve done this myself, in fact), and you’ll wonder why you didn’t know about it all along.  For those who still yearn to move their playing forward, I’m here to help you attain it!

Sounding good is for everyone; happily, it is not the domain of a talented few.  And it is easy to master!  When the instrument sounds good, exploring the art of music becomes possible.  Those who came to the Phoenix Autoharp Retreat six weeks ago know this: as I write, they continue to turn heads, attract ears and inspire souls with a rich, wholesome string sound that they didn’t know how to produce before the Retreat.  Yes, it’s true:

There can be no new sound without the process of letting go.