So, who's the "wise man?" Well, most of you who know me have been subjected, at one time or another, to an analogy or two courtesy of my late father. The philosophies that he shared with me have been invaluable for my musical career as a player and a teacher, and I would like to share one in particular with you that sums up the way I've grown to view life's challenges in general. I call this story "Pop's Jigsaw Puzzle Analogy."

When I first started my music career, I was as anxious and impetuous as any other beginner, with a desire to get where I was going as quickly as possible. Even though I thought that I was being patient, I felt myself thoroughly confused with this new musical language that I was being exposed to. Sound familiar? I would study several hours each day, and then keep my dad up half the night with question after question, trying to make some rhyme or reason out of the "big picture." Here's where his puzzle story comes in, and it was just what the doctor ordered at the time!

Pop told me that, to a newcomer, the world of music was like a huge jigsaw puzzle, with hundreds of pieces and seemingly no clue as to what might fit where. But what he promised me was that, if I remained very patient, studied hard, and didn't keep my expectations too high, that gradually the "time and experience" factor would begin to take over. Slowly, as he said, I would find the corners of the puzzle, and then construct the frame. It wouldn't be long before it would start becoming obvious where each new piece would fit, and the puzzle would be transformed into the big picture that I was hoping to see. Over the years, I've not only realized the wisdom of this analogy, but have also seen just what a microcosm of life itself the story represents.

It may seem too simplistic to judge our abilities at whatever we attempt on the basis of acquired time and experience, yet isn't that what it really amounts to? In the instruction field, I am constantly being asked to evaluate a player's ability in a given area. Believe me when I say that, nine times out of ten, if the student is deficient or proficient in any area, there's a direct link to the time and experience factor. Want some examples?

Do you experience performance anxiety? Well, how often do you perform? Problems learning music by ear, you say? How often do you try? Inadequate reading skills? Do you read on a regular basis? Insufficient song vocabulary? Have you learned a new song this week? I could go on and on, but I think that you get the idea. And what about those of us who are proficient?

I'll bet that you can't name one successful artist, athlete, businessman, etc, who hasn't accumulated an enormous amount of time and experience in their chosen profession. In the music world alone, find me one notable guitarist that hasn't logged thousands of hours studying and performing in countless different situations. Forget "natural ability." It's simply the time and experience factor personified to the max.

What my father tried to get across to me, and what I'm trying to get across to you, sounds so simple. Well, that's because it is. Nevertheless, when the going gets tough, I just can't help but reflect back on "Pop's Jigsaw Puzzle Analogy," and what it's meant to me!

"Coach's Corner" is an ongoing addition to Vision Music. The purpose of these brief articles is to share philosophy, offer practical insights, and to enhance your musical studies.

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