You are living your life in peace among your colleagues and friends and all is well. Then, out of nowhere, comes this song you recognize from your childhood, something that really moved you inside. And, to your surprise, it still stirs up deep feelings. As always your attention focuses on the beautiful piano part that made you cry or that drum beat that hits you in the guts. And you remember that, once, you had wanted to study the drums or the piano.
Well, now you have some time, you have a little extra money and, more importantly, you can do whatever you want since you are an adult.
So, you google a piano teacher in your area and you go to your first lesson. If it goes well, and usually it does, you do a month then another. Meanwhile you get an instrument. Ah, now we’re talking! You started to fit your passion for music into your weekly routine. You make tremendous progress. Of course, you haven’t reached your goal yet, that one song that glitters in the stars of your musical dreams, but you certainly are working towards it. It’s a matter of time.
This goes on for a while until… well, until you start questioning why you do all this.
At first you keep your doubts for yourself, hidden away. Not easy to do when you’re taking lessons since the teacher can tell that the practice is not what it used to be.
After a few weeks of that, you have to admit that as far as the drums or the piano is concerned, the thrill is gone. O tempora, o mores! Pafpif! You stop.
And you’re not even sure why.
That is a puzzling question, isn’t it? Why did you stop your progression after you invested so much time and effort and money into this hobby?
I don’t necessarily have an answer since everyone is different, but I can tell you who are the people who go the furthest: they are the ones who never question the climbing. They saw that mountain when they started, that song from Paul McCartney, that lovely piece from Chopin, that drum solo from John Bonham. From where they were, the summit seemed so distant, almost lost in the clouds. It didn’t matter. They hired a guide (that’s the teacher) and they started walking. And they concentrated on the walk, just the walk. Just. The. Walk. They never question the motion. They look forward, towards their goal, the summit up there and they keep moving in that direction. If a turn (could be the technique of the paradiddle) or a forest (could be harmony) hides the goal for a while, they don’t worry about it. They keep climbing. Their enthusiasm wavers, of course, due to the roller coaster of our busy lives, but they keep climbing because they know they will come out of their apathy eventually, as long as they keep moving.
One day, one shiny bright day, they will reach their goal, that’s for sure, yet they will keep climbing. What they thought was the top was just another landmark. There will be another goal, and another shiny bright day.
I have seen many students who did just that. They are not superhumans. They don’t have exceptional lives. They don’t drive a car made with magic wands. They’re just people who take a decision and stick to it. Once they start towards the top of that mountain, they don’t question their motivation, they don’t stop: they keep climbing.
Sol! I just got around to reading this and you’re damn right. I haven’t told you but I ran a marathon once and some days it fucking sucked to put my running shoes on – and I’ve been doing better at approaching drums the same way – there are rough days when I just feel like getting under a pile of blankets and putting something mindless on Netflix (I still do that) but I’m trying more to at least commit to 15min of practice on the really bad days – it almost always ends up being more.
Thanks for the advice, you’re a gem!
See you next Saturday!