You're Awesome!


I have a self-confidence issue. I never think I’m getting a new tune fast enough, playing it well enough to perform for others, or have practiced it long enough to be completely prepared to share. I’m harder on myself than ANYone else would ever be. And why is that?  Maybe I’m just being too critical of myself. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations. Or maybe I need to listen to some positive thinking tapes.

I have had a few full-time jobs playing the dulcimer. When I got the job at the Butterfly Palace in Branson, I was so excited. I was supposed to play Christmas music softly on my hammered dulcimer while the butterflies landed on my head, on my hammers, on the strings. It was an enchanting environment. For the audition, I had played the only 3 Christmas tunes I knew very well. But for the job, I needed to play 6 or 7 hours a day. Whoa! Now what?

Well I practiced Christmas performance pieces over and over again before the first day at work. The tunes sounded great at home, but when I got into the butterfly room with people milling around, I got nervous. No matter how hard I tried, each piece had a mistake (or two or three) in it. But one day, I came to a realization. When I forgot about the folks around me and just played with my heart, sharing my feelings about the birth of Jesus, my playing still had flaws but people were stopping to listen. They sat down on nearby benches and spent time with me. They asked questions about my instrument. They wanted to hold my hammers and hit a string or two.  I was finally connecting with them.

How was this possible? The truth is, I will probably always make mistakes when I play. My eyes are failing, and I haven’t found the right glasses to see the strings clearly. I play by muscle memory, hoping my hands and arms remember the right distance between strings. But when I play with joy and freedom, people enjoy it. They don’t seem to mind the mistakes. They think I’m awesome.
Today I’m telling you … YOU ARE AWESOME too! I believe in you. Don’t be shy. Share your love of the dulcimer with others and play with your heart. People may notice a glitch or two (most won’t) but they will still think you’re amazing.

Happy dulcimering,



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