What I learned from my dog about music

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A few months ago I adopted Bloo, a rescue dog from a local shelter. And since we’ve been together I have to admit I have spent more time playing with him than I have been practicing my fiddle (look at that face, can you blame me?).

Today though, I finally got back to it and realized during the last three months I have learned so much about music just from hanging with my dog.

Commitment – Each day I spend about 15 minutes training Bloo to sit, stay, roll over and do all the things a dog should do. I do this daily because dogs need routine and repetition and it is really starting to pay off. He’s becoming quite the good dog. Setting aside 15 minutes to train the dog is not hard to do. So setting aside 15 minutes to practice shouldn’t be either. They say if you practice for just 15 minutes a day you will improve tremendously. Bloo has.

Trust your instincts
Each time someone knocks on the door, Bloo barks. I don’t think I’m ever going to train him not to do this and honestly I like that he does. He’s protecting his territory and this is instinctual.

Yesterday I was playing a 5-part tune and trying to remember each part in my head before I played it, but to avail. The minute I sat down and just played it without thinking about the notes, it’s like my fingers took over and just knew where to go.

Sometimes we just have to trust that our practice and training is there whether we’re thinking about it or not. I doubt that when someone knocks Bloo thinks “I think I might bark really loud and ferociously in order to scare the potential intruder on the other side of the door.” No, most likely he hears a noise and just barks.

We need to trust that no matter who is listening we can play that tune that we worked so hard at learning.

Clean up every speck
My floors are crumb-free at all times. There is not a speck of food on my floor when Bloo is awake. He’s very diligent about getting every morsel of anything I accidentally drop. He even likes kale!

There some areas of my tune playing that need to be cleaned up like the specs on the floor. My roles for example, need a little attention so they are crisper and more rhythmic.

I can get through a tune that I have learned and I can play every note and keep up with others at a session. But do I create those beautiful ornaments that some of my favorite players create? Probably not. So sitting down and really going over the trouble spots in my playing could mean the difference of being a good player and being a great player.

Rest when necessary
My dog is good a lot of things like cuddling, coming when called, sitting and rolling over. But what he is best at is napping. The dog knows when he’s tired and just drops to the floor and naps without hesitation.

One might say he’s lazy but I say he’s smart. If only we could all nap whenever we felt tired. Rest is underrated. I just took a 3-month rest in playing fiddle and all I can think about every day now is how do I fit some tunes into my day. Rest does the body good and gives you a whole new perspective in your music when you take a break.

Love every minute of it
If my dog taught me anything so far, he has taught me about love. I have sacrificed a lot to have a dog. I’ve given up time with my friends, time doing activities I love like playing music, cycling, going to karate. I’ve given up hard earned money to buy food, take him to daycare, etc. But at the end of the day he gives me so much love and enjoyment it’s worth the sacrifice.

I feel the same about music. You sacrifice time, energy and money for instruments and equipment, but at the end of the day when you finally learn that tune and play it out loud there is nothing that feels better.

 

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