by John Gardner
This graphic illustrates a scenario we all face, individually, in business, in school as well as in music ensembles. Most of us, at least once, have been to the edge, looked down, looked across and pondered the possibilities. It is easy to say you want to get better, but how do you make that leap to the other side?
Realize that not everyone WANTS to get to the other side.
Many are satisfied with the way things are, represented by this marching band member attitude:
I am okay where I am. I am not last chair, I can play my part reasonably well, I can pass the playing test. I see those people on the other side…..so much pressure, so much work, and for what? Band is a good social group. It is a good place to find a date, to make friends, to feel connected. I enjoy the bus rides, the longer the better. The band parent provided food at competitions is good and I like the freedom during the down time to hang with my friends and watch some other bands.
You are, after all, standing on solid ground. It is safe where you are. You KNOW where you are and are in your comfort zone. You look over the edge and see danger. You could fall, you could fail. You could get hurt.
WANT it….with everything that is within you.
You hear the musician who plays the more difficult solo or watch the marching band put on a crowd cheering performance. You see the elation at the award ceremony and YOU WANT THAT.
In “The Return of the Jedi”, as Luke Skywalker finally stands before his ultimate enemy, the Emperor says to the young Jedi who is viewing and considering his weapon,
You want this, don’t you?
Know that small, safe, baby steps won’t make it.
If you stand on the edge, look down and take a step, you will fall. The gap is wider than that and will require a running start LEAP.
Practice and Prepare to Perform!
Olympians don’t just show up at the games. Basketball players spend hours behind the scenes practicing boring free throws and doing exhausting repetitive fundamentals up and down the floor. The ice skater doesn’t decide at the start of the performance that a quad would be a good idea.
There is no short cut to success. You must be willing to pay the price.
The ice skater going for the quad is literally a “leap of faith”. There is never a guarantee of success, but repetitive practice, falling down, getting hurt, figuring out what went wrong and working harder to get better…..are necessary ingredients to establish confidence and competence to make the jump. A phrase I have used in rehearsals,
Like the ice skater who misses the quad, missing notes (steps, sets) in performance can hurt.
A good cartoon by Tone Deaf Comics illustrates part of this idea.
Commit to go….and then GO!
No more standing at the edge. No more looking down. No more considering the consequences of failure. Back up, focus on the other side, set your mind and then RUN hard at the edge. When the Israelites were crossing the river Jordan, the waters did not part until the priests feet touched the water, the point at which they demonstrated both faith and commitment (Joshua 3:14).
Once you commit to go, you have to “go all out”. Know where you’re going, practice and prepare, commit and go.