A year ago, having put my bassoon aside for 20 years my friend encouraged me to pull it out from under the sofa, dust it down and join our local Concert Orchestra.
In the first few months I frequently asked myself why I was spending my one night out a week in a state of sweaty anxiety as I fumbled and blasted my way through the pieces. Yet my fellow players were very welcoming and I gradually improved playing amongst them. The notes started to flow more easily and somehow what I played sounded more tuneful.
So, what's the key to getting started and then to sustaining our learning when it's hard? For me it is learning with others. There are hundreds of free or low cost courses available online but when there is no face to face contact at all completion rates average between 3 and 10%. One history course run by Princeton University had a 99.2% drop out rate.
We need to learn and stretch ourselves, to enrich our world for each other and our children and their children. Perhaps the best way and most successful way to do it is together, face to face, regularly and with humour. I go to orchestra because I know the others will be there, that we need each other and that we will laugh as much when the trumpets fluff it as when I do.