Friday, January 17, 2020

Why musicians should watch the big gam (Seriously!)

Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash
Here we are, about to watch another televised wrestling match over who puts a football on one end of the field or the other, and all I can think of is how similar the big game is to the big gig. For elite athletes and musicians alike, here are five lessons I can't ignore.

Preparation isn't everything.
Seriously, does anyone think anyone on either team isn't fully prepared? Or that they don't take the game or their opponent seriously enough? At this level, everyone is an elite athlete, anyone is good enough to make a play and everyone wants to win. Sometimes you just get lucky. That said...

Preparation is everything. 
If you aren't ready to play on the big stage, you will get exposed - nay, obliterated - by somebody else. Your reputation, your legacy and your future are shaped by every opportunity that you get, so you need to be ready to do your best at any time. When the moment is upon you, it's too late to practice. So practice today, tomorrow and every day after that with the intent to be ready today, tomorrow and every day after that for whatever may come.


At the moment when it counts, it comes down to taking chances.
Miles Davis famously said, "Do not fear mistakes - there are none." Sports coaches might disagree with me, but if you're going to impact the game, you're taking chances. Every time the quarterback throws the ball, he's taking chances. If you play safe, you play to lose.

In no way am I advocating that you perform recklessly or without care for your fellow musicians, the setting and the music. But I'm saying that sometimes - at the right moments - you reach just a little bit beyond yourself to grow and become a little bit more than what you were.

The players that come out of a title game are on a higher level for the rest of their careers, win or lose. Musicians have the opportunity to take those steps forward at every performance. 

You don't have to be perfect to win.
Even when you win by a lot, and it looks easy, you haven't played a perfect game. I believe that no musician has ever played a perfect performance. Some of the most passionate and relatable musicians in the world are also famously imperfect. That vocalist that absolutely owns the audience, but occasionally cracks a note. Or the drummer who lights the band on fire but also has a problem with rushing (don't we all, tbh?). Be aware of your weaknesses, be mindful about improvement, but don't qualify a good or bad gig just because it wasn't perfect. There's a lot more to art than right notes and staying at 96 bpm. 

Even when you lose, there's another game coming up.
Especially in the music world, no gig is the last one - or at least it shouldn't be. There will always be another chance to make music, and you can take the results from every performance you have as data to help you learn. Where are your weaknesses, and what are your strengths? If we are thoughtful and observant, each experience - good or bad - gives us fuel to improve and get closer to where we want to be as musicians and as human beings.

Happy playing!

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Why musicians should watch the big gam (Seriously!)

Photo by  Ameer Basheer  on  Unsplash Here we are, about to watch another televised wrestling match over who puts a football on one en...