One general truth about the freelance musician lifestyle, is that teaching is part and parcel of the experience. When I’m not gigging with my band, recording or practicing, I can probably be found around town, teaching a student. And it’s one heck of an experience! After many years of teaching piano and vocal lessons to a large variety of people, I’ve learned quite a bunch about myself and about people in general. And what I’ve found is that almost everyone makes the same kind of mistakes. Perhaps it’s our culture, or perhaps it’s just human nature, but I’ve found that the mistakes you make are the mistakes that everyone’s making.
For today, I’d like to comment on one common theme that I’ve found in my teaching:
Almost everyone has the mistaken idea, that the faster you play, the better you are.
I’ve observed that this is true regardless of the age or almost any other factor. Even I still do it to a degree! What happens is that we play the ‘easier’ parts of a piece at an alarmingly off-kilter pace, and the ‘hard’ parts at the speed of a tortoise. Every. Single. Person. This suggests two things to me.
a) Most students are so eager to begin, and to seem competent, that they don’t set themselves up to succeed in their hardest moments.
So often, they key to getting through the tough sections is to check for the ‘hard’ parts before you begin. If you set a slower pace from the beginning, you will have time to prepare for more challenging moments.
b) Most people value speed over consistency.
Now, this may not be conscious, but it seems that almost all of my students in some way make the decision that they’d rather be fast and wrong, than slow and consistently correct. Especially in music, but in many areas of life, consistency is king/queen. I’d rather listen to a slower, but beautifully crafted piece of music, than a jarring and halted melody – wouldn’t you?
Personally, what I take from these observations, is that we often don’t allow ourselves the time to prepare for the hard moments in life. What would happen if I factor failure into my plan? How could I better prepare myself for set-backs before they happen?
And if consistency = mastery, where are the places in my life that I can be more consistent?
Let me know what you think!
With much love,