The most important lesson anyone can learn from practicing music.

Too many people get into music for the wrong reasons, their parents sign them up for guitar lessons or violin lessons etc. because they believe the hype that says that Music is going to make you better at math or more successful at some career that would happen to not be called “musician.”  

While I think everyone needs music in their life, I think we need music for music’s sake, genuinely for the pleasure of it, the escapism, the imagination it invokes.  But!  If you need a profound reason to practice music, to take up an instrument, consider this one thing.

The greatest life lesson I have learned, I learned from the practice of practicing guitar.  When I first started playing, I knew that, not only did I wantto be a guitar player, but that I mustbe a guitar player because I had fallen in love with the sound and the energy of metal bands like Faith No More, Metallica, and later Megadeth, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Paradise Lost, Sentenced.  When I finally picked up my first guitar I quickly came to understand that things are not so simple, that playing at the level of Marty Friedman is not an overnight ordeal, and it’s not even something that can be achieved in a year, possibly not even a lifetime.  But still I strove to be better.  At times I became so nervous and intimidated that my hands would shake uncontrollably that I could not fret the instrument.  Others I had all but reserved myself to the role of “rhythm guitar” in the hopes that someone more skilled would come along and help me out by playing lead in my band.

But in spite of the self-deprecation, I kept practicing and little by little I got better.  In fact, when I got older and had less time to practice, I still noticed that if I was able to play even once a week I would discover something new, although sometimes ever so slight, and my playing would improve. I’ve been fortunate lately to have days worth of guitar time almost everyday since taking on a full schedule of guitar students and leaving the job formerly known as “day-job.”

And now I’ve come to realize something very important about practice and that is its fundamental concept, to focus on a goal (a piece of music, a complicated solo, ensemble work) with the understanding that you may not be able to achieve it right now, but with time and effort you inevitably will.  And with that time and effort comes gradual, but noticeable change that continually propels you to higher and higher levels of virtuosity.  And this is the one thing that I wish everyone of my students could take away from lessons, that not only does practice make progress, but it lets you see an objective and understand that with consistent effort over time (maybe with some guidance from a teacher) you have the ability within you to attain your goals.