I am a musician. I’ve always been a musician. I guess I will always be a musician. Even if my life and work is now very different to what it was, what is now nearly 40 years ago, I still think as a musician. At least I think I do!
I remember when I was still at school, about when I was 14, studying the piano with my teacher Richard Deering – I think now how frustrating it must have been for him – but it was with him I learnt how to learn. For me, at that time, I recognised it as being a bit of a watershed moment. Well, perhaps it wasn’t merely learning how to learn, but more like being able to show and demonstrate that you’ve studied. A fine distinction I know, but a distinction none the less. The difference of doing something and really doing it!
Before this moment, I studied, put in the time, I had the intention, but I hadn’t the ability of going about it the right way; and not getting the results! In reality, it’s no great deal, and pretty obvious in fact. But when it’s you who’s doing it, nothing is obvious. Learning and making obvious progress can be impenetrable.
I remember him telling me, over and over, that I mustn’t continue when I make a mistake, but go back and do it again. Simple. Yes. Well no, not really. Because when you’re doing something to the limit of your ability, it’s not easy to think analytically.
But, one week, I just forced myself. Whilst I was practising, every time I made a mistake I stopped and went back to the beginning of the line; slowly working my way through the piece. It’s a bit like watching grass grow; nothing seems to happen nor change. But I remember at the next lesson, when I played my piece – for me it was the same as before – he said, ‘Good!’ That was not usual! Then he asked me how I’d studied it, and I told him, and he said again, ‘Good!’ He then gave me some other tips of how I might go about studying etc. But I was really amazed. I never thought it was possible that I could do it right.
When you’re studying music, it’s important to work at small bits at a time. It’s like climbing a mountain – it’s too much to do all at once, and you can’t take it all in – when you look up to the top it becomes totally overwhelming: Simply look down at your feet and concentrate on taking one step at a time; slowly but surely you’ll get there.
And life my friends, is the same. If you don’t focus on very small parts of it at a time, it can easily get just too much!
Repetition is the key to success in everything. The LOA; whatever you think and do, you get more of. Precisely like in music. But what you do do must be right, and so you need to take it in manageable sections to get it under control!