Do what you love. Positive thinking. Winning friends and influencing people…
If you’re like me, I know you’ve heard this all a hundred times before elsewhere, starting with Dale Carnegie, then Norman Vincent Peale, then perhaps Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, Hal Urban and Harvey Mackey. The message of how to start thinking in a better way in order to affect our own choices and directions in life. Therein lies this message’s own peril; its overabundance. We see it too much and start to take it for granted; regarding it as merely a commodity.
Yet it deserves much more. These authors’ message does stand the test of time as being true, virtuous and good for human nature and personal (and hence societal as well) success. What helps from time to time is to see it in a different perspective; to give the information a little tweak; a slightly different perspective on things.
So, let’s go ahead and drag it into the world of banjos, shall we?
Actually, I should say let’s drag it into the world of Bluegrass, no, music in general, as what I say here isn’t really specific to the banjo alone, or even to Bluegrass alone. Apply it as you see fit within your musical thinking.
Let’s begin by examining a few of the more common phrases and I’ll give you my twist on them.
Doing what you love.
This is the core application of my belief that enthusiasm conquers a host of detractions. We all tend to gravitate towards what we like, so why not apply this as well to our musical inclinations? Do you love old-time music? Then forget about keeping up with the latest trends in progressive bluegrass. Do you love jazz? Then the Carter Family can wait. We can’t be all things musically to all people. I often wish I could myself; I love bluegrass, jazz, old-time, Celtic… you name it! But I have to concentrate on a manageable amount of material in order to succeed at any of it. Find what you love the most and start with it. Give it your all, musically, and you’ll soon see ordered progress.
The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The words of Jesus as He spoke the sermon on the mount. This is so applicable to every aspect of our lives. This is the core value behind one of Harvey Mackey’s central points – that of trust. Harvey Mackey is big on building trust and rightly so. Musically, we build trust in other people not only in the usual fashion that is applicable to every endeavor, but also with realizing that music is not a solitary effort in the end. We all start our musical training alone, and then advance towards playing with others, perfecting our timing and jamming etiquette. Remember your music is a give and take situation. Enjoy the interaction in and of itself; that’s what it’s all about more than anything else.
I love the title of that book by Patsy Clairmont: “Sportin’ a ‘tude”. Your ‘tude goes way beyond getting rid of a bad one, though – it is a veritable mirror into your very private thinking for the whole world to see. Do you give up easily? Does something irritate you? Are you a resilient person when the going gets tough? All these qualities about you are easily seen by other and they come across in your attitude. How you relate to others musically is not very different, either. Does he get irritated when someone deviates from a certain style? Does she show much desire to learn new material? Think about what you are conveying to you fellow musicians and whether this is indeed what you are wanting to communicate.
I’m big on goals. They are an easily tangible concept in terms of music. We set daily, weekly or monthly, yearly and lifetime goals and review them periodically, tweaking them and evaluating our progress against them. A very methodical process. So in terms of our music, this one is essentially just like anything else in life. Set your goals and go for them!
Habits and Success
Part of this goes back once again to doing what you love to do. If you love it, it is so much easier to make it your habit. Be careful not to sabotage the development of good habits with things like running out of time. Another part of this is embodied in the more literal advice “Perfect practice makes perfect”. And we all know how central practice is to our music – enough said there.
I could go on all day with new concepts and how to apply them to our music! But enough for now. Have a great day!