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Playing in Between Times

Fatherhood has had a profound impact on my life, as it should, and playing music has come to occupy a different space than it did before my son's arrival last fall.

It used to be that I'd carve out an hour almost every night to play banjo or fiddle. I would mark the calendar each month with the local old-time jams I planned to attend, and then attend them I would.

Ever since my son was born last September, these luxuries seem beyond my reckoning. Now, I play my music in whatever time I can manage between work and family duties.

My wife has been OK with my instruments residing in our dining room, close at hand for when I have the time to play.

When the weather is nice, I drag my fiddle to the office and play in a nearby park at lunchtime.

When my son gets fussy eating his dinner, I yank my banjo off the stand and play until he's ready for the next bite.

When his eyes are fluttering as he settles down for a nap, I serenade his dreams.

And when he's finally off to bed for the night and my wife is still at work, I pick up whatever instrument has been idle longest.

I haven't been to jam since before he was born, though not for lack of trying. A few weeks ago, all three of us headed out for an old-time session, but we arrived at the location to discover that the jam no longer took place there.

We visited an antique store and drove around instead. I don't know when I'll be able to carve out such a time again. I still mark those jams on the calendar, but it feels like wishful thinking anymore.

This is life now. I know when he gets a bit older and doesn't need constant monitoring that I will be able to drag him along to jams and local festivals. For the time being, I hope that my playing for him is embedding this music in his heart so that one day he'll be able to play alongside me. That's the dream.

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