the power of positive feedback

veru1_25_19My new ukulele now sports two bright-colored ribbons. Every time I look at it, I cannot help but feel a little burst of inner smile.

Yup, I showed up for the music shop’s beginner ukulele club this week. I had no idea just how marvelous this experience would be.

There were eight of us in the group that evening. It was a mixed bunch of folks ranging from teenagers to oldsters.

I was the only new person in the group. The instructor brought over an electronic tuner and walked me through a proper tuning of my ukulele.

As everyone else in the group swiftly launched into strumming, I was handed a piece of paper with three chords shown on it, and their use in the tune, “Happy Birthday.” After some pointers on hand position, the instructor walked me through the song, and then bid me to practice it a bit. Then, he was off to listen to the other strummers.

The whole room hummed and swayed with all the strumming. No one was playing the same tune at the same time, and yet there was nothing displeasing or chaotic about it. In fact, quite the reverse.

I kept strumming away at “Happy Birthday” until the instructor eventually wandered back and asked me how I was doing. He leaned in and listened and watched closely as I gave him a run-through. Much to my amazement, he told me what a great job I did. He gestured toward two gongs, one big and one little, and invited me to choose one to strike.

What a funny moment that was. I almost declined the invitation, but, in truth, I was delighted. So, I went up to the big gong and gave it a gentle whack with the mallet. As I turned back, I found the instructor happily approaching me with a bright yellow ribbon which he tied onto the headstock of my ukulele.

I was pretty stunned that I managed to acquire a second ribbon later in the evening after successfully managing to play “Let It Be.” The instructor got me started on my third piece, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” by the end of the evening.

I floated on air as I headed homeward into the snowy dark. A little bit of encouragement goes such a long way!

It reminded me of the first time I went running on a track with a local group. I was the slowest one in the bunch, daunted and beleaguered, but, damn, if I didn’t hear a bunch of folks call out “Great job!” as I panted my way over the finish. Several reached out for a high five. I looked into a group of folks genuinely smiling at me without a hint of condescension.

That’s one of the things I really love about runners. There is always so much mutual encouragement. Even out on a trail alone, there’s nothing strange about coming along another runner you’ve never met before, and hearing “Good job!” as you pass.

The power of positive feedback – you gotta love it. Seems like the older you get, the less you hear it, and yet, the power of an encouraging word is undiminished.

Definitely feeling empowered on my ukulele path, I am happy to practice and really enjoying my “homework.” I’m also looking forward to earning some more ribbons. 🙂