• rhuari

9 by the 9th

Currently listening to: King Creosote From Scotland With Love

When I decided to start writing a blog, I did a little research into what blogging is. I knew what I wanted to write about, but I was interested in how others approached their writing and what subjects they covered. A common blog subject I’ve come across is 30 by 30. A list of 30 things the writer aspires to achieve before their 30th birthday. I think that’s great. The whole idea of writing down and publishing your to-do list so everyone can see it, brings an element of competition. If the writer doesn’t achieve these things, they lose face. Cool. I’m up for it.


I’m busy as hell.

Ok, so we all use that excuse every day. We just don’t have the time to do everything we want to do with life, relationships, and work responsibilities getting in the way. I’m just about to start 2nd year at uni and I suspect it’ll be a step up in difficulty from last year. On top of that, I have to pump more placement hours into this year because lockdown pinched a huge block of our learning from us last term. I’m also just about to start working as a support worker so my time will be even more limited. I’m totally up for trying everything life has to offer now. I spent a lot of years being lazy and complacent and also just scared to try new and scary things. I’m totally up for jumping out of planes and climbing mountains and all that stuff.

I’ll get around to it.

For now, I’ve compiled a to-do list designed specifically to improve my dexterity.

9 things I’m going to work on before September next year.

Chops Sticks - This should be one of the easiest items on the list. It only takes a finger and a thumb and as a right-handed person, the dexterity in my right hand should be decent. I don’t imagine this taking too long to master but I just never have. Presumably because trying it in front of others highlighted that I am not innately perfect at everything that involves dexterity, so I’d just not do it at all to save embarrassment. Also, my mate was using them at the weekend and that bothered me.

Cas-cas – I came across this cool little instrument when a friend tagged my in a video of some guy who was absolutely rapid with them. They are sort of like shakers. Two hollow, wooden balls with dried peas or something inside like maracas, they are then connected by a string, and there’s one of these for each hand. You make a rhythm by holding a ball in each hand, and using it as a standard shaker, whilst allowing the other ball (connected to the string) to swing round and click off the ball in your hand. When my pal tagged me in this video, he said something along the lines of “if anyone is gonna be able to do this, it’s Rhuari”. And I thought “you’re damn right!” and quickly bought a pair online. When they arrived, I discovered that I wasn’t a naturally gifted cas-cas player as I’d arrogantly expected and so they’ve been collecting dust in a percussion box ever since.

Rubix Cube – One of my best mates loves the old cube. He has, as far as I can remember, a decent collection, built up from gifts and souvenirs from holidays etc. If he reads this, he’ll probably tell me to back off and stop stealing his thing but screw him…I played drums before him so….

Origami – This should be an interesting one because I am in no way a perfectionist. I do not use precision in the instruments I play because I think that kinda contributes to my musical style. I just kind throw my hands quickly at the instrument and most of the time they land somewhere in vicinity I was hoping they would. However, in origami, if I don’t learn and practice precision with in those intricate, delicate folds, I’m going to make some pretty crap art. Hmmm…I’m also trying to cut down my paper waste so perhaps I should strictly use wasted paper.

Yoyo – This is gonna be fun. I've always loved yoyos and this fits really well with the show-off in me. Walking the dog, around the world…all of that. Next.

Drawing – Aw man. I don’t draw. I tend to say I’m not visually artistic but I guess now that’s really hypocritical of me given my rant about how anyone can learn to sing or play an instrument. Surely drawing follows the same rules of hand-eye coordination and dexterity that are involved in playing an instrument? I’ll need a lot of help and advice with this one. What should I draw? Where do I even start?

Handwriting – A memory has just come to me. I must have been in primary 5 or 6. My teacher invested a lot of time and effort to fix my handwriting or perhaps at least push it onto the right trajectory. I mean, I say she invested but really, she just made me do loads of extra practice. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about. Joining the dots. I must have produced a particularly impressive page of the letter R in lower and uppercase or something because she sent me down to my previous years teacher to show her my improvement. Maybe she did it to boast that she'd been successful where the other hadn't. Or maybe she was just giving me a false sense of accomplishment because my handwriting remains atrocious and, in some cases, entirely illegible.

Flaring with bottles (left hand) – Like yoyo, this is right up my street. Now, I can already flare to an extent but only really with my right hand. I’ve done it for years now. Showing off behind the bar and rolling my eyes at cliched reference to Tom Cruise from the punters. In fact, in every job I’ve had, I have found something…anything I can do a cool little trick on and used that to amuse myself and pass time on shift. But as is a custom for me, I embraced what I was good at (flaring with the right hand) and ignored what I needed to work on in order to progress (incorporating the left). I suppose it’s time to address that.

Sign language – I’ve been thinking about this for a while and not only will it be great for dexterity, but it’ll help me communicate with people with hearing and speech impairments. I know some schools are including it in their curriculum as well as Makaton and you know, it would just be better if more people could do it, right?

Left hand on piano – Now, here we are. Improving my dexterity has a specific purpose. I want to improve as a musician. I can blag a bit of piano. Especially in the key of G which I find particularly easy, but my left hand is very rigid. It’s another case of me not trying to better myself when I can already do something that is marginally impressive. My left and right hands are equally quick when I’m playing drums and guitar but with piano, I tend to just hold the same chord shape and move it to relative chords. I also usually stick to 4 crochets in a bar. Lazy and boring. I’m going focus on scales and trying to improvise melodies with the left while holding the 4 crochet bars on the right instead.

So there we go. 9 things by the 9th month of next year. Each of these vary in difficulty and time investment so I’ll need to apply individual techniques and practice regimes to them all. Then I guess in a year, I’ll do a blog on how it all went.

Fingers crossed.

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