General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
The topic of level "labels" has been a source of interest to me since the time I filled out paperwork to attend my first dulcimer festival years ago. This was a long time before Karen and I had any notion of traveling the country performing and teaching workshops. We were just professional musicians (on other instruments) wanting to learn how "not to stink" on this wonderful new instrument that we had discovered a few months earlier. We both figured out rather quickly that the level labels didn't really work for us at all. Even though we had less than a year of experience on the mountain dulcimer, we had a lifetime of musical background. We found that, as we looked through the course offerings, we seemed to fit (in most cases) anywhere from novice to advanced (depending on the class). The selection process and trying to declare a level label for ourselves was excruciating UNTIL we changed our perspective. We decided to approach the selection process in a "where do we want to be" manner rather than the "where are we" fashion. This decision literally changed our lives. Yes, it was scary. Yes, we were sitting in classes with students who had been playing for many years as opposed to our few months. Yes, we understood that the instructors wouldn't wait for us to "get it" before moving on to the next topic. With all of that said, we had a look at the payoff part of the dulcimer journey. We learned skills and tricks that we couldn't do well at the time, but we could go back home and practice them. We learned that the mountain dulcimer community is very helpful and accepting, and we met people all of those years ago who have become some of our best friends on this planet. ALL of this happened by changing our perspective concerning level labels and totally eliminating the frustration. I tell students all of the time that perspective is a weird and wonderful thing. Some might marvel at how people can come from all over the country yet sit down and instantly make beautiful music together while others might complain that all these people do is sit in a circle and play the same twelve tunes for a week. It's all about the perspective of the observer. We cannot control labels developed by others and where we fit (or not) into these categories, but we CAN control the perspective at which we view these labels and approach them in a manner that will benefit us (as players) the most. Sorry about the novel, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Please don't be afraid to venture into a workshop that a label declares is too difficult for you. The information will benefit you greatly if you take it and develop the skills at your own pace.