Dare to Suck

A lot of people propagate the fable that you can’t master something unless you start as a child.

This, however, is completely false.

As I have mentioned before, I didn’t start playing piano nor speaking Spanish until I was around 23, but now BOTH are an essential part of my work as a bilingual, professional musician. And half my work is in Spanish.

The real challenge comes with frustration tolerance. And especially when I was learning the piano, it was really humiliating because I wasn’t a kid (I was in my 20s) and I dared to perform in public even though I was still learning.

It’s not fair, really. When you’re a kid/teen, everyone gives you a break and encourages you because you are young. But when you are an adult, it’s *expected* that you are already proficient. Otherwise, “how dare you! who do you think you are?”

So I had to bear the pain of fumbling in the middle of a gig and trying to recover – in front of an audience. And thankfully my voice carried me through and bought me time – allowing me to earn money as a singing pianist while I built up my skills.

And man, I had some outright train wrecks. But I never gave up, and even now I’m still growing as a pianist. I’m even playing organ regularly (WITH pedal work), though I have a lonnnnng way to go before I’m *proficient* as an organist.

It was the same with learning Spanish – though I would say that it was easier because I have the “Gringa Card” – my parents both did the spit test and I’m about as boringly white as possible: Northern Europe and the British Isles.

So all the native Spanish-speakers gave me a break. That made it easier, but I still had to have the courage to accidentally say something stupid.

And I have said PLENTY of stupid things.

(well, for that matter, in English as well as Spanish!)

So it really all comes down to…


Yes, you CAN learn something brand new when you are older and even master it, if you have the courage to push through the frustration and just *not be good* at whatever it is…. for a long time.

In other words,

Dare to suck.