Muscle memory.

As instrumentalists, we want it so bad, especially when we are beginners, we strive, we long for Speed! The reason why we started this whole enterprise is because we saw that person going a million miles an hour on them drums/keys. The person was flowing, with an easy smile and easier gesture. What they were doing seemed so approachable, so attainable. All you need is that little flick of the wrist or fingers, like nothing.

Yes, it always looks great on TV. That’s actually a job well done on the performer when it seems like a 5 years old could do it, when you cannot see the work. But, what you also don’t see are the hours, the weeks, the months, the years behind that very lick they’re displaying. Nobody’s interested in that, honestly. The patient pain. The stubborn crawling. Who wants that? No one. But, for better or worse, you’ve decided to conquer it, to climb that mountain and plant your flag on top of it.

Now, listen, anything that involves speed involves muscle memory. And anything that involves muscle memory involves time. No two ways about it. Often a lot of time. Plus humiliation. Why? Because you have to start the motion, and it feels foreign, it feels uncomfortable and even wrong sometimes. You do that thing and you realize that you don’t have the first clue about it. You know what it’s supposed to sound like, to look like, but what it’s supposed to feel like? No idea. And it feels really bad. The notes are mangled, your sound is awful, the visual is disastrous. Nothing fits, nothing flows, nothing goes as you saw it on the video. Now, you’re getting mad! You ought to be doing this better, come on, this is easy! You don’t understand where the problem is. Humiliating!…

The fact is, there is no problem. You just need time to mold your body into the motion you want it to do. You need to repeat that motion a million times before you can do it at a million miles per hour. That simple, that obvious, that tedious, yes, I know, I’m a donkey in music, I’m right behind you. The game is patience. Lots of it. And then, once you’re patient, you need to be even more patient. And it never stops.

Getting a good teacher helps. He can make sure you keep the direction you need, he can provide encouragements and tricks, he can help vary the angles and explore different variations of the same exercise. He can be an invaluable guide on the rocky road to your goal. As a matter of fact, I know an excellent one. And, who knows, he might even transform the tediousness into something fun.