The Unveiling

(An expanded and/or edited version of this post appears in Rhan’s new book, All In Good Time – a Book About Playing Music for the Aspiring Ukulele Player. It is available at: )


The other day I wrote a note of encouragement to my students who had just taken the first class in a series of four that was focused on playing by ear without the aid of music in front of them. We had a great class and I wanted to let them know that though some of the material was perhaps over their head, they were still learning important material.

As you may know, this blog I write is part hands on instruction, and part philosophy. Metaphors help me describe some of the ways we can grow musically as well as in our day to day doings.

Imagine if you will layer after layer of veils obscuring our vision. These veils represent all the limits we have taken on. Limits regarding our talent; our ability to learn; our zest for life. Some are so thin that by themselves they are barely noticeable. Some are more obviously thick and recognizable, but thick or thin – they add up to a serious crippling effect on our life.

Perhaps a teacher once told you that you had no talent and that you should give up on playing the violin and stick with something easier – Veil. Perhaps a parent scolded you for singing that same old rhyme over and over – Veil. Did you once try to address a crowd only to be laughed at and ridiculed? Veil.

You see, I believe that we were born perfect. We had rhythm, song, and love in our life. We still do, but it has gotten so buried by these negative messages that we don’t even remember how it “used to be”.

As Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

We already have everything we need to play music. We have rhythm. We have a song, and we have joy. We just have to take off all those veils – one by one – until we find our true selves again.

So the next time you are frustrated because you can’t get those chords or that strum, think about what you are learning.

Were you scared to attend that class you thought might be too advanced but did anyway? Veil removed.

Did you figure out something that you had trouble with earlier? Veil removed.

Were you okay with just listening and trying to adsorb what you could without thinking you were a failure? Veil removed.

Sometimes we learn things we didn’t mean to while we’re trying to learn something we’re not ready for yet.

What veils have you removed lately?

6 Responses to “The Unveiling”

  1. Eileen Sundet Says:

    You make me think of how many ways we ‘test’ students in school with ‘standardized tests’ as if every child were exactly the same instead of uniquely talented.
    Does anyone want a ‘standard’ child? Hell no, you want an exceptional child who excells in whatever talent they may have and then some.
    How do you measure creativity? Spontaneity? Problem solving? Inventing? by encouraging risk taking, be willing to fail on your way to succeeding, and most of all learn to laugh at yourself in the process.
    You are right Rhan, so much of standard teaching snuffs out those creative and experimental juices in the process of ‘educating’ someone instead of liberating their innate talents.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Thank you for your comments.You hit one of the nails on the head – standardized teaching, but there is also the ignorant comments made by parents frustrated by their own lack of creativity. Then there are bullies who are afraid to express themselves creatively and therefore stifle everyone around them.

      Worse of all, however, are ourselves – we are the ones who take on the subtle and not-so-subtle limits to our potential. We don’t even realize we do this, and therefore don’t realize we can undo the damage done.

      The good news – we can change. We can return to our natural creative state. It’s so easy it’s scary.

      • Eileen Sundet Says:

        I’m reminded of the African saying:

        “If you can walk – you can dance
        If you can talk – you can sing”

        There’s nothing in there that says you have to be perfect, in tune, on time – always~
        You get that by practicing in a ‘village’ that supports all its people regardless of their abilities, everyone is unique and important and valued.

        Its too bad we are constantly told via the media we are inadequate – therefore buy this product – or if you aren’t perfect – get outta here. Thats not an environment that offers support to someone learning a new skill.

        Thankfully, our ‘tribe’ embraces and encourages us all as we continue to get better at our music making!

  2. clayzen Says:

    Thank you, for your words of wisdom.

  3. Chuck Says:

    This goes on my wall.
    Thanks Rhan, you have demonstrated this principle over and over with our AIGT Orchestra.

  4. mary Says:


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