He said, I’d give anything to learn how to play a guitar. I hear that a lot so I have a stock answer — Are you willing to give up an hour a day for the next 20 years?
I could tell the answer took him aback because he just laughed and mumbled something. Later we said our goodbyes and made our way home.
The next day the guy called to say he was willing to make that sacrifice. I told him to buy a cheap guitar and I’d give him a few lessons to get him started.
He must have misunderstood my instructions because he bought a $4,000 Martin guitar. He laughed and said after spending that much, his wife would kill him if he didn’t learn to play.
He started practicing, and he stuck with it. Some years later I saw him and he’d learned to play well enough to perform at church and parties. He was happy he’d paid the price.
Practice doesn’t receive a lot of press and is highly underrated. When you see actors at the Golden Globe Awards, they don’t mention practice. And when you see artists at the height of their success, few talk about what it took to get there. Practice is not glamorous because you tend to sweat a lot.
Talent seems to get all the press. “Oh, he/she is talented actress or musician;” but to me, the talent card is misused.
I know, without a doubt, that there are very talented people in this world but I also believe these people have turned practice into an art form. I believe these “talented” people learned that study, hard work, and practice are the stepping stones to accomplishment.
Vince Lombardy said “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” The best way to chase perfection is through practice.
I’ve heard people say, “oh, he just picked up the guitar and started playing.” I can tell you without doubt or hesitation, this is not true. Yes, someone might have picked up a guitar and plunked out a simple melody on one of the strings (I actually, I did that when I first started playing) but that’s not playing a guitar.
What people don’t see, are the countless hours this person spent going through the minutia of learning chords, learning what chords fit together, how to strum, how to hold a pick, building callouses on their fingers so they don’t bleed when they play, and all the other things that can only be accomplished through practice.
Practice can be painful. Jilda and I are working on a new set of songs and there are times I’m thankful we aren’t into guns. “I’m not sure what happened officer, he wanted me to play some hard chords, so I accidentally cut off his head and all his limbs with a chainsaw.”
Now where was I — Oh yes, practice. Most of us harbor hopes and dreams, so my advice, if you want to do something, then study, do your homework, associate with people who do what you want to do, and practice.
Yes there are a lot of talented people in the world, but you can bet those people have learned the value of practice.