Doing It ‘Till You Get It Right OR Are We There Yet?

When is perfection relevant? Is there really such thing as perfection?

Like a little kid in the back seat, constantly pestering, “are we there yet?”, many of my students ask me how long it will be before they become “good”. I always answer them the same way; I have been playing many years and I’m still trying!

I warn them that they better hope they never get to the point where they think they are “good”. Then where would they go; what would be their motivation to continue?

I really equate this to life as well. I have learned not to take anything for granted but to appreciate what’s going on with, around and about me. For me, it’s about evolution relative to effort and reason for approaching absolutely anything in the first place.

The journey should be as important, interesting and eventful as the destination once you arrive; should you arrive!

The old adage practice makes perfect doesn’t really lend credence to the concept of practice. Who actually concurs on the perfect part; the student; the teacher; the audience- WHO?

I really believe that “perfection“, like “beauty“, is in the eyes of the beholder.

  • I love MY life because of what the process yields to me personally.
  • I love MY craft because because of what the process yields to me personally.
  • I love MY work because of what the process yields to me personally.

I remember years ago when I first started out, still in college, I was playing a bar and I had just played a tune on my vibraphone. The performance was, shall we say, far from masterful; the audience, mostly old & inebriated. When I finished, there was a moment of silence and then that vacuum BURST into an extremely energetic applause. I couldn’t help comparing this to one of my mentors, somewhere in the world, at that exact moment, achieving the same result. From the audiences’ perspective, was there any difference? Think about it.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.”– Les Brown


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2 thoughts on “Doing It ‘Till You Get It Right OR Are We There Yet?

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only music teacher out there faced with this problem. I especially get asked “How long will it take before I get good” by my adult students, and I never know how to answer them, because I don’t know what their version of good is and how it compares to my own. It also depends on how much a student practices. When I was a very very beginner player, just being able to get to the “Easy Piano” level in pop books was good. Now, 20 years later, I want to play like Oscar Peterson or Chucho Valdez, and then I’ll think I’m good.

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