The Thursday Thesis - 23/02/2017
“I want to play just like Clapton...”
As a teacher, I often hear comments like that from new students - after all, it’s only natural that we develop a certain admiration for people who can do what we want to do.
But there’s often a toxic undercurrent – competition.
For some people, playing a musical instrument is a competitive sport.
Sometimes you’ll hear it bare-nakedly expressed, sometimes it sidles into the teaching room on the blind-side of a Tuesday afternoon. But when it’s there, competition can blind even the smartest player to the beauty of their journey of discovery, the breathtaking moments and pleasures along the path.
In the desperate sprint to prove themselves “worthy” against the illusions which surround their heroes, players overlook what I think to be a vital point: human beings and creative endeavours are not commodities, so there can be no competition between those two things.
That means there is no competition for being You.
You can’t out Clapton your role-model, because there’s only one chair marked “E.C.”, and Eric is sitting in it.
Your real competition is the player you were yesterday.
Your duty to yourself is to improve the player you are today, and become the player you want to be tomorrow.
Just like we tell our lovers that we love them “more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow”, so should our love-affair with music deepen.
Yesterday I was an outstanding teacher, today I’ll be a little better, so that tomorrow I can build on that.
Life itself could – no, must – be more than yesterday, less than tomorrow.
To be less than yesterday is to fade away...
© Neil Cowmeadow 2017
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