Blackbelt in Swing
So you can probably imagine how hyperactive my brain gets on a ten-hour flight.
I watched a film on the plane to California called Whiplash. If I said it was like Rocky for the drums then you’d know what I meant, but it wouldn’t do the film justice. You’ve probably heard about it as it was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
It’s an awesome film about a young music student and an absolute dictator of a band leader whose mission is to get the absolute best out of his pupils. His methods, however, are somewhat intense. Tough love would be an understatement. Blood, sweat and tears all fly in the name of musical mastery.
Mastery. I fricking love mastery. Whether it’s a carpenter, an athlete, a chef or a musician. Anyone that’s put in the thousands of hours to get their Black Belt gets my respect. Big time.
So the thing that stuck out for me when watching the film was that no matter how dedicated the pupil was beforehand, no matter how much of a jazz geek they were before they got to college, two things became apparent…
Firstly- being a big fish in a little pond will only slow you down, but we’ll come back to that another day.
Secondly, despite admirable levels of work and practice, a great coach or mentor will always get more out of you. More than you ever thought possible.
Practicing for hours a day isn’t enough. Practice doesn’t always make perfect. Perfect practice, that’s what’s needed. Focused, progressive, challenged practice.
Why does having a good coach get so much more out of you?
You try harder because you want their respect?
(I know I’ve talked about this sort of thing before, so I’ll refer you to my other email about coaching styles here as well.)
There’s also the fact that an experienced eye (or ear) can see potential that you didn’t know existed, and will draw it out using different methods – some more orthodox than others.
Or maybe there always was that little bit more in there that you were short-changing yourself over by telling yourself you were giving it everything.
Trust me, most people don’t know what it feels like to give absolutely 100%. It’s far too painful.
I’m not going to go into details about the story, just watch the film- it’s brilliant.
But don’t worry- I don’t use all the same methods as the coach in the film. I’ve got some that are much worse! 😉
On that bombshell, I’m out.