Mama always told me...

My poor mother spent a lot of energy trying to get me to practice the piano as a kid. I enjoyed playing piano on my own time but I hated practicing it regularly. After eventually quitting the piano, I played the french horn and I sang. Though I more or less enjoyed music, I still loathed the commitment of practicing regularly.

Mom was, and still is, a flutist. She fell in love with music as a high schooler, and threw herself into playing the flute, continuing to play into adulthood. While I was growing up, she played in the pit for musical theater productions, in ensembles at church and in a range of other orchestras. There was always music in the house. While I rarely got my act together to practice, my mom always found time for it.

"Practice makes perfect!" was an unofficial motto of our house, and my favorite piece of advice from my mother to completely ignore.

After years of turning my back on this one little piece of advice, it's time for me to acknowledge that, of course, she's right. It all comes down to practice.

I didn't learn the lesson in time to save my music career. But this week, her admonishment was on the top of my mind as I devoted a lot of energy to my Luganda study, and as I saw the practice paying off.

This week I spent a lot of time to practicing writing in Luganda, mostly working to cement some grammar concepts. I did some intensive work every day, even losing complete track of time on a couple of occasions. Over the course of the week, I could feel my steadiness and comfort with the language growing. On Friday, I had my regular conversation with my language mentor and it was wonderful. It reminded me of the meeting we had last semester where suddenly I felt like we were able to have a little bit of a real conversation. Our conversation drifted across a range of topics, some of which we'd discussed in the past, but some new ones, too. It felt amazing to see the progress.

There definitely seems to be a correlation between the weeks where I am able to put in a lot of practice, and those that I have great conversations with my language mentor. Though the correlation could be a coincidence, I'm going to side with my mom on this one - practice seems to be a major factor.

As I look ahead, I feel especially grateful for weeks like this one where I make a leap forward with the language. I recognize that those weeks probably can't happen every week. Life gets in the way sometimes. I'm afraid the coming week will be one of those weeks, unfortunately. My grandmother passed away, peacefully and expectedly, late last week, and so this week I'll be making the trip home for a couple of days to celebrate her life and spend some time with family. While I hope to keep up with a lot of my work, I'm anticipating that this week will be on the slow side for Luganda study. And, that's okay. I realize now that that's what these other weeks are for, to balance out the weeks where intensive practice just isn't possible.

As much as I hate to admit it, my mom was right all along about the merits of practicing. She couldn't save my piano career, but she'll get some credit if I manage to learn Luganda.


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