Yesterday I learned that in the December 2013 Banjo Hangout Virtual Competition – in which competitors were to play their versions of Auld Lang Syne – I placed 11th our of 24 contestants.
This is what I played:
This contest ranking might not sound like much, and indeed this might not be much, but it does represent the first time in about three competitions that I have placed above the lowest 50th percentile.
It’s true that when you rank in the ratings in that lowest 50th percentile, the web platform managers don’t tell you where in that universe you placed so I could have been in the top tier of the lower half or in the ranks of the lowest of the low. Knowing that might make placing 11th out of 24 even more dramatically important, to a banjo player – or it might dull the achievement by making it clear that I really only nudged up one place from that thin band representing the border between the lower and the upper half.
But I’ve decided that it represents a breakthrough.
When I was a little kid, on a local swimming team -- a team that was blessed with a real concentration of talent -- those of us who were on the second stream, the bench warmers so to speak, used to say that if and when we ever managed to win a race we should quit the team and retire undefeated.
Following that logic, I should put this 11th place on my banjo curriculum vitae, and call it quits.
However, in a fit of optimism I’ve begun preparing for the February Banjo Hangout competition, which features love songs. As the BHO “challenge” page notes, “In honor of Valentine's Day our challenge will feature only love songs. Tunes may be played in any style, with or without vocals. The name of the song must be mentioned in the video or included in the title.”
That’s a wide open challenge. In a field that might include as many as 25, perhaps I’ll manage to rank 10th this time, though I’d probably celebrate another 11th ranking as an equally legitimate validation of my continued commitment to playing banjo.