Author: Campbell, Bruce

Grin and Fake It.

You'd think with the week off I had I'd be brimming with pithy scrawlings. Alas, all I'm brimming with right now is a high fever.

Some notable wit said that 90% of life is just showing up. That may be true, but a good 75% is also faking it. It’s how successful people get from point A to point B. It’s deep at the root of confidence, and I think it stokes the fires of creativity.

When I was a kid, I was always impressed how grownups seem to know just what to do, whether it was at their grownup jobs, or taking care of the home and kids. I longed for the day when I, too would have that cool calm. “What serenity there must be, in always knowing what you’re doing!”, I thought.

I never seemed to know just what I’m doing. I mean, I knew what I knew, but life never seemed to demand of me the things I already knew – it always wanted what I didn’t quite know. When I got my first real job (with a paycheck), I got it as a result of faking it, a little.

“Can you drive a stick?”, they asked.

“Sure!”, I replied, even though my only experience with driving a stick was doing somelaps around a parking lot in my uncle’s big pickup with a three-on-the-tree.

Fortunately, I was able to get the delivery van out of the driveway, and did my learning (stalling, gear grinding, etc.) out on the road.
As I became an adult, I realized that the conditions that drove me crazy as a kid still exist for adults. Yes, you have a wider range of experience and knowledge to draw upon, but you’re still constantly faced with situations that demand

you know things you really don’t. So, you fake it. You hope for the best,make some guesses and plow ahead. And oddly enough, MOST of the time it works out! And when it doesn’t, you make note of what you’ve learned, and have something (wisdom?) to use if the same situation presents itself again.

The same thing applies in music. We struggle to learn our instruments and learn the songs and learn the notes, but once you’re confronted with live playing, there’s always a twist or turn you didn’t expect.

You are faced with a choice: Either deal with it and solider through (fake it), or shut down and cease playing until a song comes a long that you do know, note for note. Which would you rather do?
It’s a similar situation when you find yourself in a jam with players whose abilities far exceed yours.

You’re way outside your comfort zone. Do you hang in there, and give it a try? Sometimes you really
can’t keep up, but more often than not, you’re able to conjure a few disconnected seconds of musical brilliance, and over time, those disconnected instances where you played ahead of your assumed abilities actually raises your comfort zone to a new level!

So, if you didn’t know already, I’m here to tell you: NONE of us really knows what we’re doing. The
difference between being a happy success and a miserable failure is really just the ability and confidence to grin and fake it!

Posted:  6/25/2014

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email