Musician Part 3: Persisting

So, you have decided to be a musician and, for ultimate guidance, you’re reading this blog. So far, you’ve learnt that you need to practice and that you need to listen. “Good!” you’re thinking, “That’ll do it, I’m gonna go make myself a million dollars!”.

Hold the press! Not so fast, my friend!

Here we are, at this critical juncture and we are about to talk about persistence, the greatest price, the Holy Grail of all activities, the only sure fire way to achieve anything, the reason why I cried so many nights fearing I wouldn’t be a musician. Persistence, oh Sweet Mama!

You like persistence, huh? Yes, I’m sure you do, even if it has never been coming to you shores. It is that light at the end of your tunnel, that thing you have dreamed of, that big hopeful silver lining: “One day! One day, I will do my 10,000 hours and become a great envelope sealer!” Yes! We have all heard the lecture on persistence. All of us! Why? Because this is the most regular flaw of humans: we don’t follow through.

Well, I’m not going to serve up, yet another dish of persistence, its qualities, its miracles. No, not today. Today I’ll talk about the opposite: persistence as something not always beneficial.

Because persistence can be a problem! How come? We are raised to believe that Persistence (I’ll give it a capital) is the all encompassing provider of all arts and inventions!

Not quite.

Now, follow me carefully, this one might take a little mental gymnastic. What are the pitfalls of Persistence , you ask? I’ll talk from experience, and formulate it like this: What about those cold sweat you get when you’re not sure you are doing enough, even after you’ve just spent 15 hours on your drums? What about those doubts that submerge you when you see someone on stage playing for a stadium full, someone who is so fluid and natural in her performance, she gives the impression she hasn’t practiced a minute in her whole life? What about being so prepared and anxious to do good that you overplay, filling up every nook and cranny of the musical landscape with your chops? What about those hours you pile up auditioning and auditioning and that phone is still not proposing any gigs?

Persistence is not the answer to everything. In moderation, it can be a great engine. Just like necessity, or anger, or frustration, or hunger, etc. But too much persistence can be lethal. Pedaling hard with your nose in the handlebar is not a good idea. You have to always be aware of your environment, what it will require for you to make a living. Persistence, from a self employed musician, will still ask to be nimble and versatile, and thinking.

So, there you are. You thought I was going to give you a lecture about the virtues of persistence, but I already did on the first part of this blog (If you haven’t read it yet, go to it).

But I also wanted to keep people in the real. We are not supposed to be little robots. Persistence is a fantastic tool, and a necessary one, but it’s not the whole thing. Sometimes you need to keep a little distance from your best friend.