I was a shy child who hated talking. I grew into a scrawny kid who still hated talking. I was never the fastest, strongest, most popular, or even the smartest. People often became very uncomfortable around me. A kid who enjoys silence is rare and misunderstood. However, there was one thing that drew me out: music.
At the piano, I found my voice and connection to others. Brave souls encouraged me. Most tried through various methods to discourage me, but it was too late for that. I knew when I was 3 what I wanted to do....and I was a stubborn little thing! To do nor not, pass or fail, was on me.
Mine is the tale of everyone who has felt stuck and doesn't fit in...who has dreamed of doing and being more than simply average. (This may be why I enjoy superhero, Olympics, and underdog stories so much.)
While you may find inspiration here, my goal is more simple than that. I want to show you what I have learned on my journey and things that I still am discovering. My words may sound familiar, like stories you've heard or things your music teachers have told you. I may practice similar to the way you do. Therefore, I make no promises to you, except for this: you can do it because I did it.
So what do I know??
#1: Discipline is the key.
Lessons change very little in a student. Week-to-week, teachers patiently correct the same problems. In the same pieces. At the same spot. And success does not always follow the most talented and most privileged either.
If your next big success (performance, competition, degree) will not come from your next lesson with your hero, where does it come from?
So here is the secret to success: It's all you!
Reaching your goal almost entirely depends on your discipline. You will notice I did not say talent, teacher, luck, or a set number of practice hours. Musicians in college should know what to do...they have at least heard what they should be doing!
This is what separates the good from the great. Not your teacher. Not your background circumstances. Good gets you into college, and I sadly see many students who are content to remain that way. Great requires consistently acting on what you already know.
There is no magic solution, perfect practice schedule, best school system, good instrument, perfect teacher. Nothing to blame or praise as "the thing" that pushed you over the edge. Quite simply - you have to want it enough to put in the work.
Practice isn’t glorious; it’s hard exercise. Athletes who don’t practice don’t excel or endure in their sport. Whenever I’m tempted not to practice, which is often, I remind myself of the purpose of practice, the end result, and what it will make me into. Also, the consequences of not practicing. This motivates me. If you don’t have the purpose of your discipline clear in your mind, you’ll turn off your alarm and stay in bed. However, what do soldiers, athletes, musicians, and farmers have in common? They all take physical action. They are disciplined. They are deliberate. They work hard. Only then do they enjoy the pleasure of success.
"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." - Michelangelo
So what are you going to do today?