Passable Isn't Far
There’s that idea about how you need to practice something for 10,000 hours to become proficient at it. I suppose there is the subset idea: it helps if you give a damn all the way through.
About 30 yards from our front door of the rental are the front gates for the stadium the minor league team plays at. From our porch, we can see into the game - how many people fill out the stands, the green of the field, the players poised to swing over home plate. When they are in town, the games start at 7:05 PM. When they are in town, the saxophone guy starts up around 8:30 - when just enough people start to head home for the evening.
The thing about minor league baseball - and most baseball - is how much patience is required to watch a full nine innings. Most fans have eaten their ballpark dinner and had enough cheap beer for the night by the fourth inning.
As they leave, every one of them passes buy saxophone guy. Most of them think they have the ideal song picked out just for them.
There is that one Yanni song.
He’ll sometimes throw in Take Me Out To the Ballgame.
Then Twinkle Twinkle little star.
The opening riff of Pink Panther.
It’s not terribly far from the stuff I learned on the recorder in school growing up.
Each song he knows about four or five bars of. Just long enough to lure the last bit of cash out of people’s pockets as they walk by.
I’m not certain this guy knows anything else. The same four songs, over and over at every home game, until the last fan leaves the stadium. He plays for two to three hours each home game, and there are about 60 home games in a regular season.
180 hours. He never strays from his regular rotation of half-songs and little tunes he’s memorized. I hear everything he plays from all corners of my house. I’m ready to move.
Most of us who do anything in public would at least try to do it in private first - to prove to ourselves we can do it, to show we can get better at it. This isn’t likely the case with saxophone guy.
Good enough to hack it for a few hours. Good enough to shake loose $40 or so bucks in change from people who pass by. Why go for 10,000 hours when a few hundred hours can buy groceries and gas for the week?
Having a passable, working knowledge of something gets most of us to a certain point. For the guy playing outside the ballpark on a Thursday night, that’s fine. We expect something vastly different from a concert we buy tickets to.